The First App To Buy After Upgrading to iOS 8

When the email came in, I actually did a little happy dance. Forgive me for being excited, but it’s a big moment for iPad and iPhone users.

Why? There are lots of great things about iOS 8, but one that can’t be overemphasized is support for custom 3rd-party keyboards, which means TextExpander Touch 3 now works in every app on your iPad.

What does that mean? It means you can set up custom abbreviations to cut your typing time by 90% or more. So instead of typing:
Sincerely,
Justin Baeder
Director, The Principal Center
1-800-861-5172

I can type “sjp” and TextExpander does the rest.

Instead of typing Let me know if I can be of assistance at any time I can type “lmka” and I’m done.

TextExpander Touch 3 gives you a custom 3rd-party keyboard that works just like the Emoji or foreign-language keyboards:
TextExpander Keyboard

I’ve been a huge fan of TextExpander for years; on the Mac, it saves me literally days of work every year (probably more days than I’ve been on vacation).

But on the iPad, TextExpander has been hamstrung by limitations in iOS—it hasn’t worked in any but a small handful of specially designed apps, like the mighty Drafts app.

No longer. TextExpander Touch 3 works in every app on your iPad and iPhone. Type an abbreviation you’ve set up in the app, and in any app, it’ll expand into the full phrase. You can even design fill-in forms (more on this soon).

To use TextExpander Touch 3, you’ll need iOS 8,which is now available for your iPhone (4S or newer) and iPad (2 or higher). After you free up enough space to download it, go to Settings » General » Software Update to install iOS 8 (it will take a while).

Then, go to the App Store and grab TextExpander 3 for $4.99.

Note that this is a new purchase—if you’ve used TextExpander Touch (versions 1 or 2) in the past, you’ll still have to buy the new version. You’ll earn your five bucks back by the end of the day in increased productivity, though.

Follow the directions in the app to activate it. Briefly:

  • After downloading and opening in the app, you’ll need to go to:
  • Settings » General » Keyboard » Keyboards » Add New Keyboard » 3rd-Party Keyboards » TextExpander Touch.
  • Add it, then select it and enable “allow full access.”

Start adding shortcuts in TextExpander, and you can use the you’re off and running.

Troubleshooting

If your keyboard appears in the middle of the screen, tap & hold the lower-right keyboard button, then select Dock.

If the keyboard appears blank, go back to Settings » General » Keyboard » Keyboards » TextExpander » Allow Full access

More tips from the developer

Why This Matters for High-Performance Instructional Leadership

When you can write an entire sentence with just a few taps, using TextExpander abbreviations, you can deal with more situations on the spot, so there’s less follow-up to handle later.

If you need to write something down to handle later, you can do so much more quickly, and get back to the task at hand.

When you have an idea, you can capture it quickly, instead of letting it slip away.

And most importantly, you can focus on the people around you more of the time, instead of spending that time tapping away on your iPad—while still being incredibly productive.

Additional Notes

UPDATE: After using TextExpander Touch 3 for a few days, I’ve noticed that it does what it’s supposed to do, but it’s not as self-correcting as the built-in iOS keyboard that we’re all used to. If you hit the wrong key, usually your iPad will know what you meant and adjust…even before Autocorrect gets involved. This is part of the design of the onscreen keyboard.

Unfortunately, TextExpander Touch 3 doesn’t have this, so it’s much harder to type on. I still recommend it, but you may want to use the default keyboard most of the time, then tap the globe icon to switch to the TextExpander keyboard when using a shortcut.

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How To Use Your iPad Without Being Antisocial

Use Your iPad (but don’t be antisocial)

Do I want to be a productive weirdo, or actually pay attention to the people around me?

It’s not a fun dilemma, yet it’s probably one you face.

If you’re among the majority of school leaders who have iPads, you probably hoped the device would make a difference in your productivity throughout the day.

More often than not, though, you probably find yourself leaving your iPad in the office, under your arm, or even at home, because it’s just a little too awkward to use the iPad in the intensely interpersonal work of school leadership. It gets in the way during

  • Passing conversations in the hallway
  • Postconferences with teachers
  • Check-ins with the secretary
  • Meetings with concerned parents

In all of these settings, it may be that the iPad is better than a laptop or desktop computer. You can get work done (or at least write down tasks and notes) even if you aren’t at your desk, so you don’t have to rely on paper, trek back to the office, or—worst of all—try to remember later.

A leader’s work happens everywhere, and if the iPad supports that, terrific.

Yet it’s clunky to type with one hand or your thumbs while walking around, and it’s socially awkward to do so while talking to other people.

So too often, we fail to take advantage of our tools.

The Key

Here’s the key: Use your iPad after the conversation, when everything is still in your short-term memory.

Take a second to update your notes, record a to-do, schedule something on your calendar—whatever needs to be done—after the other person has walked away.

To speed this up, use one or both of these built-in features:

  • Text-expansion shortcuts, under Settings » General » Keyboard » Shortcuts, so you can type just a few letters (like “fuw”) and have that expanded into a longer phrase (“follow up with”)
  • Siri dictation, using the mic key next to the keyboard, if you’re on an iPad 3 or newer

There you have it—the work gets done, the social interaction isn’t harmed, and your iPad gets put to good use.

What tips do you have for using your iPad in ways that are effective, but less socially awkward?

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Why Behavior Trumps Attitude

We’ve always known the importance of “getting the right people on the bus,” to borrow a phrase from Jim Collins. As leaders, we each have in mind a picture of the “right” kind of person for our school—the right attitude, the right work ethic, the right interest in collaborating, the right coachable mindset, the right […]

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Go and See: Classroom Walkthroughs as Genchi Genbutsu

As leaders, we need to spend our time where the work is done. We need to understand that work deeply, so we can provide the kind of leadership the organization needs. As instructional leaders, that means we need to be in classrooms. At Toyota, this concept is called Genchi Genbutsu, which conveys the idea of […]

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Is A Paperless Office Possible?

The dream of having a paperless office has been around for decades, yet it seems that as each year passes, we end up with more paper, not less. Case in point: when my district went to an all-online job application system, instead of getting 250 hardcopy pages in the mail, I’d have to print 500 […]

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Real Firefighting: Leadership as Creative and Reactive Work

I love being part of the profession of school administration, but the word “administrator” is a little too paper-pusher-ey for my tastes. That’s why, like many people, I prefer the term “school leader.” Leadership is inherently creative work. We’re not just pushing the buttons that someone else in our bureaucracy told us to push. We’re […]

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Should You Turn This Year’s Regrets Into Next Year’s Agenda?

One of the most critical starting points for high-performance instructional leadership is having a focused leadership agenda. If you don’t have a well-defined sense of what you’re focused on, everything that you’re not focused on will gradually creep in. The principalship—and the work of schools in general—is subject to the Ratchet Effect: once the “ratchet” […]

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How (Not) To Differentiate Your Leadership with Staff

As leaders, we achieve most of our results indirectly. I don’t teach reading or math or art; I ensure that reading and math and art are taught well. We work through relationships and systems to turn our daily work into results for students. But that impact isn’t distributed evenly. Teachers are not mere conduits for […]

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The $10 Experiment for Giving Something Up

Scope creep. “Other duties as assigned.” Coverage. Little tasks and duties get added to our calendars, and over time, this can take up quite a bit of a principal’s week. We’re all team players and don’t want to ask our staff to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves…but sometimes we end up spending our time […]

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80/20 Hacking: The Power of Process

We do much of what we do as school leaders simply because it’s expected. Not because we’ve carefully decided exactly how to spend our time, or carefully considered what leadership actions will have the greatest impact, but simply because we’re supposed to. As much as we might want to be redesign our roles from scratch, […]

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Likely Success

Part 5 in a series by Steve Peha (see parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) In our last piece, we talked about that all-important initial group of change agents in our schools: Willing Starters. Without them, nothing starts (at least not willingly). But without the next group, the Likely Followers, nothing continues. Likely Followers may […]

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You may have started your hiring process months ago, even in January or February. You may have filled all the vacant positions. But then the “Can we talk?” meetings start. “I’ve decided that it’s time to retire.” “My family is moving to another state.” “I decided to take another position.” And you have an unexpected […]

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Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

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5 Ways to Ship Great Work

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Shipping Great Work

The late Steve Jobs and the companies he founded are known for inventing countless great technologies. Great ideas are important, but they’re not the final determinant of achievement. Most inventors are remembered as tinkerers, not history-makers. Jobs knew the difference, which he summed up like this: All the creative genius in the world isn’t worth […]

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