Featured Blog of the Week: Blogging in the Classroom

This week’s featured blogger is Kate Chan who, as a teacher, uses BlogPad Pro with her students to support her foreign language teaching.

Tell us about your blog

Actually, I have two blogs.  One – my personal blog – is called GlutenFreeGobsmacked.com.  I blog randomly with gluten free recipes after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2000.

The other blogs I write relate to my profession.  One is simply a website (powered by wordpress.org) to help my students.  TheMaxFacts.com (Named after our old dog, Max) has primarily been a place where I can post homework, supporting links, parent communication, etc for my classes.  I began the site a long time ago – but it’s most recent “blog” format is the easiest for me to update and maintain.  After all, I’m not a computer teacher/techie – but I love the ease of communicating with my students and their families this way.

I recently began (although it’s very random when I get a chance to post) a blog that I have been using to talk about my development and learning as a new classroom set of iPads instructor.  It’s really exciting – and sometimes exhausting! – and I found that sharing out has helped me connect with other educators who are doing interesting things in their classrooms as well.  (My blog is still complete in its infancy.  I don’t know where it will take me, but if you are curious, it can be found here:  profachan.wordpress.com)

blogging in schools

How much of your blogging do you do on your iPad?

I truly sought out a blogging platform for the iPad for my students.  I’m a foreign language instructor, I wanted to find a way for my students to share out as they began their language development.  Once I became a recipient of a classroom set of iPads, I needed to find an app that would support multiple users, multiple wordpress.com blogs, offline use (as we can lose internet at the drop of a hat).

I am slowly converting myself to blogging via iPad.  I have to find a way to be more efficient with images/media as many are on my laptop.  However, that being said, I love the ability to upload images via BlogPad Pro and have the app help me resize, etc.  Super Slick. My goal is to be blogging at least 3 times each week from my iPad in class to save myself time rather than blogging from a laptop or desktop after school/at night.

My students blog at least once a week. (160 students x 1 a week = just in my classes alone!) It was so successful last semester (or first trial run) that I have brought two more colleagues into the loop.  One will begin this fall with blogs for her classes and the other will roll out blogging for more of her students.  Having students write and post things suddenly brought about more focus and drive.  Students weren’t just repeating random silly sentences to bury in the middle of the papers in hopes that my midnight grading stupors would miss it.  Their work really developed over the course of our online blogging.  I will be doing it again next year and have created some benchmarks to help students see their growth through blogging as well.

blogging in schools

How many blogs do you have?

I mentioned mine earlier.  My students have created about 160 wordpress blogs.  My colleague began with 70 of her students last Spring and will add an additional 100 this year to the fold.  I will have another 135 new students this year (overlap of about 30 from last year’s classes).  The third colleague will blog once a week with her group of 150 as well.

That’s a lot of blogging!

blogging in schools

Which features within BlogPad Pro do you use the most?

Being able to import images and instantly resize/etc is a HUGE luxury.  Students have sometimes not finished their blog posts before class is over but they always get their images uploaded.  The few who have not finished with the images are at a complete loss for how to manage that side of blogging from home.  It’s just so simple with BlogPad Pro.  I just can’t say this enough about this tool for us.

In addition, being able to blog while offline, update/sync to live, format posts, log in/out with various users/usernames are all critical pieces that had us choose BlogPad Pro.  As teachers who use/integrate technology we *know* there will be hurdles and we are not going to sacrifice our curriculum for the “bling” of a techie-shiny thing.  Not wasting time on that stuff while trying to get students to focus on the task at hand (our content exploration/study) was essential.  These tools (offline blogging, etc) allowed our students to worry about their content first.  Just as good bloggers should.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without such amazing support and communication I would wonder if I’d lost my mind trying to blog with my students.  Blogging individually and facilitating 160 + students (and colleagues/their classes) with blogging is a totally different world than just my own little world of GlutenFreeGobsmacked.com   It’s exciting to see kids “go public” with their skills (no matter what level they are with their language development) and “share out”.  It’s meeting them where they are.  Dino and Mary allowed and supported that to happen with grace, humor and amazing selflessness.

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http://www.GlutenFreeGobsmacked.com

If you use BlogPad Pro and would be interested in being featured please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!

Issues with bbPress Forum Plugin

We have discovered that the bbPress forum plugin is creating issues for some self-hosted WordPress blog users with the latest version of BlogPad Pro (version 1.3). 

The plugin uses some custom user roles which are unrecognised by BlogPad Pro and means that when you add your blog you have really limited user privileges. You won’t be able to add and upload images, publish posts etc.

Now that we’ve become aware of this issue our developer is working on a fix, and this should be ready to resubmit to the App Store soon. 

Please bear with us, it takes a bit of time to get a new version of BlogPad Pro ready for release as we like to do thorough user testing and we also have no control over how long it takes Apple to approve the new version of the app (although generally that takes about a week if it goes smoothly and the queue of apps waiting isn’t too long).

One thing you can try in the meantime is to disable the bbPress plugin. I know this may not be something you want to do, and if the plugin is bundled in with a theme (like for example the Enfold theme) this may not fix the problem unless you temporarily change your theme too. 

Thanks for your patience and your feedback which has helped us to get to the bottom of this issue, and you’ll be notified as soon as the bug fix is ready to download! It’s tough to build an app which works with thousands of custom plugins and themes as it’s impossible for us to have every plugin installed ourselves, but with your feedback we can fix most things 🙂

How to fix an issue uploading images in BlogPad Pro 1.3

If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog and have upgraded to Version 1.3 of BlogPad Pro you may have experienced an issue with uploading images. You no longer have the option to upload images from your iPad, or DropBox and these options are greyed-out. This issue only seems to affect a few self-hosted WordPress users and is simple to fix.

So why has this happened?

When you update BlogPad Pro to version 1.3, any existing blogs you had added should have been “upgraded” to take full advantage of some changes we have made relating to User Roles (i.e. Whether your WordPress login account is an administrator, editor, etc).

However, there appears to be a bug in WordPress’s self-hosted code. It seems that, even though the login account is an “administrator”, the WordPress XMLRPC API (Application Programming Interface) still doesn’t report the correct Role. We suspect that the API isn’t reporting any Role at all, at this stage.

By re-saving the role, it seems that this then fixes the problem because the WordPress API will finally report the correct Role for the user. We will be passing this information on to WordPress for them to look at from their side too, as well as trying to work around it in future versions of BlogPad Pro.

How to fix the problem?

There are 3 quick and easy things to try which should manually trigger this “upgrade” and fix the problem.

The first thing to do is to update your version of WordPress to the most recent version. To do this just go to your Web Dashboard and follow the prompts to update to the latest version of WordPress.

Another thing to try is, for any blogs affected, go to “Manage Blogs” (that’s the blue button at the top of the menu bar) select the right-facing arrow to show the “Blog Options” and tap on “Update Settings From Live”. This should re-retrieve your account’s User Role and you should then be able to add images, etc.

Update Blog Settings in BlogPad Pro

For the majority of users this quick update will fix the problem.

If this doesn’t work, then this is what you need to do to get around the bug in the WordPress code…

Go to your Blog’s Dashboard from “Manage Blogs” by selecting the right-facing arrow to show the “Blog Options” (as above)  and tap on “Go To Web Dashboard”. Go to the “Users -> All Users”.

For the user that you are having problem with, ensure that the checkbox for that user is checked (on the left hand side of that blog) and then select “Change role to…” and select the correct Role and tap on the “Change” button.

Update Blog Settings in BlogPad Pro

(NOTE: You have to do this even though it may already be showing as Administrator, because this is where the bug is in the WordPress API! By performing this task, you are ensuring that the API should now know the correct role for your login). Alternatively, you can update the Role for any particular user by tapping on “Edit” for that user on the “All Users” screen. Once you have done this, you now need to trigger the manual “upgrade” again as mentioned in the previous paragraph. You may even trigger this upgrade by leaving BlogPad Pro and coming back to it (eg by pressing on the iPad’s Home button and then returning to BlogPad Pro again).

It’s worth noting that (as far as we know) we’re the only people using WordPress’s very latest API, even WordPress themselves are not using this API yet for their own iOS app!

If this does NOT fix the issue for you, then please get in touch (it is very easy to do this from within BlogPad Pro from the Help Options, by either tapping on “Ask a Question”, “Send Us Feedback” or “Report A Bug”).

Using TextExpander Touch with BlogPad Pro on your iPad

How to use TextExpander Touch on your iPad with BlogPad Pro

In the latest release of BlogPad Pro we’ve added lots of new features including adding support for TextExpander Touch. If you haven’t heard of TextExpander Touch it’s a great app for your iPad which allows you to “type more with less effort”. You set up shortcodes and when you type them they are substituted with a block of text. This saves you a huge amount of time if you find yourself frequently re-typing the same phrase!

For example, I’ve gone into TextExpander Touch (below) set up the shortcode “BPP” to be substituted with “BlogPad Pro: the best blogging app in the world!”

TextExpander Touch

Now if I type the phrase “BPP” within BlogPad Pro it is automatically changed to “BlogPad Pro: the best blogging app in the world!”

This works in the visual editor (WYSIWYG) mode  – and we’re proud to say we’re currently the only blog editor for the iPad which can offer this. It also works in Markdown mode:

Markdown Mode for blog editing with BlogPad Pro

and also in html mode:

TextExpander Touch in html Mode for blog editing

But what if I don’t want to use TextExpander in BlogPad Pro?

If you prefer your TextExpander Touch shortcodes NOT to work in BlogPad Pro you can simply switch this option off. Go to settings (that’s the green button in the bottom left), scroll down until you see ‘TextExpander Touch Support Enabled’ and switch this to OFF.

NEW Spell Check and Search/Replace in BlogPad Pro

We’ve introduced lots of new features in the latest release of BlogPad Pro for iPad (you can find out more about these here). 

Some of the most requested features were the introduction of a Spell Check, a Search/Replace option for searching within your open post or page, and a Word Count.

You can see how they work in the video and screenshots below:

Below: Easily identify and correct spelling mistakes with our spell checker. You can also drag the Spell Check box around the screen and place it where you want to. The Word Count is also on this screen.

Below: Search for words in your post or page text. You also have the option to replace or replace all.

Search and replace in BlogPad Pro

You can read about more new features from BlogPad Pro 1.3 here.

New app features: How to take a photo within BlogPad Pro

BlogPad Pro version 1.3 is now available. It is packed with great new features, improvements and bug fixes. You can update your copy by going to our page in the App Store and selecting ‘update’.

One of the great new features is the ability to take a photo from within BlogPad Pro.

How to take a photo within BlogPad Pro

Open the post you would like to add your image to and tap where you want to insert the image. Then tap on the ‘media’ icon in the toolbar (the one that looks like a camera).
 
You’ll see there is a new camera icon on the top right (see below) of the Photos dropdown box.

taking a photo from within BlogPad Pro blogging app

Tap on the camera icon and you can take your photo (I’m taking a photo of my keyboard here)

Taking a photo from within blogging app

When you’re happy with the photo you’ve taken tap the blue ‘Use’ button (bottom right). If you would like to re-take the photo tap on the ‘Retake’ button (bottom left).

Taking a photo within BlogPad Pro

You can now insert your image in the usual way:

Insert an image from iPad

And your photo is now in your blog post.

Insert and image from your ipad

You can see a full list of new features and bug fixes for Version 1.3 of BlogPad Pro here or update your copy by going here and tapping ‘Update’

A big thank you for all the 5-star reviews!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has left us such great reviews in the App Store! It makes a huge difference to whether we show up in search results, so we really appreciate it.
Our mission is to bring you the best blogging app for your iPad, so it’s great to hear so many of you love it.
If you’d like to share your love for BlogPad Pro you can leave an App Store review here, or if you have any questions or feedback please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you – we’ve seen how much you appreciate great customer service, so we’re always here to help!
Thanks to all of you who have given us such amazing feedback!

BlogPad Pro app reviews

Amazing! ★★★★★
by spindler – Version 1.2 – Feb 3, 2013
I have found this app to be simply amazing. Very well designed and very easy to use. The support team is also super quick to respond to any questions. I have nothing but positive things to say!
Best WordPress App on the market! ★★★★★
by hayesben40 – Version 1.2 – Feb 3, 2013

I have tried several WordPress apps and this is by far the best! The developer has went to a great details to ensure that the layout of his app is as user friendly as possible. I can easily sit back with my iPad and carryout many functions on my WordPress from the comfort of my iPad. If I could rate this higher than 5 stars I would! I would recommend anyone who has a WordPress site to buy this app! Another thing that is important. The developer is always looking at features that can be added to his app. He is very quick to respond to any questions / queries that I had. This is something that I look at before buying an app. Keep up the good work on this app guys!
Absolutely HANDS DOWN – the BEST WP blogging app ★★★★★
by k8chan – Version 1.2 – Jan 31, 2013
I have tried numerous apps – even the WP free blogging app (which is horrendous, IMHO, and unstable – posts don’t always update/post with THAT app – not this one!,etc.) This app has it all: -ability to work offline -link to multple WP blogs (including my wordpress.com AND a self-hosted WP blog) -easily supports and links with camera photos/uploading is a snap -SUPERIOR SUPPORT STAFF (I cannot say this enough – really!) Not only have I purchased this app for my personal iPad at home, but I am working to use it (if WP will figure out how to let 165 high school students log in/out frequently in the course of one school day) with my class set of iPads (35). Students (even my very non-tech savvy kids) are finding this app *very* easy to navigate and learn from. (Their biggest hurdle is really just blogging lingo like “headline photo” (or something like that). It’s so easy to scale imported images, etc as well. Today my students were able to create their first blog posts and some of them struggle with email – let alone typing on an iPad – it was great fun to have them take pictures of each other, edit/crop off heads (keeping it safe, ya know…lol) and start their writing projects about clothing/etc in Spanish (foreign language classroom). There is SO MUCH to love about this app. I cannot more highly recommend an app and am looking forward to using it to blog more frequently myself when I can catch a breath from my high-learning curved high-tech classroom. While the price point might make your finger hesitate before clicking purchase, trust me when I say this: This app is worth more than any other app. The interface, the ease of use, the offline capabilities (traveling? no problem…crappy wifi connectivity? no worries!), the SUPPORT staff and the seamless writing time. I don’t have to dink around with settings, I can just write. If you want to BLOG and you use WORDPRESS this is the App you are looking forward. You won’t regret it. Thank you for such great product. I’m looking forward to following your developments in the future.
The best ever ★★★★★
by a.a.d6 – Version 1.2 – Jan 17, 2013
I have tried all the blogging apps including the official WordPress app but each one has had some flaw that made it less productive and efficient. This app supersedes them all with features and has none of the flaws. I am so excited to have finally found the perfect blogging app for all my WordPress blogging needs. The latest update and big fixes make this worth a rating update to a five.

Wonderful ★★★★★
by sand625 – Version 1.2 – Jan 15, 2013
In fact its so good its the reason I decided to go with wordpress. Intuitive UI, lots of functions, by far the best blogging app I’ve used. If you have an ipad and a WP site – buy it.

Update even better ★★★★★
by JKingsburyPhoto – Version 1.2 – Jan 15, 2013
Since the latest update, this app has only improved! I’ve been putting it through its paces and haven’t had any issues. It works flawlessly and is the kick I needed to start blogging more.
Developer is Very Responsive ★★★★★
by Abou Nadim – Version 1.2 – Jan 15, 2013
I love the look and feel of this app and had a few suggestions for additional functionality and bug fixes. The developer was friendly, quick to respond and open to my ideas. It is great to find a developer willing to incorporate feedback from their customers! I love the latest update!
Best blogging app ever! ★★★★★
by I<3LDN – Version 1.1 – Dec 28, 2012
Really impressed with this app. Don’t even consider getting the WordPress app. All you need is BlogPad Pro, seriously! Really love it!
Superb ★★★★★
by Goislay – Version 1.1 – Dec 26, 2012
If you are an iPad user, don’t waste time with WordPress app – just get this – its brilliant – easy, helpful and it works – thank you ★★★★★
Fantastic app and support ★★★★★
by Rockz642 – Version 1.1 – Dec 24, 2012
When I first downloaded this app, it wouldn’t connect to my website (nothing to do with the app – faulty code on my site). I contacted support and I got a prompt reply, telling me that the error was on my site and giving me tips to find it. He even gave me the line of code which was breaking the site. After finding the code and deleting it, the app works amazingly. It connected quickly and downloaded all the files. The features are great and it really is worth buying. I haven’t found anything wrong with it at all. In conclusion, great app with amazing, friendly customer support. Just what everybody needs. I’ll definitely be using this from now on and recommend it to anyone.

New release: BlogPad Pro version 1.2 is packed with new features

We’ve just submitted version 1.2 of BlogPad Pro app to the App Store and we’re waiting for it to be approved. It’s packed with new features and improvements as well as some bug fixes.

New Features:

  • Image-handling features
    – Ability to automatically resize images added from device to preset constraints (which are editable)
    – Ability to automatically upload high-resolution version, as well as the resized version, of a new image added from the device
    – Ability to automatically add link to higher resolution version of image from the device
    – Ability to manually override any of the above when adding a new image from the device
  • Ability to set year, as well as month, date, hours and minutes, for when to publish a Post/Page
  • Ability to copy a Media Item’s URL to the clipboard (so that users can manually paste this)
  • Ability to resize the display font for the WYSIWYG editor
  • Ability to hide “AutoSave” notifications from being displayed – if “Show AutoSave Operation” setting switched off, this will stop the AutoSave alert from showing every so many seconds
  • Ability to hide Memory Warnings from being displayed – if “Show Memory Warnings” setting is switched off, this will stop the Memory Warnings from showing
Link to hi-res image in WordPress iPad app

You can now choose to upload and link to a high-res version of your image

WYSIWYG Editor Improvements and fixes:

  • Much improvement handling of HTML
  • “Next Page” icon added, to represent where a <!–nextpage–>markers appear in the WYSIWYG editor.
  • JavaScript icon added, to represent where JavaScript blocks appear in the WYSIWYG editor.
  • Formatting of JavaScript code blocks remains unchanged by the editor
  • Visually styled <pre> content when inside the WYSIWYG editor
  • Fixed issue with handling of <pre> tags in content
  • Ensured that <pre> tag is not the last element on the page, so that users can break out of the <pre> tag without having to go into HTML mode.
  • Added “Not yet supported!” alert box to all Media Types that are not yet editable via UI
  • When the device was rotated when in WYSIWYG mode, and with the Post Options drop down showing, the dropdown appears in the wrong place.
  • Disabled HSPACE and VSPACE for WordPress-hosted iframes, as WordPress do not support this
  • Added default image for YouTube search list icon (in case a thumbnail doesn’t get loaded!)
  • Show a movie icon for a movie using an iframe, rather than the iframe one
  • When previewing against Live, make better use of screen space by hiding unwanted elements
  • Ability to add links to a PDFs, Word Docs, Excel, Flash Movie
BlogPad Pro app for iPad and WordPress blogging

Improved date options for scheduling posts & pages

Other Improvements:

  • When app launched, if only 1 blog exists, that Blog is selected by default, showing the list of Posts for that Blog
  • Some graphics elements improved:
  • Some icons in higher resolutions, to improve clarity on retina displays
  • Flash icon added for Flash items in media library
  • Improved “remove” icon for tags
  • Re-arranged grouping of General Settings – create 3 sections: General App Settings, Blog-related Settings, Media-related Settings
  • Tweaked display of Server messages
  • Tweaked display of App Version messages
  • Improved handling of XMLRPC responses to handle situations when the returned XML was not valid XML (eg due to bugs with WordPress, or due to custom configuration of self-hosted blogs that could affect the XML output).
WordPress iPad app new features

You can now easily copy your image URL to clipboard by tapping the black & white copy icon, so that you can paste it into other applications or across separate blogs

Bugs resolved:

  • When “Restore Default Settings” was clicked in General Settings, this would hide any active Editing windows too by adding the “Getting Started” screen on top of the edit window.
  • If a Blog was deleted from the device whilst a Post from that blog was active in the editor, this would cause errors to appear after every autosave.
  • The app would sometimes crash after editing Post Settings
  • The app would sometimes crash after selecting an image from the Media Library
  • The app would sometimes crash when adding a self-hosted blog
  • When a Post that had been deleted from the WordPress Web Dashboard, and then the Post was updated from Live within the app, that Post would be removed from the device (correctly!), but then would still display a “Summary” of that post (it should not!).
  • When selecting a Featured Image in Post Settings, you were able to see other Media Types in the “From Media Library” section. This should only be images.
  • Fixed bug with version 3.4 or greater Blogs where an update to a Live Post/Page which had been deleted from Live wasn’t handle correctly. Now, the user is asked if they want to delete the Post/Page locally.
  • Fixed issue for iOS5 users where the app would crash if certain views (eg “Media Library -> Other”) were accessed
  • Fixed issue with WordPress-hosted blogs when scheduling a Post that is currently a draft and was initially created using the WordPress Web Dashboard. Before, this would publish the Post immediately.
New blog settings screen on BlogPad Pro

New settings added to hide autosave and memory notifications

We’ll be publishing more information on these new features and how they work over the next few days, and of course we’ll let you know as soon as the update is available!

How to publish your posts

How to publish or schedule your posts and pages using BlogPad Pro for WordPress

1. Once you’ve finished creating a new post and you’re ready to publish tap on ‘Post Options’ and then ‘Edit Settings’

bpp

2. Tap on ‘Publish Date’

Photo 20-12-2012 19 19 06

3.  If you want to publish your post straight away tap ‘Publish Immediately’.

If you prefer to schedule your post for a future time and date select, for example, the next day at 14.35.

Photo 20-12-2012 19 19 14

4. Then change the status to ‘Scheduled’.

You don’t need to do this if you select ‘Publish Immediately’ as the status is automatically changed to ‘Published’.

Photo 20-12-2012 19 19 19

5. When you’re happy and ready to publish just tap ‘Update’ and your post will publish (or schedule if that’s what you’ve set it to do!)

How to set default image size for your WordPress blog

In version 1.1 of BlogPad Pro for iPad we’ve added the option to set default image size.

It’s useful to know the maximum image size your blog theme can handle, otherwise images can end up being cropped or breaking your page layout.

So that you don’t have to manually set your image width each time you add a new image simply tap on the green settings button (bottom left).

Scroll down to the bottom of the ‘General Settings’ list and you will see some new options:

  • Default Image Width (pixels)
  • Default Image Height (pixels)
  • Autosize new images in Post/Page

blog settings screen

If your WordPress theme can only fit images with a maximum width of 550px, you can set Default Image Width to be 550 and the turn ‘Autosize new images’ in Post/Page to ‘On’.

Now whenever you add a new image from your camera roll it won’t be bigger than your theme can handle.

Note: The image re-sizes to fit the smaller of the width and height options, so if you’re only concerned about the maximum image width make sure you set your Default Image Height to something quite big (i.e. 900 px) or a portrait-oriented photo will be sized according to the maximum height setting instead.

You can upgrade your version of BlogPad Pro app for iPad by tapping here and selecting ‘Update’