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Review of Doceri on iPad Pro: Is it worth it?

Wook-EYE by Jason Gilmore

Why the iPad Pro?

Recently I purchased the iPad Pro. One of the first apps I opened on the oversized iOS device was, of course Doceri. Previously, I purchased a wonderful (and expensive) stylus to help me make screencasts for my special education history/english/art classes. The stylus is the Adonit Jot Script 1. One selling point of the Script was it connects with devices through Bluetooth. If you are lucky enough to have a newer device with Bluetooth 4.0 the Script rejects marks made by your palm. Thus, it was an easy decision to upgrade to the latest and greatest for the connectivity. The other major plus was the amount of real estate that I can now draw on.

It IS about sizeIMG_0194

On top of being a special educator I am also an artist. Specifically, I am a muralist. The difference between drawing on the iPad2 and the iPad Pro is as different as drawing in a sketchbook and on a 15 ft wall. More space to create is 1000 times better! As far as having more space to create screencasts on Doceri the near $1000 purchase (129GB version) was completely worth it for what I want to accomplish with the machine. I will be producing more screencasts and so far I have been able to produce them faster because I don’t have pinch, zoom, and reposition the screen nearly as much. This is a minor set of actions, but when you’re doing that action 100 x’s per screencast the time adds up.

The Machine

IMG_0193The machine is beautiful! It’s thinner and lighter than my old iPad2. Thus, presenting in class is actually a lighter/ freer experience.  It’s also FAST!! Downloads and uploads of files are screaming! My aim was not to replace my district issued laptop but to add to my arsenal of productivity. I did purchase the backlit keyboard from Logitech. It’s light and easy to type on. So far, a win. I did also purchase the Apple Pencil. It is on back order until February (I ordered it on Dec 31st!) It will be very interesting to compare the Script to the Pencil. I highly recommend moving to a bigger and brighter new iPad screen if you’re going to be screencasting on a regular basis. It is worth it to me to spend more money on the stylus as not making errant marks with your palm saves time. My lesson making and drawing life is now 1000 times more enjoyable. Who knows what new developments this larger format will bring to production. For now, the iPad Pro and Doceri are helping me connect with my students and saving me time. What’s that worth?

This is my first screencast using the iPad Pro (An example I made for my kids who are expected to make their first screencast to teach the class about Native Americans specific to a region of North America (pre colonization) using the text from TCI’s History Alive.): 


Doceri Screencast Film Festival: Benjamin Cogswell 1.1

I remember in grad school one of my professors telling me, “You don’t really know a concept well until you teach it to others.” This is an idea that stuck with me throughout my teaching career. It is the whole notion of making the students the teachers – pushing kids into the creating phase of Bloom’s taxonomy, and also kicking it up a notch when they are teaching an audience the concept. Above all, equipping the students with the tech tools of Doceri and screencasting, the students are given a venue to teach others as well. It has given the opportunity for all students to become a reviewable, rewindable, and some-what anonymous teacher for both their classmates and a larger audience as well.

Enter Ms. Carey’s fifth grade class in Salinas, CA, a 1-1 class full of iPads and the power of Doceri. On November 3rd, Ms. Carey and I decided to have students participate in a Doceri Math Film Festival with the grand prize of being featured on Coach Ben’s Youtube Channel.

The Game Plan

In groups of 3, students were tasked to make a 3-5 minutes video as a team that reviewed one of the Math concepts that they had learned so far. Students were to make a screencast with a title slide, an objective, an example, and a credit slide. First, student’s brainstormed a list of all the math concepts they had learned so far. In groups of 3, each group chose a topic they felt comfortable teaching and screencasting. Then, they had had to work together and plan their screencast. Finally, they began their presentations in class. A few weeks later, the official film festival took place. Students took notes, and gave feedback to their peers, and in the end the winners were given the “Oscar.” The winners are posted here.

Post Game

Ms. Carey and myself were happy with the overall results of student learning. We viewed this as a type of pre-assessment of screencasting skills. Students had some previous knowledge of Doceri from 4th grade. However, at the start of this year, students have been given little instruction on screencasting. Our plan is to do a few more film festivals throughout the year to measure growth, review key math concepts, and give students a chance to become the teacher.  At the end of this assignment, we asked students what they had learned from screencasting. Below are their responses:

Student Responses:

Alondra: I learned that working with other people is better than yourself only. I also learned how fun it is to make videos with other people.

Diana: I learned to work in a team. It was fun. It was more like a review of everything that we have done in math.

Jacob: I learned how to work better with peers.

Brandon: What I learned from the film festival was that you have to aline the decimals on all problems,which are multiplying,adding,subtracting and dividing.And all the ways you can do that.

Stephanie: Making the video was a pretty simple and quick, but showing it on the board was difficult. 1 classmate made me feel better by saying they didn’t really see anything wrong, but I still thought I could improve. While making the video I learned how to explain my topic much better than I used to. The video improved my explaining skills slightly.

Jesus: What I learned is that I need to do it more correctly.

Jenna: What I think I learned from the video were just about all we learned this year and more information and better understanding, and what I learned from making the video was a better way to make a video and even my example gave me a better understanding.

Natalia: What I learned about the math videos is that there is to many ways to solve a problem!!!!!!!!!!

Support and Access In the Doceri Classroom: Kim Laabs 1.1

High School Math teacher Kim Laabs is the first teacher to have the full Doceri Classroom installed in her classroom at San Marin High School in Novato. Kim’s students have been privy to high quality audio enveloping the room in crystal clear sound. When she’s playing one of her own videos for the whole class they won’t miss an instruction. “The kids are actually commenting on the quality of the sound!, stated Mrs. Laabs.” They also enjoy when they are working and Mrs. Laabs puts on music to work by and they can actually hear it.

The other piece of equipment that is impacting the flow of Kim’s teaching is simple but has made life while teaching more enjoyable is the Pixie Pro Media Wall Control Panel. Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 9.05.23 PM

She easily switches from her document camera to computer and back again. No lag in changing devices while in mid lesson means engagement can be kept active. Kim says that it’s just been luxurious to not have to be stuck at a media center in the middle of the room and absolutely lovely to be using speakers that work and sound like a concert rather than sound from two tin cans and a string.

As usual the Doceri iPad app and Doceri Desktop has been a fabulous aid in allowing her students access to calculus, algebra, and prealgebra lessons. She records her lectures daily unless she has prerecorded the lesson. Either way the material that she is expecting her students to learn is posted on her school website and on her YouTube channel. Often she will receive an email from a student or two asking for clarification on a concept and she can easily point them back to the video she has posted. Kim says,”The Doceri Classroom has been an invaluable tool for my students especially the ones who need more time with the material. I spend a lot less time reteaching due to the quality of support I can pour into my videos.” Mrs. Laabs goes on to state,”I truly do expect all teachers to be making videos in the future especially since it’s so easy to do! The amount of time it gives me with my students during class is very worth the time I put into making screncasts. Doceri is giving me more quality time with my students and I can see the difference in their understanding.”


Mrs. Tishler’s Hard to Fail Approach

Here’s a screencast with a whole set of directions to produce a math foldable Perfect Square Chart for an interactive notebook by Mrs. Tishler. How long would this have taken to go through in class? How many kids would have to be redirected if these directions were spoken live? How many students would be lost a quarter the way through? With a Doceri screencast a series of directions can be replayed at will. So many differentiations accommodations covered in one action. It would be hard to fail Mrs. Tishler’s class!

My 2nd Teacher’s Aid in the room: Doceri

Today I had two students come back from a few days of being sick. Of Course they were behind. I am a middle school special educator with an art credential. My classes are social studies integrated with art. Every day we begin class with about 10 minutes of drawing. My drawing lessons are the first drawing lessons that my classroom aid has ever had so her ability to reteach my lessons is limited at best.

Usually, I would have to abandon the kids that were ready to move to help catch up the late comers. Instead, I stayed with the kids that were ready to go, gave my iPad with the lesson from the past two days to the students, told them how to advance one stroke at a time, and let Doceri catch them up. It worked beautifully! With very little effort I differentiated my instruction. My aid helps the kids with visual and fine motor coordination issues, I moved the higher level kids along, and Doceri caught the returning students up. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Here’s a screencast recorded live from that two point perspective lesson: 


Teacher Feature: Kenny Bosch: 1.1

Recently Doceri Teacher, Kenny Bosch Flipped his Parent Teacher Conference made with iMovie and Doceri. It’s a great example of a teacher using technology to develop the parent/ teacher relationship. Kenny uses a Doceri screencast to front load his students’ parents with all the nuts and bolts of the class so he can give all meeting time to talk about student performance with parents.

Kenny said the screencast made the conversations move more quickly, and  allowed for more time to talk about the student. He even said he left his iPad in the hallway for parents waiting to talk to him. Kenny stated,”Those that could not watch the screencast at home watched it before they spoke with me. Doceri helped me to move conferences along by answering basic questions and it sparked ideas for questions. Our conversations were a little more rich and meaningful.”

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Teacher Feature: Benjamin Cogswell (EdTech Trainer): 1.0

proxy-image-1Name: Benjamin Cogswell

School: Alisal Union School District

Province: Salinas, Monterey County, California

Job Title: TOSA-Technology Trainer

How do you Doceri? 

Doceri is hands down my favorite app to use on the iPad. It was a game changer for me. I always enjoy sharing its awesomeness with other educators.

Doceri has allowed me to do many things: It draws attention and brings reflection to my own teaching through screencasts. Students gain voice and agency over their own learning. With Doceri Desktop, I have been freed from my desktop to roam around the classroom while still connected to my whiteboard. I can pause and hand a student my iPad as s/he works through a math problem while the class watches. My teaching becomes a rewindable and reviewable lesson that can follow students home.

What have been the reactions of your students, other staff, admin, parents to your use of Doceri?

“Amazed” is the reaction of staff and admin when I am able to annotate a YouTube video while in the back of the classroom. Parents love the fact that difficult lessons can be sent home to be replayed over again in the comforts of their home. Students love being able to approach their learning in a more creative way. It gives them a sense of pride and ownership when they get to see their video on the big screen.

One of the schools I worked with loves Doceri so much that it is on every single student’s iPad (K-6), every teacher’s iPad, as well as every teacher’s computer. Kindergartners have gone home with recorded videos of sight words, while sixth graders have made a video outlining the Hero’s Journey as referenced in The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

What was your experience getting students started on creating their own screencasts?

My students and I learned a lot lot that very first year of screencasting.I had just gotten the iPads and decided to jump right in. At first we tried to cover too much content by recording and writing at the same time. We learned to draw first THEN record. It was a humbling process as teacher and students grew side by side.

This process also changed the way I thought about assessment. Instead of grading a whole page of math where I couldn’t see the students thinking, I was now able to identify mistakes by having them do a single problem and articulate their thinking as they went through the problem describing each step as they wrote it. Furthermore, students were able to learn from each other during class. After discussions on constructive peer feedback, students were able to watch their classmates’ videos to help identify mistakes or learn from each other’s models. Student learning became visceral, rewindable, and transparent for both the teacher, the student, the student’s peers, and even sometimes the student’s family.

Not only have I engaged with students making new screencasts. I have also used it as a tool at home. My daughter has even used it to review for her Chinese class. Doceri is a very effective tool because when writing Hanzi, stroke order is very important. Doceri allowed my daughter to practice and review the characters that were on her test. Here are some of the videos that she made:

How has Doceri changed how you interact with your students during lectures/ presentations/ small group instruction?

When I used to make notes on the whiteboard in the front of the class with my back turned to the students, I was just hoping that they were engaged and following along. I would do my example on the board and paused to check for understanding along the way. Of course as soon as I erased the board to start the next example, a student would raise his or her hand and ask a question about the previous example. 

So, how has Doceri helped?

Doceri gave me freedom as a teacher. I ditched my desk and can directly instruct in the back of the classroom or go stand next to a “squirrely” student using the age old technique of proximity. When a student has a question about a previous example, I can reverse the timeline to review the problem. I can even have another student explain the previous problem as it plays in real time.  For small groups, if a student is having trouble with a particular concept, I can make a video that the student can watch and rewatch again and even pause to work and think.

Have you flipped your classroom?

I have not flipped my classroom but prefer a blended approach. Creating content takes time, so I focus on the concepts that students really struggle with. Sometimes I’ll make videos and introduce concepts in class, and then let the students take those videos home as a reference.

In addition, I have found the benefit of making the screencasts is it helps give my lessons more focus. Since I am recording at home, and not in real time, it lets me really cogitate on how to scaffold student learning.

Doceri has also been useful in developing my own child’s learning. As a homework assignment, my daughter was supposed to watch a math video on a very popular instructional site. I loved the concept, but thought the video was above my daughter’s head. She was only a second grader. The video was made to meet a fourth grade standard. I decided to take matters into my own hands, but instead of explaining the concept to her, I made two videos that she could watch to fulfill her assignment.

Do you have any advice for teachers new to using Doceri, creating screencasts, or integrating tech into their class routines?

Start small. Building skills with new tools takes time. Pick a small project and stick to it. It always takes longer in the beginning, but once you learn the tool, it moves much faster.

Don’t try to flip everything at once. Focus on projects and screencasts that will get the most bang for their buck. Pick concepts that are difficult for students to grasp.

“Perfect is the enemy of complete.” This is my work motto. Every video I make seems to have some kind of error.  Play around with the app. I think one of the reasons children supposedly pick up technology faster than adults is because of their innate curiosity and the ability to play. Be like a child and just have fun with the app.

Stick to the basic concept and keep the videos short. I definitely tried to stick too much content into my first videos, which can be overwhelming for both the creator of the video and the students who are watching it. And just enjoy the journey!

Compatibility Issues Between Doceri Desktop and EL Capitan

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.00.15 PMDoceri users are advised to DELAY upgrading their Apple Macs to OSX, El Capitan. Doceri Desktop will cease to work with the new OS installed. The compatibility issues will be resolved as soon as possible. SP Controls apologizes for any inconvenience.

Teacher Feature: Kenny Bosch 1.0

Kenny BoschScreen Shot 2015-09-28 at 5.50.58 PM

School: Muskego High School, Muskego, WI

District:  Muskego-Norway School District

Job Titles: Grade 9, World History, Grade 11 American Issues Teacher – Graduate Course Instructor through- Midwest Teacher’s Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph, IN.

How do you use Doceri? Do you use Doceri Desktop as well as the iPad app?

I use both Doceri Desktop and the iPad app. I use Doceri to control my desktop computer, presentations and make recordings to use in my flipclass. I also use Doceri to add content on the fly in class and annotate over online and presentation materials.

What have been the reactions of your students, other staff, admin, parents to Your use of Doceri?

Doceri always has an initial “wow” response followed by, “I want that!” when I show Doceri to staff. My students love how they are able to contribute to a class discussion or answer a question on the screen without having to leave their desk. Students even use my iPad and Doceri to present to the class. Students and parents love the recordings that I make to explain class content because they are able to review the lesson as many times as needed.

What was your experience getting students started on creating their own screencasts?

Most students are hesitant to start screencasting but over time they open up. I have gone to making one of the early projects of the year a mandatory screencast so that the students get over the fear. After they make their first one they enjoy making more.

How has Doceri changed how you interact with your students during lectures/ presentations/ small group instruction?

Doceri gives you the freedom to move around the classroom and not be tethered to your computer or stand at the screen. I love the ability to add content on the fly as it comes to my head and annotate over anything. Doceri allows each presentation to truly become unique.

Have you flipped your classroom?

Yes, I flipped my classroom four years ago.

Do you have any advice for teachers new to using Doceri, creating screencasts, or integrating tech into their class routines?

My advice is always to start somewhere. You do not have to go “all in.” You can flip any part of your classroom. I tell people to flip a favorite lesson or activity, or flip their least favorite activity. Find something to change that you will be motivated to complete the work. Also, flip one chapter or unit per quarter. Lastly, you do not have to be the expert in all or even most of the technology. Your students will know or will learn most of it and they can teach each other and even teach you how to use it.

Contact Kenny @kennybosch

Kenny’s books are available for sale on Kenny’s Blog and Amazon.com:

  • Flipping 2.0 Practical Strategies to Flip Your Class
  • Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development


Teacher Feature: Kim Laabs: 1.0

Name: Kim LaabsKLaabs

School:  San Marin High School

District: Novato Unified School District

Job Title: Mathematics Teacher / Department Chair

How do you use Doceri? Do you use Doceri Desktop as well as the iPad app?

I began using Doceri in 2013 to make screencasts in order to flip instruction in my math class.  Additionally, I  have made screencasts to respond to emailed questions from former students who have gone on to college.  Currently, with a more investigative approach to our curriculum, I make screencasts to help fill in some background information, answer homework questions, and to make connections between the current topic and the investigation done in class.  In the classroom,  I use Doceri iPad app to create PDF’s of the lesson and the Doceri Desktop to project the lesson.  This allows me to roam the classroom and not tethered to the computer, presenter or whiteboard.  As I roam, I am able to quickly capture a picture of what students are doing and project it for all to see, allowing student work to help direct our class discussions.  I can annotate, or have students annotate on the PDF lesson as well.  Then after class, I post these lessons online for students who are absent or need a reminder.

What have been the reactions of your students, other staff, admin, parents to Your use of Doceri?

Students ask for specific videos to be created – they love the ability to watch at their own pace, replay difficult concepts, and rewatch for test/quiz review.  Students also like the lessons posted with the annotations from class, as during investigations and projects, the typical notetaking seen in teacher directed lessons is less emphasized in lieu of notes on the project or data collection.  When I have a lesson using the whiteboard with no posted lesson PDF, many students object saying how helpful it is to be able to go back and review what we discussed in class online. 

Several of the staff at my school have also begun to use Doceri, both the app and Doceri Desktop in their lessons including our PE Department.  I have done presentations and workshops for our district and there are teachers in elementary and middle school who now use both the app and desktop in their curriculum.  Most teachers note the easy learning curve for both products.  The Doceri Certified Training Course is fantastic!

I have received many positive parent comments to the videos and the lessons as well.  One parent was very excited as they told me that they felt as if they too were enrolled in my Algebra 2 course!  For Back-to-School Night, I posed a question to the parents and had them work in groups to find the area of a triangle.  It was to help demonstrate the investigative approach to mathematics, our use of group work, and explain that there can be many “right” ways to approach a problem.  The goal was not just to find the area, but to find as many ways possible to find the area.  Parents got very excited about the problem, and because it it was such a short time, and we didn’t have time for closure, I posted a video if they wanted to explore further.  Several parents liked it so much they turned in their own approach later!  https://youtu.be/63Ks7BrCK6A

What was your experience getting students started on creating their own screencasts?

A few of my students have created screencasts working out homework problems.  The ease of the app makes it fun for them to use.  Some of my STEM students have used the app in creating videos for their engineering course.  

How has Doceri changed how you interact with your students during lectures/ presentations/ small group instruction?

Doceri has helped change my curriculum to be student centered and an easy transition to investigative, inquiry based instruction.  Our classes are more discussions with students making connections to previous work.  It also makes it easy for one group to present their findings to others. 

Have you flipped your classroom?

I did flip my classroom for a time, and then our district changed the math curriculum to be more investigative.  Whether or not it is direct instruction in the classroom or on a screencast, it is still direct instruction – teacher driven.  At times, this is a very powerful method of instruction.  I like the direct instruction to be done by screencasts with classroom time left for student directed inquiry and investigation.  This helps diversify the instruction students receive. 

Do you have any advice for teachers new to using Doceri, creating screencasts, or integrating tech into their class routines?

 JUST START!  When working with my students, I remind them that pushing buttons will NOT make the iPad spontaneously burst into flames! Make a few screencasts – ask for honest feedback from a friend or two.  Find other videos on YouTube that you like, and see what it is that you can recreate. Take the Doceri Certified Training Course!!  It includes many many tips and features.

  • PINCH AND ZOOM – One of my favorite Doceri features is the pinch and zoom.  It allows me to write neatly (I have tried many many whiteboard and screencasts apps, and Doceri is by far the best!).  My handwriting on Doceri is so much better than it is on paper.  I tried out LOTS of stylus, as well as using my finger alone.  Finding what makes you most comfortable really helps.
  • Start with Bones, then Refine – Some people write out whole scripts, a kind of storyboard.  I find that as I write on the app, I start with the basic outline, then go back and edit.  I add examples, or make it more “artsy” as needed and if I have time.  The GREAT thing is that once done, I can use the same lesson over and over for multiple classes and even years – OR I have the option to edit as needed for different classes and the needs of the students. In Short – Keep the screencasts short.  I try to limit my videos to 7 minutes, but some are closer to 11 or 12.  I’ll go back and edit the longer ones – or split them into two separate videos.