For future readers, this is being written in the middle of the COVID pandemic. However, this still has a lot of relevance for anybody who is involved with distance and online learning at anytime, not just if like me you are stuck at home helping (or trying to) help your children with work that the school has sent home or provided online for them to do. This is not Homeschooling in its truest sense. We are not choosing what teach, how to teach, which materials to use and certainly not when, but homeschooling is a name that’s stuck and recognised by many parents in this current plight.

Schools by the way are on the most part set up with the expectation of face to face teaching in classrooms. The need to deliver the teaching materials they planned online is no mean feat particularly when they don’t have the funding and ready access to dedicated online teaching platforms or learning management systems (LMS) like Moodle or Blackboard. They have to work with what they can get hold of in a hurry and cheaply. Preferably free.

Like others my children like typing online, but find it slow, the effort of finding the right keys slowing down the thought/composition process. finding that your child prefers to handwrite their answers on a sheet of paper or the printed material and it needs to be handed in/submitted through whatever platform the school is using? Or perhaps has drawn a picture or diagram that needs to be uploaded and shared? Well there are some apps that I regularly use that I found make life a little easier.

PhotoSync app icon PhotoSync

Getting photos and vidoes you’ve taken from an iPhone to your computer or laptops hard drive certainly used to be a chore and requiring a lot of kerfuffle involving synchronising with Apple iTunes. Even then they were saved in the wrong format. The easiest solution was to email selected images to yourself from the phone.

PhotoSync allows you select and transfer, wirelessly, which photos you want to copy to your computer or transfer photos to the iphones photo folder from the computer. You can even set it up to automatically tranfer any new images whenever in WiFi range.

You buy the app and install the free computer client. Once you’ve given the app permission to access your phone’s (or tablet’s) photos, the app identifies which photos are new (to it). You can select all, only new ones or your own selection. However, it’s very useful in homeschooling for transferring the odd photo, video or batches of photos to your computer that need to uploaded. And doesn’t have a file size limit.

Scannable app icon Scannable

Scannable’s usefulness lies in being able to automatically recognise paper and take a photo, but automatically aligning the edges and correcting for lens distortion so the image is presented as though it had been scanned on a photocopier and saving as a PDF or PNG. It will also take a sequence of pages (if you have a multipage form) and save this a multipage PDF.

Fab when wanting to take copies of your children’s work and save this a single file to send to school. However, the added beauty of scannable is that it’s part of Evernote and gives you the option to save your pdf or png to Evernote if you have this installed.

Downside is that Scannable is optimised for documents, and not great at replicating images.

Microsoft Office Lens is another app which does this, but I like Scannable because of it’s tie in with Evernote and that means I will automatically be able to access any files created through Scannable on my computer.

Evernote app icon Evernote

Evernote is one of those generally useful apps. It does one job and it does it well. It allows you to make/take notes in various forms and automatically synchronises this with any other Evernote open with your account. It’s searchable and allows you append and view pdf’s, images and audio files to notes.

Evernote is mentioned here as it’s the easiest way I’ve found (that works for me anyway) of transferring to the computer one or multiple documents scanned via the phone camera.

It’s also great for making those notes when out and about such as clothing sizes particularly of growing children an being able to update that on the fly. All instances of the note then show the new information. What was that new shoe size again?

Okay there are plenty of other cloud services like Microsoft Office OneNote or Google Drive which do the same thing and in someways more powerful. I’ve just stuck with Evernote for it’s ease of use in comparison.