Wednesday 5 January 2011

Enhancing the iPad's Safari

Those of us lucky enough to have an iPad are able to wax lyrical about its functionality and the endless possibilities it affords to enhance learning. Sometimes we would do well to remember and share some basic adjustments that need to be made to improve some of the built in tools.

Safari Bookmarks Tool Bar
The bookmarks bar in Safari is not turned on when the iPad is first unpacked.
Turn it on in Settings, then add your favorite time saving tools in the form of bookmarklets. These are shortcuts to apps or to tools that perform a function you use regularly, such as bookmarking, sharing, posting, tagging, even shortening links.
Basically, one bookmarks a page and then edits the new bookmark by pasting in the javascript provided by the application or tool. Quite a fiddly process, but well worth the effort for ongoing convenience and efficiency.

The first one I found was in the app GoodReader.

Once this shortcut is installed on the Bookmarks bar, tapping on it saves the current page, document, picture, whatever is open in your Safari at the time, directly into GoodReader. This has proved to be an invaluable tool for staff and students at my school. We had posted many curriculum documents on our intranet that students needed for offline reading and annotation. With this quick method of downloading documents to individual iPads, GoodReader has become a mainstay in our suite of tools.
Students have their documents organised into subject folders along with some textbooks for which we have been able to obtain copyright permission.
We have:
  • satisfied students
  • reduced paper consumption
  • enhanced library role in providing subject gateways for downloads
  • the ability for staff to provide last minute documents to classes without photocopying

Diigo The Web Highlighter for iPad Safari is another of these bookmarklets. It provides the options to highlight, bookmark, add a sticky note or go to your Diigo library. The other tool provided by Diigo that resides on my Bookmarks Bar is the Find on Page utility, the equivalent of CTRL-F.

I have several more shortcuts added thanks to the comprehensive instructions and Javascript provided by Chris Bray here at Bookmarklets for the iPad  He has blogged about the process here.

The keyboard - When typing on the iPad's built in keyboard, it often creates unwanted capitals in an email address or any other word. It can be turned off by tapping the SHIFT key 3 times. If you have any other useful tips or tricks you have identified that are not listed in the latest manual, I would be delighted to have you share them.

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