Friday, April 29, 2011

Our Choice App

Regardless of where you fall on the "climate change is happening" to "I don't believe in science" spectrum, the app "Our Choice" written by Al Gore and developed by Push Pop Press that was released yesterday is really impressive.  If you're feeling flush with cash and are willing to drop $5, I recommend checking this "textbook" out. I imagine that this may mark the beginning of the future of digital textbooks, with seamlessly integrated audio and video and (the part I'm most excited about) lots of potential for making textbooks a more interactive and less passive experience. I've already thought of a number of additional features that could be implemented, but it's an impressive start.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is Social Media Ruining Students?

Wouldn't say there's anything earth shattering here and these aren't scientific studies, but some interesting questions are raised....

Is Social Media Ruining Students?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nook Color - an eReader turned into a tablet computer

Depending on a school's established vision for educational technology, learning goals, and priorities, the Nook Color at $249 could be a fantastic companion learning computer for some/all students. As reported in a recent article at Mashable, the Nook Color now supports Flash, software app installation, and more. At less than a pound, the Nook color weighs less than the iPad 2.

So in addition to functioning as an eReader, Nook Color tablets are able to browse the web, check email, and install apps--all of this at a fraction of the cost of iPad.

~submitted by Matt

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Evernote for iPad

I am an avid bookmarker and have long been using "Delicious" on my laptop.  I heard about "Evernote" and that it also has an app for IPad so I downloaded it (it is free) onto my laptop and IPad.  So far, I have mainly been using it on my laptop but then it automatically synchs with the IPad version.  Besides bookmarking websites, "Evernote" also has a clipping service for "clipping out" articles from online periodicals.  As far as I can see, "Evernote" on the IPad does not have this clipping service so I have downloaded "Instapaper" for that purpose.  I am still getting the hang of "Instapaper" and haven't successfully "clipped" on the IPad.  Like many of my fellow user group members, I am finding that the IPad is absolutely not a substitute for the laptop.  I think the challenge is to figure out those applications that are best suited for the tablet format.  For some, it is the drawing or the music apps.  In general, the plurality of the apps that I have been using on the IPad come under the heading "Productivity" so I think I will continue to explore how the portability of the IPad will overcome what it lacks in terms of function.

Margaret Lane

Monday, April 11, 2011

iPad as a travel device

I recently took an international trip with my iPad in order to evaluate it as my sole travel device. On the day of departure, however, I had a lot of anxiety about only taking my iPad and decided to bring my laptop along. I am so glad I brought my laptop because I realized that the iPad has a lot of shortcomings as a "work" and travel device. First off, typing on the iPad is a nightmare. I didn't want to lug the wireless keyboard as well, so I ended up using the device to type. This was a real pain, as my wrists really hurt from typing.

Another shortcoming is that the iPad doesn't have a built in world clock like the iPhone. I downloaded and app called "Night Stand HD" however this didn't have the features I wanted and needed an internet connection to detect location.

I did find some good uses for the iPad as a travel device. As a mobile eReader, I found the portability of the iPad supreme. I could take it everywhere and have good reading material. The battery life is great, and I found I didn't need to recharge it much. I used the "Sundry Notes" app to jot travel notes and addresses on the fly. And for keeping up to date on news and current events, it was very easy to stay in touch with the iPad.

A very useful app when in French speaking countries was "iTranslate". This little app can translate words and phrases in about 50 languages. When we were in very remote areas of Reunion Island, I found this app useful in communicating simple phrases like "There's a poisonous spider in our room!" and "Where is the bus stop?"

I still feel quite tethered to my laptop and am not sure if I could part with it for the iPad. But I do feel the iPad does have a niche in the world of portable devices. I guess I am still personally trying to find that place for my iPad.

by: Anu

Sunday, April 10, 2011

another reason to hold off on iPads

Given how quickly things are changing in the world of readers, again I assert that iPads are a luxury.  Listen to this story:

by Ryanne

iPad great for little ones

Although I have come to the conclusion that iPads are still, for the most part, a luxury item not worth recommending for our students, I do think that the iPad is an amazing tool for toddlers and preschoolers.  There are a number of apps out there that allow young children to have tactile experiences with letters and numbers, to listen to stories in an interactive and entertaining manner, and to build skills like pattern recognition.  I can easily see iPads becoming a staple in early education classrooms.

If we decide to create a class set for our girls, we need to think about using the iPads differently than we have been as individuals.  Instead, the iPads would become tailored to the objectives of the teachers.  I think there is great potential long term, but for now, using iPads over laptops would feel like a cumbersome step backwards.

by Ryanne

Friday, April 8, 2011

An Overview of My Own iPad Experience

I wrote this up for Matt a few weeks ago when he presented to academic council, but thought these points would be worth sharing with everyone (and getting push back if people disagree).

My thoughts on having an iPad this year...

1.  It's fun to play with.  Not surprisingly, the interface is sleek, clean, and easy to use. That said, I wouldn't want these facts to obscure the real question: will this help students learn more than spending $600 per student on something else? If not, will a class set help students learn more than spending $600x16 on something else?

2. This year I found having students using different platforms and different software suites to be somewhat challenging. If the ipad becomes yet another option for students, I worry that this will create an even greater challenge (for example, not a single dynamic geometry software program will run on the iPad yet, the advantage of the iPad being instant on is diminished if half the class still has laptops, etc).

3. I know there has been talk about getting class sets.  I think the ipad is a very personal devise.  One of my primary professional uses is as a tool to read blogs (I use MobileRSS), read personalized magazines (Zite, Flipboard, Pulse), and organize and store relevant documents, websites, and videos (ReaditLater, Evernote, InstaPaper, GoodReader, DropBox, & SugarSync).  Many of these apps are either useless or lose much of their appeal if I were sharing an Ipad with others.

4. In some ways, the iPad is a fantastic organizational tool. On the other hand, keeping organized between mediums is a challenge.  Are we just adding yet another medium (iPad, laptop, home desktop, notebook, binder, etc)?

4. I'm not very good at freehand drawing.  Even short little margin notes are difficult for me to read.  I might get better at this, but I personally would find a fine-tuned stylus to be helpful.  Along these lines, this probably is not an appropriate tool to take notes in math classes for almost every kid (not that a personal computer is any better).

5. From a tech standpoint, I worry (although this is totally unsubstantiated) that troubleshooting iPads if things go wrong will be more difficult than troubleshooting pc's/macs.  You just don't have the same administrative access.

6. As an additional expense for kids, I am curious how many 5th graders already have a laptop and how many already have an iPad. My guess is many have laptops (meaning no required additional expense) and few have iPads. Something to consider.

7. Yikes.  All these sound so negative...on a plus side: the ipad takes much less time to boot, has a much longer battery life, and takes up much less room on a desk. Furthermore, there is a strong and growing library of apps that are evolving at a much faster rate than traditional software. They're also super cool (which I actually see as a pro and con.  On the one hand, I have no problem taking advantage of mediums that get kids excited.  On the other hand, if I need a dog and pony show maybe I need to be rethinking the content).


My iPad is my book?

I said something about reading on the iPad in my post on traveling, but I have been thinking a good deal about how I read, and how I use the iPad as a reading tool. I have found myself thinking of my iPad as a book, that is, as the particular book I am reading. I have books on iBooks and on Kindle for iPad, and I like the kindle app better, it seems to turn pages, highlight, and insert notes more easily for me.

Things I love: having so many books with me at the same time, not adding more weight to my bag when I get a new book, and being able to highlight and take notes, and jump back to those notes quickly.

Things I don't love: not being able to just lend a book to someone else when I am done.

What surprised me, however, was how much I still use a kindle book like a paper book when I am doing research and writing. I want to have the book open in front of me, so I found myself writing on a different tool, my laptop or a pad of paper, as I reflected on the book I read on my iPad. I suspect with time I might change that, and flip back and forth between the book and a note taking app, but right now that does not come naturally, I want the book open in front of me.

I do think the form factor of the iPad really makes a difference for electronic books. I have kindle for Mac on my laptop and I  almost never use it.

- Heather Pang
Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Review: Comic Strip

Loving Comic Life, I was looking for an iPad version. What I found works very well, and I continue to wonder why the web based ones are not this good. It should be easy. It took me just a few minutes to figure out the app and make this comic.

I can imagine plenty of good uses for this tool, since we already use Comic life, but most of those projects require one comic making computer for every pair of students, so an iPad is one option, but not the only option.

Comic Strip price: $0.99

- Heather Pang
Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Can an iPad replace a laptop?

This is one of the many iPad-related questions I've heard around these parts and in online communities over the past several months. Without question, the iPad is a compelling device that is changing the paradigm of computing. I've enjoyed using the iPad as a platform to design, create and experiment. However, when I hear a question like, "How can I use an iPad and [insert app here] in my classroom?" or, "Can an iPad replace a laptop?" I wonder if we are destined to repeat many of the same 'cart before the horse' technology implementations that schools have been so famous for over the past two decades.

Think of the failures of Smart Board installations as a case in point. Often times IWBs were simply dumped in schools with very little thought given to learning goals/outcomes and priorities. In many cases, they go largely unused, serving as really expensive pull down screens and computer input devices. Are we destined to repeat the same mistakes with iPads? Or will we do the hard work of asking the prerequisite questions necessary to creating a fantastic learning environment for youth?

For me, the established learning goals and priorities of the school community should always drive the acquisition of technology tools. Before asking questions about iPads or any other technologies, it would be my hope that the school community takes time to develop and articulate the learning goals that they would like to achieve. After this process, the goals would then be prioritized into a plan for implementation.

Here are just a few examples of learning goals that I have for youth:

-foster cultural competencies and understandings.
-develop opportunities for youth to publish for varied audiences.
-create multimedia narratives as individuals and in teams. Publish these narratives for varied audiences.
-crunch, analyze and interpret complex piles of data..
-find, sort, filter and interrogate information from multiple locations and sources.
-integrate reflective learning across the curriculum as a way to develop meta-cognition.

Only after the hard work of setting goals, objectives and priorities is done should we move to the next step: selecting technologies that assist in supporting this vision for learning.

Anything else is cart before the horse.