Using iPad’s in the classroom opens many new and exciting opportunities. They are portable, easy to use and there are a wealth of apps. One of the challenges that we have encountered though, was finding an app that would allow faculty to not only present Powerpoint files, but annotate them during class. To our excitement, Explain Everything appears to fit that need.
While you are unable to create Powerpoint files in Explain Everything, it is easy for users to import them into the app. User can email Powerpoint files to themselves, or upload them into Dropbox and directly open them into the app. Once imported, there are a number of options. One of the more handy tools is a slide sorting window, which is similar to the one found in Powerpoint. Slides can be re-sorted and the user can easily skip to different slides during their presentation. Explain Everything, even includes a laser pointer, which is pretty handy since the iPad doesn’t have a mouse to point things out.
Annotation is quick and for the most part simple. There is a pen tools that can be adjusted by color, width and transparency so it double as a highlighter. Shapes and arrows can be added to the presentation along with pictures from your photo album. If you prefer to type rather than write, you can quickly add text to any slide, or just start with a blank slide and add text on the fly.
You also have the option to record video of your entire presentation, including your voice. During recorded presentations the laser pointer can be seen moving around while the speaker talks. Even handwriting appears on the screen. Recording your presentation provides a way to share your presentations with others and Explain Everything makes it easy to do that. Video files can be uploaded to youtube, dropbox, or even saved on your iPad. Our personal favorite, is that the videos can be saved in a format that makes it easy for us to post them onto bSpace websites. The export fun doesn’t end there, images can be exported and entire presentations can be saved as PDF documents and emailed out to students.
It’s not all roses and rainbows though. The user interface is a little confusing. Touch and holding on tools brings up an additional menu, but it’s a little sluggish and not as intuitive as we would like. Occasionally, the formatting will be a little off when Powerpoint file are imported and all animations are lost. Our biggest wish is for the pen tool to write more smoothly though. Once an iPad user gets used to Pen Ultimate, it can be hard to use writing tools from other apps. Lastly, once you record your presentation, it does take a while for the app to export videos and since it doesn’t work in the background, your iPad is really unusable during that period of time.
We recommend Explain Everything, although we suggest you stop by our office for a quick demo before you purchase.
Update: Explain Everything recently added the ability to add web clips – so you add a webpage to your presentation and write on top of it.
Good: Display and annotate PPT and PDF files. Record audio and video of presentation. Files can be opened via DropBox, Email, Evernote. Presentation videos can be exported in bSpace friendly format, uploaded to youtube or saved as PDF. Annotation tools include, arrows, lines and shapes, written and typed text and a laser pointer. One of the few apps that converts PPT files and provides an easy way to annotate, save and share your presentations
Bad: User Interface can be a little confusing. Video files are not viewable in the app. Writing is decent, but not as good as programs like Pen Ultimate. Videos take a while to export and cannot be done in the background.