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Collaborate with paper stickies, then capture and edit on an iPad

November 10, 2014

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Sticky notes are inexpensive and super-low tech. Many of us use them for to-dos, chores, phone messages, or (gasp!) passwords. It’s not surprising that teachers and trainers have invented ways for groups to use them to collaborate. Below are some examples – and there are lots more on the Post-It website.

  1. Use Facilitated Ideation
  2. Set Priorities
  3. Create a Storyboard
  4. Participate in a Gallery Walk
  5. Park random ideas or questions in a Parking Lot
  6. Provide Minute Paper responses
  7. Build a Concept Map
  8. Generate Quiz Questions

Several apps offer a sticky note experience on mobile devices, but I was not a fan of this genre until I co-presented a workshop at the POD Conference last week. We asked participants to jot ideas down on colored notes and add them to large sheets of paper that were labelled with a category and taped to a wall. Then my colleague used his iPad to digitize the stickies onto an interactive virtual wall!

The Post-it Plus app lets you photograph blocks of notes, then divides them into individual images and places them on a “board” in groups that you can rename, move, or merge. It’s easy to drag stickies around within a group or move them from one group to another. And the obsessive among us will love the option to automatically align stickies in neat little rows and columns.

Connect your device (iOS 8 phone or tablet) to a projector and participants/students can see what you’re doing with the app. Rather than crowd around stickies on a wall, everyone in a large group can see the text when it’s projected on a screen. To give you and idea, I’m including a raw image and finished board from our workshop below.

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The software doesn’t (yet) try to convert your writing into text. It treats each card as an image, so the contents of your stickies can just as easily be drawings – opening all kinds of possibilities for creating visuals. Tip: enhance the visual appeal by assigning different colored stickies to specific purposes.

After manipulating to your heart’s content you can keep the board on your device, export it as a PDF, or send it to other apps, including Evernote and Dropbox. You can also export a native file that another user of Post-It Plus could open from a shared space in Box, Google Drive, etc.

Final words

This is only the first release of the software and I expect that improvements will follow. One feature I would like is the ability to add editable shapes or arrows to the board, allowing users to frame notes or show relationships. Versions for other platforms would be helpful. Finally, it would be very great if two or more users could collaborate in real time to build a board. In the meantime, this is a very useful app and I highly recommend it!

Update: Nov. 20, 2014

With version 1.1 you can create new stickies within the app and then draw or type on it. You can also add drawing or typing to an existing note. A 99-cent “Editor’s Pack” upgrade that lets you erase part of a note or change the paper color. Is it just me, or does charging for this upgrade feel like nickel-and-diming?

[tip of the hat to Michael Truong of Azusa Pacific U.]

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