Tuesday, June 17, 2014

iPad Hieroglyphics

Over the past few years I have facilitated a number of iPad workshops with teachers from across the country.  One observation that I have made is that when anyone (not just teachers) are new to iPads (or any device), they have a difficult time deciphering the meaning of the icons that appear consistently throughout apps.  While experienced users intuitively recognize the purpose of these icons, newer users often don't realize the messages that these icons are providing when they appear within an app.

In preparing for a recent iPad workshop, I was discussing the idea with Shawn McCusker (@shawnmccusker) and as the end of the day, I noticed that he had drawn these images on the chalk board as a reminder to his participants.

iPad Hieroglyphics from Shawn McCusker's EdTechTeacher iPad workshop in Chicago.

We quickly described the images as iPad Hieroglyphics, easily deciphered by the initiated and difficult to interpret by those new to the platform.  In an effort to make the idea a bit more permanent, I have created a ThingLink below that explains each icon and provides a few examples of how it is used in various applications.  My hope is that the image below can provide a base foundation for newer iPad users to understand how to navigate within and between applications.


  1. simplistic but effective use of thinglink...finally someone else is using it!

  2. Great idea! Needed this on Monday. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Love this and will share with teachers and students in a few weeks. I have dubbed the export icon the "Sharrow" - helps students remember what it does!