Teacheasyapp.com – A review

So I saw a comment on my TeacherMade review. It felt like a bit of advertising for Teacheasyapp which is fine. Apps and services have to get their name out there so I don’t mind too much. After taking a quick peak at it, I figured to do a full on review of it. It basically is a way for you to annotate and leave comments on PDF files that students share with you. It has some interesting features and I will be looking at the online app that you use with your computer and the Android app (it has an iOS app as well).

Pricing and signing up

Well – it is free. There is nothing about any pricing anywhere on the site. If you are using the desktop version with your computer, you don’t even have to sign up, you can just start using it right away. Also there is no option (at least on the front page of the website to sign up. Just jump right in.

As for the Android phone, well that it is a little different. When you launch the app for the first time, it will ask you to pick your language. There is English and a number of other languages I do not recognize. I imagine those are very Indian specific. Then it wants your phone number to send you a one time use code.

Using the Desktop Version

This is the version you use with your computer. From the website you click the Use Teach Easy Web (on Desktop/Laptop). It immediately then asks you to upload a PDF. PDF’s are currently the only supported file at the time and that’s fine for now. It would be nice to see integrations with Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive but this is a pretty new product so maybe that is on their roadmap for the future.

At any rate, any word processing program (online or local on a computer/device) can export a doc as a PDF so this isn’t a huge deal, it just would be nice to have that option. Once you upload a PDF (only one file at a time at the moment) you can now go ahead and start marking it up. The options are pretty straightforward.

On the left hand side are your tools. You have…

  • Select – Let’s you select comments and markup to move/delete
  • Pen – Let’s you draw on the PDF
  • Comment – Let’s you type a comment
  • Marks – This is weird. Here you can add numbers and it puts a circle around but it also seems to somehow figure into an academic score as well
  • Eraser – It does what it says
  • Color – You can change the color of comments/drawings/marks but not after the face. If you want a green comment you need to change the color first before adding the comment.

Here are what those markups looks like.

I wish that you could change the line sizes and the size of the comments as well, but that doesn’t look like an option at this point. Overall though the tools work well. My computer is a touch screen and just using my finger to annotate was easy and reliable.

In the top right hand corner you have three options

You can undo marks and comments with the Undo button but there is no Redo option. You can click on a New File to upload a new PDF. Then you can Save. When you do this you have to sign in with a Google account. Now here is what I am talking about with those marks. I put in -5 for the five problems the student got wrong.

I’m not too sure how that works. I could just overwrite that I guess and there is an option where I can skip it altogether if I want to. When I click Save it wants me to sign into my Google account or to sign up with an email. I kind of wish this was done at the start. This would make it a little more convenient.

Once it saves, it gives me the option to download it or continue marking it up.

One thing it does not do is to save it to my Google Drive. If it did I could not find it. So I guess I download it and then email it back to my student. Obviously this is missing some quality of life features here that may keep this being a viable option for many teachers. There is no real organization, no way to make classes, keep track of your uploaded documents in the cloud, it all has to be done manually. The student has to email you (or share it with you through their cloud storage solution). You have to download it. If it’s not a PDF, you have to convert it to a PDF. Then grade it, download it and then email it back to the student. It’s just not a great experience.

Using the Android app

This is a different story.

The app has a number of the features I was looking for. You can create a class, you can invite students and it keeps a record of what has been submitted and you can go back to those files.

Nice

One thing that is an issue is that students must use the mobile app and they must have a mobile number to set up the account the first time. Since I only have a single number and used it already for my own account I had to get creative with Google Voice to make my student account, but in the end I was successful. I guess students having smartphones is much more common in India than America. If that is the case then this does make some sense. I don’t think America teachers (even high school) would use this app given this restriction. Teachers don’t want to know their student’s phone numbers (in most cases). Hopefully in the future they will let students sign up with email accounts.

Once in the app though, it is pretty simple to join a class, just put in the class code and you are connected. The app is pretty straightforward. There are no assignments to upload to, as a student you just upload a PDF or image of your work and then the teacher can mark it up. That’s about it. Check out the slideshow below to see that process.

Once it has been submitted the teacher goes into the app and marks it up. It is all pretty straightforward.

Grading work

Now that the students have done all the hard work it is time for the teacher to do their part and grade the submitted work. The teacher opens the app

As you can see it is pretty bare bones. One feature the mobile app has over the desktop app is the ability to add voice comments. I do like the fact that the teacher has to Send to Student before they can see the results.

If you want to add additional comments or feedback after you’ve already marked it, that is no problem. Just open up the PDF/image and hit the Edit button and you’re back to editing.

Conclusion

This is not for your average teacher. The fact that students need to use a phone number to sign up is a big hurdle for many (at least in America). I also would like a little more organization in the app. I would like the teacher to be able to make assignments for students and have students submit their work to that specific assignment. Right now, it looks like there is just a big list of files to plow through.

There are options to leave a grade for the work and I wish those grades would be visible for the teacher and the student someplace in the app so they could quickly see their progress from one assignment to another.

I think this is more for a teacher that is doing lots of remote work and even then, Edmodo or Schoology seems to be a better solution, but if your students only have a smartphone they don’t have Google, Microsoft or Zoho account, then maybe this is the way to go.

Finally, there needs to be some cloud integration with Google, Microsoft, Zoho, Dropbox, Box, really just anything. It will make it easier for students to keep track of their work and make it easier for everyone to sign up and sign in.

Overall, this isn’t a bad app. It does exactly what it claims to do, it just needs more functionality to be something I would recommend to other teachers.

My new computer

ZenBook Duo

Yep, I pulled the trigger and have purchased a new computer. It is the Asus Zenbook Duo (model# UX482EG-XS74). I’m not going to review it, if you’re looking for a comprehensive, fair, detailed and excellent review you should read Andrei Girbea’s review from Ultrabook Review.com. There you will find an honest picture of what this machine can and cannot do. It highlights all the good and bad of this device and was the review that helped me decide on this machine.

Continue reading “My new computer”

iPad Pro vs MacBook Air M1

HOT TAKE ALERT!!!!!! The iPad Pro is not a good deal and schools should stay away from it!

I guess that’s not really a hot take but more of an obvious opinion. Let me explain where this is coming from.

My school assigns MacBooks to our staff. We like the build quality, the ease to use and manage MacOS and the fact that it has good battery life and updates don’t seem to break the OS (side glancing at you Microsoft). In short, they are good value for the money and when there are issues, Apple is quick to help us resolve them.

Continue reading “iPad Pro vs MacBook Air M1”

Forky – A review

Yes it is 🙂

I like mind mapping tools. I use it every now and again to brainstorm solutions to complex issues. It helps get a good view of everything I need to consider and to prioritize which areas to focus on and how.

Forky.io is another in a long line of online options out there for mind mapping. The idea behind this is that it is a simple and collaborative tool that keeps the mind map front and center. No clunky windows, not a lot of unnecessary menus – just your mind map.

Continue reading “Forky – A review”

mote for Gmail

Not too long ago I wrote a review about mote. To sum it up, it is a Chrome extension that will allow you add voice comments to Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Classroom. I like it, it works well. When giving feedback to students sometimes a voice is better than a short comment. It allows you to really emphasis what you liked or to give criticism. It works well, it’s easy to install and easy to use.

Continue reading “mote for Gmail”

Fun April Fools’ Day

I’m a little bummed. The last few years my school has had spring break over April Fools’ Day (April 1). I’m not a huge prankster at all, but it can be kind of fun to have a little harmless fun with the staff and students on this day. Sure, it’ll be a distraction so give a heads up to the admin team and maybe even the teachers as well.

Continue reading “Fun April Fools’ Day”

Episode 188 – Safe Search

It’s been a while but we finally made it back behind the mic. Tony and I talk a long while about a great number of issues. Check out the talking notes below and as always please subscribe to us on Apple Music or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. We’re back!
    1. Tony
      Has it been a month!!! 
    2. Amplified IT purchased by CDW
    3. Streamlined Classroom AV
  2. Tony – No more SAT/ACT – GPAs- No Grades – and What you need to do if you want to do this…
    1. Amazon QuickSight – https://aws.amazon.com/quicksight/
  3. Safe search, firewall, etc.
    1. OnCampus
      1. Cisco Umbrella
      2. DNS Restrictions
      3. GoGuardian
      4. Websense
      5. 6th Gen Firewall
      6. Google Admin Reports
      7. Cisco Meraki Reports
    2. OffCampus
      1. GoGuardian 
      2. Google Admin Reports 
      3. Umbrella 
      4. New training videos for parents, but they won’t watch them (we had a parent engagement webinar)
    3. COPPA – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule 
      1. Must adhere to qualify for eRate
      2. https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/childrens-online-privacy-protection-rule
  4. Podcasting news!
    1. New Zoom products – I bought it!
      Zoom PodTrak P8 Portable Multitrack Podcast Recorder
    2. Anchor.fm + WordPress = Podcast

You can alwasy download this episode HERE

Listen to it below

WordPress.com – Damn it

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

My last three posts have been screwed up by my blogging platform. WordPress.com published my last three posts (Whiteboard.fi – A review, WordPress + Anchor.fm = Podcast? and A/V in our classrooms) as earlier versions than the final version. Basically it was publishing drafts of my posts which explains why they appear to be unfinished.

Damn it.

Luckily WordPress.com keeps versions of all your posts and I was able to find the finished version and publish those versions in place of the drafts.

Here is what I think happened. WordPress.com has two post editors. One is called the “Classic Editor” and it is rock solid. The other version is the called the “Block Editor” which is a little buggy but clearly the future of what WordPress.com wants its users to use. In all three of those posts I used both editors thinking that the content would have updated regardless of editor but I guess not.

I’ve learned and will keep a more watchful eye on those posts going forward.

A/V in our classrooms

This post will give you a rundown of what we currently use for our A/V solution and what we are going to be switching to. I will be using specific names of products (and current prices if I can find them), but that is in no way IT Babble promoting those items. IT Babble receives no ad revenue or any financial compensation for mentioning them. This is just what my school is doing and what works for us. This set up may be complete overkill for some schools or completely not appropriate for others.

If you have questions, leave them in the comments. We moderate all comments so it will post when Tony or myself approve it and then I will respond. Continue reading “A/V in our classrooms”