iPad app Review: Neon Image Search and Fancy Pages

Images and Fancy Pages apps

As I start playing with the newer technology in the classroom I’ll review it so other teachers can see how I’m using it and how it went. I’m a bit of a believer in diving in and seeing what happens! This is an unsponsored post, in other words I found the apps and bought them myself. But I’m glad to start with such a positive review, both apps worked extremely well and I’ll definitely be using them again.

The Task:

I wanted my students to create electronic posters for an assignment, along the lines of Glogster or Nota. I know Glogster is extremely popular, I actually prefer Nota because it has a built-in Flickr search that finds open copyright pictures for you. This avoids any hassles with having to search for images and save them or upload them and means the entire project can be done in one platform. Unfortunately, both rely on Flash so won’t work on the iPad.

I have access to laptops, but I specifically wanted to work with iPads with this particular class. They have very low tolerance for waiting and treat the laptops terribly, they will disappear onto music or games sites as soon as you aren’t looking directly at them, and it’s difficult to use the laptops without mice. I think the touch interface will be much more successful, and I was after an extremely simple app that I don’t have to spend half my time helping them do the mechanics.

Neon Image Search

This app is not only free it did exactly what I wanted, which is search for images on the internet. Type in what you want and within seconds there is a page full of decent sized thumbnails. Click on one you are interested in and it gives you the enlarged version and tells you the website it comes from. Click on the little + button and you have an option of going to the web page, emailing the picture or saving it onto the iPad, then back to searching again.

The only thing I would ask for would be a copyright restriction or notification. You can get the webpage to reference them and for in-class usage it’s not really an issue, but it’s always a good thing to be teaching kids about. Another potential issue is that there are no age restrictions so it’s possible you’ll get adult content. However I’m a believer in teaching kids how to be safe rather than putting up fences, so that’s not something that worries me personally.

From my use so far, this is pretty close to perfect for any class regularly making electronic presentations or documents. I would call this a must-have app for schools setting up iPads.

Fancy Pages

This is a very simple document maker from TopLineSoft Systems which cost about $4, so not going to break the budget. You can create as many pages as you want in a document, add backgrounds, drawings, text or images from your saved photos, which is where Image Search comes in. The students used it first and saved what they wanted, then could put them into Fancy Pages without any messing around finding where they are saved or copying and pasting.

Everything can be dragged around and resized easily and there are a huge range of fonts available. All the controls are fairly intuitive, all I really had to do was show students how to get started and they were off, a nice change from having to help them change the font size again on the computer. It took a little bit of searching to find the rotate command, which is pretty good overall. We got several posters finished in one class, something that would have been very difficult using the computers.

When finished we saved them and emailed them to the students’ accounts, now we have the option of showing them on the interactive whiteboard for a presentation or pasting them onto an A3 document and printing out a lovely coloured poster. I’m sure there are ways of doing both of those through apps, but we’ve only had the iPads a couple of weeks.

The only suggestion I would make so far is that there are no examples for font size, you have to do it by trial and error. Which isn’t really a big deal when you get an idea of the sizes but would speed things up when you are first using it.

Once again I would highly recommend this app as a simple way of starting to make documents on iPads. There isn’t too much for students to have to learn and they can start producing ‘fancy pages’ straight away.

And as a bonus, I used the same two apps with my 5 year old daughter at home, and she’s happily creating a poster about the book her class has just read.

poster

One of the posters they created in class.

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