Type: interactive whiteboard, screencasting, desktop control
Price: Free, $4.99 to Remove Logo from recorded videos.
Doceri is a combined screencasting, desktop control, and interactive whiteboard in one app. Basically, it does everything you need except grade your papers, take attendance, and go to staff meetings. Seriously though, I can’t say enough about this app because I love it so much, and because there is so much too it. So much I can’t possibly describe it all in a review. I’ll cover the basics here but really you should just go and download it and try it for youself.
If I could only have one app on my Ipad this would be the one I would choose without even thinking about it. It is teacher app number one without a contest! You don’t need a two-thousand dollar interactive whiteboard. All you need is a projector a computer (or apple TV) and Doceri.
At it’s soul Doceri is an interactive whiteboard that is feature rich and extremely intuitive. You can project your Doceri whiteboard projects through airplay using an apple TV, mac, or PC with mirroring software such as Reflector. Or even better, you can download the free Doceri Desktop application and project through that, as well as remote control your computer! More on that later.
The whiteboard has the ability to choose from about 30 pre installed backgrounds, a color background with any color you want, or your own custom image. I usually use a white color, black, or one of the 6 pre-installed graph backgrounds. The pens are fully customizable. You have six preset slots in which you can create a pen that is a fountain pen, felt tip, spray, marker, highlighter, paintbrush, line, rectangle, ellipse, or line with an arrow. There is also an eraser which I don’t use much, but it is there. You can then choose a thickness, opactiy, and spacing (for making dotted lines). It sounds like a lot of options but they are quick and easy to customize. I really like the felt pen with a width of about 3px with any of 3 colors at a time, a line a rectangle, and a highlighter.
The line tools and rectangle tools are easy to use and feature snapping (which can be disabled) that works great. Create a triangle in seconds, a rectangle or square in less than a second, a perfect circle or ellipse, trapezoids, whatever you want! even easily create 3d perspective drawings with ease. No other interactive whiteboard app or other kind of app can make geometric shapes look the way you want with no fuss the way Doceri can. It is also easy to make labels for sides and angles quickly. I can make a warm up activity in under 3 minutes that looks clean. I can set up an entire lecture in 5-15 minutes. In power point that takes me at least a half an hour.
The coolest thing about Doceri’s whiteboard is the timeline. It’s hard to explain without being able to touch it and see it in action but basically it records every single stroke you make in time. Every line you draw, word you write, everything. So what?? Let’s say you wrote out this great lesson only to discover that one word is spelled wrong, and worst case scenario it is written over your perfect equilateral triangle! Oh no! If you use the eraser on any normal whiteboard app, it will erase not only the word, but part of your lovely triangle underneath. No worries, back up the timeline, write the word with the correct spelling, delete the misspelled letters and advance it back forwards. Done. Not only that, but you can play your entire lesson at 10x speed so students don’t have to wait for you to write that long definition. Write it before class, back it up, and hit play when you are ready to present. Not only that but it also allows you to insert “stops.” This enables you to play your recorded lesson notes forward and stop automatically at a certain point, say after that definition, so that students can write it down, or so you can explain before you go on. Simply amazing! You really have to try it to understand how cool it is.
The whiteboard also lets you insert images, take a picture and insert it with the ipad camera, and create multiple pages all accessible through the timeline as well.
My favorite thing to do is hand my ipad to a student to work a problem. It’s a really cool way to get engagement from the students without having to call them up in front of the class to face the pressure of doing math in front of the peers. They can work problems on the screen without leaving their desk!
Doceri allows you not only to record the notes of your lesson in time on an interactive whiteboard, but also then to create videos! So you have your lesson all written out, a couple pages, definitions, examples all with stops in the timeline. Now hit record and start talking, Doceri records it all, your prerecorded notes, your voice, and anything else you write along the way. When you are done, you can share it through email, YouTube, Facebook, send it to your computer with Doceri desktop, or even open it in another app.
Most of the videos on this website and on my you tube channel were recorded with Doceri, and all of them would be except I found out about the app after I made about 6-7 with a computer screencasting software that was so hard to use I don’t even want to say the name of it. I am going to be re-recoding them with Doceri because the video quality of Doceri is much better!
You can also save your recordings, combine one recording with another, or pause in the middle of your recording and then go back to it. With the paid version you can even have your own custom logo on the recording if you choose.
If you thought all that was cool wait until you read this. If you download Doceri Desktop on you mac or PC, not only can you project through your computer but you can remote control your computer from anywhere in the room (or even out of the room) through wifi. Just like apps such as Log-Me-In and Splashtop you can remote control your computer. In fact, I prefer Doceri’s remote control experience to any of the high cost desktop control apps because if you use your middle finger as the mouse you can left click with your index finger and right click with your ring finger! You have to experience it but it is so easy to left click and right click and navigate.
Not only that but Doceri allows you to annotate over your desktop. What it really does it takes a screenshot of you computer to use as a background, but who cares? It feels like you are writing on top of you desktop. Have a website you would like to highlight? have a power point you would like to annotate over? want to annotate over Photoshop or Word? you can do it! annotate over anything you can bring up on your computer even this review! Annotate over a you tube video, well you have to pause the video, but it works!
Another great feature is multiple monitor support. I have my projector set up as a second monitor so I can have students grades or attendance open on my main screen and display things for the class on the other one so I can actually switch between them and control either one! It’s great for looking up grades or taking attendance while students are taking notes or doing a problem from the screen.
To truly unleash Doceri you can actually record video while you are remote controlling!!! You could go on Wolfram Demonstrations and animate a triangle theorem or something and record it for your students to watch! You could then annotate over it and go back to your notes, or go to some other web page and draw on it. Many of my videos are actually me remote controlling PowerPoint on my computer from Doceri and annotating over it at the same time as I’m recording the video. It’s almost too much for the brain to handle but it works super intuitively and even the most technologically challenged individual can get the hang of it. In fact my 4-year-old is playing with it right now!
Doceri Desktop is the computer side of Doceri. It is free to download and use with no restrictions other than the Doceri Logo. the logo is in the lower right hand corner and only once in a while does it get in the way. I went an entire semester with it on there, no problem. I’m going to pay to remove it for next semester though. If you want to remove the logo or put a custom logo in it’s place the cost is $30. Consider however, that for free you can have a system that is more effective and robust that a thousand dollar interactive whiteboard, and to remove all logos the total is a whopping $35. No big deal.
Doceri Desktop has a couple other features that are really cool. First of all since ipads have limited storage Doceri desktop allows you to seamlessly transfer your projects and recordings to your computer and access them from your computer or from your ipad. In theory you could never store a single video or project on your ipad if you wanted to. I usually store everything on my ipad and then dump it to my computer through Doceri Desktop once in a while to save space. It’s easy.
Doceri Desktop also allows helps you connect to your computer. When Doceri desktop starts up it displays a QR code that you can scan from within the app and it automatically connects to your ipad. This is helpful especially if you have an unstable wifi. I’ve never had to use this feature but I have seen it in action and it is worth mentioning because connection issues are a common problem with desktop control apps. With Doceri Desktop connecting to your computer is seriously idiot-proof.
Even though this seems like a pretty thorough review of all the features of this amazing app, there is still so much more. The developers thought of everything! There are a host of little features that make using Doceri a pleasure. A lot of apps have at least one feature or two that is frustrating or doesn’t work quite right, but Doceri literally does not have any of these quirks. I use Doceri all day, every day in my classroom and if I didn’t have an ipad I would go out and buy one just so I could use Doceri. It is as essential to my teaching as desks, pencils, and paper. A must have!