Category Archives: software
Streamlining your learning with technology makes education work seamlessly from any of your devices whether it is an iPhone, iPod, iPad, or the computer. There are an overwhelming number of apps available for students to try as part of their work process.
Some resources that are valuable and worthwhile whether you are a freshman or working on your doctorate that we recommend are:
1. GoodReader for iPad: GoodReader is a mulit-tasking tool that supports large text and PDF files, syncs with remote servers, and works with .doc, .ppt, .xls, iWork, HTML and Safari webarchives, high resolution images, and audio and video. This app, also allows you the opportunity to annotate your documents or PDF’s, manage the files, transfer files, sync files and folders, zoom, do a text search, and do a quick hyperlink search in your PDF’s. Cost: $4.99
2. Tap-Dictionary: Works with the Safari web browser and gets dictionary definitions with the tap of a finger. This app will not make you switch applications to find the definition. It instantly finds the definition while you browse the web. Tap-dictionary will pronounce the word in 56 different languages. Cost: $.99
3. Remember the Milk: This utility app lets you take your to do list anywhere. There are a variety of versions for the iPod, iPhone,and iPad. The app also works with your online version that you sync with your calendars at rememberthemilk.com This app lets you add and complete tasks on the go, sync with your online version, organize priorities, due dates, search, receive reminders by email SMS and IM and much more. Cost: Free
4. Dropbox: Once you download this feature to your computer and purchase the app on your iPad or iPhone you have the ability to save and open or share documents, photos, or videos anywhere and at anytime. The best thing about the dropbox account is that you can save, share, or email anything from or to the dropbox account at any time. Cost: Free
5. Dropvox: Dropvox records audio and sends it directly to your dropbox account. It can be used to capture any audio (e.g. interviews, memos, or lectures, ets.) In addition, you can set the audio to start recording immediately when dropvox is launched or continue recording in the background. Cost: $1.99
Taken from Dr. Blog, PhD., this site shares information about apps for research with a focus on obtaining a PhD., but has many apps that are valid for everyone.
One of the most difficult things you can do academically is to get a PhD degree. There are a lot of tough tasks you have to complete in order to be awarded this high degree — including writing research papers. Indeed, anyone on a Ph.D. track knows that it is impossible to get through your schooling without writing several papers. And, of course, a Ph.D. dissertation is a research paper on a massive scale.
If you are looking for ways to improve your ability to write research papers, you are in luck. Technology makes it simple to get help with research papers. If you have an iPad, you can get help writing your research paper.” –from http://www.phddegree.org/
The link for this site is: http://www.phddegree.org/top-20-ipad-apps-to-help-you-write-a-research-paper.html
Until recently if you wanted your wordpress blog to have a different design for mobile devices you had to download a mobile plugin such as WPTouch. WordPress and OnSwipe have worked together to make all 18 million blogs on wordpress.com look more app like when viewed on the iPad. OnSwipe.com promises to make it easy for all publishers content appear more app like.
This new design reminds me of the FlipBoard app or Zite app available in the iTunes app store. Publishers who host their own blogs can go to OnSwipe.com and sign up for the beta.
Will this make reading blogs online more enjoyable? The iPad does provide a different reading experience than reading from your computer. And it looks like this most popular design for reading magazine type or content of short articles being adopted or at least getting the most buzz. But should that be the standard or default design or user experience for viewing Rss feed stories on the iPad?
With the advancement of electronic devices gaming on these devices are increasing. There are many different types of games on different platforms and devices. There are games aimed at the casual gamer to games for the very serious gamer. Games vary in the continuum of collaboration from no collaboration in single player games to very collaborative games such as MMOs (massive multiplayer online) games, i.e. World of Warcraft. Gamers across the world spend/waste/invest (depending on your view) billions of hours weekly playing in the virtual worlds trying to solve a mission, complete a task, or WIN! These gamers enjoy playing the games so much that they do not even realize many times how much time is passed. And gamers all have the same goal: to be successful at the task.
Recently on TED.com, Jane McGonigal (Twitter page), a game designer, recently presented a talk of how Gaming can make a better world. In it she talks about the emotions that gaming does and does NOT produce. She also wants to develop away to take the emotions real people have while seriously playing collaborative games and apply them to the real world. Her them seems to be: if the energy, emotion, and sticktuitiveness of gamers in the virtual world could be applied to real world, real life issues and events, then the world could be a better place. You can view the video below.
Now apply that to education. Ms. McGonigal points out in the video that the average gamer in a strong gaming culture will have logged 10,000 hours or more by the age of 21. She states that is approximately the amount of face time teachers will have with students from 5th grade till high school graduation in the United States. During that time frame adolescent gamers are spending almost the same amount of time playing video games. Imagine if educators could tap into that extra time.
The University of South Florida (USF) is trying to do just that. How can educators harness virtual worlds to educate the k-12 students? USF has created a website of lesson plans, resources, and case studies related to education and gaming platforms. You can find these resources on the USF website. http://www.coedu.usf.edu/we/. The project is called Worlds of Education and it focuses on using virtual worlds to enhance or distribute education. The two gaming environments primarily used in the project are the World of Warcraft game by Blizzard and SecondLife. The website also has a small but growing resource of lesson plans grouped by subject area.
Should gaming be used in education?
In Higher education, professors require their students to read various handouts from pertinent writers of the field of study. Many times professors provide their readings electronically as PDF documents. PDF documents require a reader such as Preview (Mac only) or Adobe’s Acrobat reader (PC or Mac) to be viewed. Many current browsers have a PDF plugin already installed, making PDF a good format to deliver electronic readings for all students to access the content.
Distance learners are many times business travelers or students who are constantly on the go. Many times they are accessing online classes through their laptops or smartphones. Many times the layout of PDFs do not lend themselves for easy reading on small portable devices such as the iPhone or blackberry. A website that I found the other day is http://www.epub2go.com. This site will allow the student to upload a PDF from their computer or paste in a link to a PDF that is online. The epub2go site will convet the PDF into an EPUB file. The website will either email you a link to download your EPUB or if you are on an iPhone, it will download the file to an app called Stanza. Stanza, which can be downloaded from lexcycle.com, is an e-book reader for the mac or pc with sharing capabilities to the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the Kindle.
According to http://www.openbook.org EPUB is a format for reflowable digital books. These books can be easily read and manipulated by many devices since it is basically an XML format.
Provided by lexcycle.com, Stanza can be downloaded on the mac, pc, iPhone or, iPod Touch. With Stanza, a student can change the font styling (face, color and size), background color and brightness to make reading the text on screen easier. Stanza app and epub2go.com allow the on the go student to convert online PDFs to ebooks all on the iPhone or iPod Touch with wi-fi connection; no computer needed. The student can now build their library of journal articles on their Apple mobile device to be read on the train, plane, taxi or other similar situations. Below are screenshots from my iPod Touch of the epub2go to stanza app conersion process
iWebMore allows you to include HTML code from Google Video, Flickr and other websites in your iWeb sites.
Today I have two utilities that will make using a dual boot computer much easier:
- Apple Mouse Utility: this was designed for using a one-button mouse under Windows. However, the cool thing about it is that it allows you to use the Control + Click shortcut you can use in Mac OS to right-click in XP. To use the utility, save it somewhere on your hard drive then place a shortcut to it in the Startup folder. This is much better than having to do a Shift + F10 each time you need to right-click.
- DoubleCommand: this extension allows you to remap the keys on a Windows keyboard while you’re in OS X. I used it to make my Windows key work as a Command key, and the Alt key to function as the Option key.
This is a great little utility that allows you to quickly change your sound input or output on the Mac. I’m always switching between my headphones and the built-in sound on my iMac. Using SoundSource makes the task much easier. The application sits in the menu bar, right next to the date, etc. A pulldown menu allows you to switch either the input or output with just one click (no need to open the System Preferences).
I usually write only about Mac applications, but since a lot of people have dual boot machines (or have two machines), I thought I would mention that one of my favorite Windows programs just got even better. Picasa (as close to iPhoto as you can get on the PC), has added a bunch of new features:
- Labels are now called Albums. They work the same way, but there is an album called screensaver that is automatically created for you. Any images you drag to that album will become part of your Windows screensaver. Nothing spectacular (the Mac has been able to do this for a while), but a nice addition to the program.
- You can create a movie with a bunch of photos and Picasa will use the Album title and description as the title of the movie. The movie includes the “Ken Burns effect” a la iMovie, but you don’t have as much control over it. I hope they continue to improve on this feature.
- You can now geotag images with Google Earth from within Picasa. I will be using this feature quite a bit to add location information to my images.
- I have not had a chance to test this out yet, but it looks like you can send images from your PC to a Tivo using Picasa. I have the Tivo Desktop installed already, so maybe I’ll give this a shot later this week.
I recently helped one of our students design a test for special education students to be delivered using iPods. The idea was inspired by the Louisa Muscatine iPod Project, even though my approach is a little bit different than theirs. Today, I finally had a chance to look at their site, where they had a short video explaining how they created their tests. I have to commend them on this creative use of the iPod in the classroom. As a visually impaired person, I am always looking for ways that this wonderful device can be used as an assistive technology.
I think their approach has two key advantages:
- It is very easy for teachers to create the test items. They can use Keynote or PowerPoint to create slides that are exported as images, and these slides can include other images such as simple graphs or tables. My approach, which uses the notes feature of the iPod, involves a little more work because each individual test item is an individual note on the ipod and these notes are linked through hyperlinks. I fear that as soon as you mention that hyperlinks and HTML are involved (even if it’s only two tags) this may turn off many teachers from wanting to implement this kind of technology. To get around this, you can provide a template for teachers to follow, as I did with the student I worked with.
- It is also very easy for the students to navigate through the questions once they are on the iPod. They just have to click on the back or forward button to navigate, whereas with my approach they must scroll to a link until it changes color to indicate that it is active, then click on the center button to move to the next note. For younger students, this may be too difficult.
For elementary school students, I would say that their approach is ideal. However, for older students I think my approach has some advantages:
- The notes feature has an advantage when it comes to text. You are not limited by what can be displayed on the screen at one time. For questions where students have to read a short passage (FCAT reading review, etc), the notes method would be ideal because you can scroll to see more content. The text is also more legible when you use notes. This is a limitation of the movie size created by Garageband, which will hopefully be addressed in the next release of the program.
- The use of hyperlinks gives you more flexibility in the types of exhibits you can use with the test items. You can easily link to video clips and images in the same test. When you create the test using the podcast track in Garageband, you can only include still images or video, but not both (unless you create the whole thing as a movie in iMovie and then import into Garageband–but now you’re introducing another program into the equation). This is another limitation that will hopefully be addressed in the next version of iLife.
- The use of “museum mode” allows you to lock down the iPod so that students are not distracted by other content on the iPod. They only have access to the content in the notes folder, which would be your test and any instructions. Obviously, you would not have any music or other content on the iPod before administering a test, but the temptation to click on other things (even if it’s just the settings) is too much of a distraction.
For older students I think the use of the notes is fine. They probably already have some experience with the iPod, so learning the navigation is probably not too much of a problem. And as I said before, once you create a test once, you can continue to reuse it as a template. All you have to do is substitute the text for the new items and link to new exhibits.
I can see combining the two approaches as well. That is, I would have the iPod set to notes mode to “lock it down”, then include a menu for each section of the test (using a .linx note) and use a podcast (created with Garageband) for each section. This would work well for a test where you only have text and the items are short.
As they say, there is “more than one way to skin a cat”. The way in which we both developed a successful iPod test demonstrates that there are several ways to get this done, each with advantages and disadvantages. The method you choose will depend on the tech savvy of the teachers and the needs of the audience as well as the requirements of the test.