Thursday, February 23, 2012

Use Air Sketch with Dropbox for Wireless iPad Presentations

Many times I find myself in a situation where I want to do a presentation with the ability to stay mobile and move around the room, but I don’t have access to install software on the computer. Many remote apps have a small footprint, but even if you do have access to install something on the computer it can very easily stutter and interrupt the flow of your presentation if the network isn’t running perfectly. I found a better solution - one that I feel safe enough to depend on when I am being evaluated and need everything to work smoothly. The nice thing about Air Sketch is that all the action happens on your iPad and it sends updates wirelessly to the browser(s) for the computer to send to the projector. This gives you much smoother feedback as you are drawing directly on the iPad and seeing immediate feedback and responsiveness. At first glance Air Sketch looks like a typical standalone whiteboard sketch app but it can do so much more.

Air Sketch Free serves as a basic free wireless whiteboard. You can move around the room and draw on the projected screen using this free app without installing anything on your computer. Simply press the wireless button on the toolbar and point your browser to the address and port listed inside Air Sketch or use Safari’s Bonjour bookmarks. The basic version uses the same drawing and wireless engine as the Pro version so you can test it to see if it meets your needs before you upgrade. 

If you can splurge a little... Air Sketch Pro adds some features that are definitely worth it. These extra features include the ability to import pictures from your photos, import PDFs from webpages or Dropbox/, export screenshots of your presentation to your photos, email as PDF, or email as an image file. By combining this program with the helpfulness of Dropbox (or I came up with a few interesting scenarios:

Basic Whiteboard:
Sketch on Air Sketch and point your projector-connected computer to the web address in Air Sketch. Use your wireless connection or create an ad-hoc network from your computer to make it work without any Internet connection.

Document Camera:
Take a picture of your document using the camera on your phone/ipad2 or even use a scanning app to make a PDF or image of it.
Save the picture or PDF to Dropbox.
Open the picture or PDF in Air Sketch.
Annotate wirelessly.
Allow students to use the iPad to annotate wirelessly as well so they can interact with the board without standing in front of the projector.

Wireless Presentation:
Convert your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation to PDF.
Save PDF version of PowerPoint/Keynote to Dropbox/
Open PDF in Air Sketch.
Annotate over your presentation.
Change slides and Air Sketch resets annotations and remembers what annotations go with which page. When you go back to a page, the annotations for that page reappear.
Export annotaions as a PDF to email to your class.

Use a free online screencasting program such as Screenr to record your wireless presentation and host it online. Screenr gives you embed codes you can use on your classroom website.

Air Sketch is a powerful but simple tool that is easy to use and dependable. Check out their website at:

Please see the embedded video to see Air Sketch in action.

About the Guest Blogger
Michael Carter is a computer lab teacher and Technology Coach at South-Doyle Middle School in Knoxville Tennessee. His nerdiest hobby includes developing educational database software which is now in use by several schools in 3 different counties in Tennessee. Michael may be found on Twitter, Google+, and on the web.