Accessibility Settings in IOS 5


Get ready for IOS 6 by reviewing what is already available for providing accessibility for your students with special needs in IOS 5

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5 Ideas for using iBooks Author and iBooks 2


Introduction

When the original iPad first arrived there was buzz about how this device could change education. Schools began adopting iPad programs.  The iPad is an informational consumption device through which a learner can consume massive amounts of information through their ear and eye channels.  Learners could even customize the information slightly, a tenet of UDL.  If a learner needed larger text they could pinch and zoom with their hands and of course turn up or down any audio.  The iPad is very portable when compared to laptops and is really easy to use; which makes it a great tool to use with younger children or other learners who may be uncomfortable using a computer.  PDF readers became big apps in higher education and finding the next big content specific app became the big thing in elementary and secondary education as evident by the numerous app rating and apps for education sites.  It was not easy for educators to create their own relevant content for their classroom.  Most of the subject specific apps available were not adaptable to specific classroom content needs.  Now with iBooks Author educators can create content that is specific to their classroom needs.  Students now also have an exciting way to show off some of their creative genius on one of the most popular devices to date.

Student Produced Lessons

Female child creating a book on a silver iMac

The big buzz right now about Apple’s new iBooks 2 and iBooks Author app is the interactivity textbook publishers can bring to the classroom.  While that may be fine and dandy, imagine how you can unlock and display the creativity of students and teachers with this tool.  With iBooks Author being a free download, students and teachers now have the ability to produce high quality self-contained content for the iPad without having to know a lot about programming.  Here is one way I can see this being used with students:  During the late 90’s and early 2000’s some teachers used webquests as a tool to teach a topic a topic to their students by having the students research online resources that have been provided to them from their teacher.  The webquests usually ends in the students creating a report, video, or presentation.  Now with iBooks Author students can take their video, report, and presentation and create a beautifully crafted lesson on any topic while honing their digital content creation skills.  iBooks Author’s easy to use interface allows students to focus more on the content they are learning and creating and less on learning a program to create content that has a steep learning curve.

iBooks Author Book on iMac and iPad

Inclusive Design Awareness

What is really great about iBooks Author is the upfront approach to accessibility.  Not only does supplying the accessibility options help individuals who are born with or have developed certain disabilities, it also helps individuals as they age whose sensory functions may be beginning to fade.  As educators, we can help change the idea of the “burden” to provide accessible options by showing students (future generations) how easy it actually is to provide other means of accessing information when you think about including everyone from the outset.   With iBooks Author students and teachers can easily create content that takes advantage of the iPad’s accessibility features.

iBooks Author Accessiblity options are included in the inspector window.

Digital Storytelling Enhancement

Digital Storytelling has been around for a while now in classroom education.  Many times restricting students to one format, not because of an  inability to create multiple types of media, but because of the lack of one easy presentation of multiple media.   Just as a good storyteller makes you feel as if you are there with their voice and mannerisms, iBooks author allows students to create a world in a book and unveil their imaginations to others.

Supplement your classroom Teaching

Choose from various templates Apple provides for iBooks Author

Teachers can create an iBook of course materials that can easily be updated and distributed to students.   While this can be done a myriad of ways, imagine if you are the teacher of a face-to-face classroom of students who regularly miss class due to reasons necessary to their role in life (i.e. student-athletes, other students who travel for the university such as chorales or student government, etc.).  You could place much of the classroom materials in an iBook that is uploaded to your iTunes U collection.  Students would need the Internet once to download the book or chapter for the week.  Students could download the lesson before boarding a bus or plane where they would no longer have Internet connection most likely yet still be able to review and study the content for class.  The iBook is more than just a PDF that a student could download.  The iBook is better than having students download multiple videos and PDFs and then having to remember to read and watch everything.  The iBook acts as a guide through out the course materials for the week.  Students will have a  table of contents in front of them showing them everything they have to review for the week.  With iBooks you can even provide a self-check section to help students realize what information is seeking in and what information they still need to review.

Easily Drag and drop content from Pages or Microsoft word into iBooks Author

Final Project Portfolio

In some classrooms students are required to put together a final portfolio project.  In an interactive media class where students would learn about creating graphics, photography, video creation, and audio editing, iBooks author provides an easy packaging system for students to quickly drag and drop their projects from that semester into a neat, clean and fun iBook that can be easily presented on their iPad.

Hands touching iPad displaying science book made in iBooks Author

While it is great that Apple and textbook publishers are now able to offer interactive textbooks on the iPad (similar apps on the iPad have been attempting this: Kno and Inkling apps), it is even more exciting that now students and teachers have a very easy to use multimedia publishing tool to create content for the iPad.  Maybe one day creating high quality multimedia content for tablet devices will be as universal and as easy as word processing.

iPhone 4s Camera and VoiceOver together


In this video Luis shows off using the iPhone 4s VoiceOver feature and Camera App together.  Being able to use VoiceOver with the Camera app can aid an individual with a visual impairment take pictures without cutting off the subjects head.  This is because face recognition feature of the camera app comes into play allowing VoiceOver to announce how many faces are in the shot.  It also tells the photographer where in the frame the faces are located (I.E. “Top Left”, “One Face”…etc..).

Using Siri with VoiceOver


We just recently met with Luis of luisperezonline.com who showed us a new tip for using Siri with VoiceOver.  Luis will have a much more detailed description posted on his website.

Being able to use VoiceOver and Siri together is an awesome feature.  If you have ever tried to type using VoiceOver you know how tedious and time consuming creating a short text message can be.  Now on the iPhone 4S, you can tap the microphone icon in the keyboard, tap your screen once with one finger to begin dictating to Siri. Double-tap the screen with two fingers to stop dictating to Siri and have your text appear in a message or search box.

Let me know any other cool features with Siri or iOS 5 that you have discovered.

Accessibility Features of Apple’s iOS 5


Apple Accessibility LogoMany people are buzzing about the new iPhone and its new OS called iOS 5. iOS 5 provides iDevices with 200+ new features. Many of the new features are related to accessibility which can benefit users with various physical impairments. Here is a great post from one of our friends by Apple Distinguished Educator, Luis Perez at http://luisperezonline.com/2011/10/19/overview-of-new-accessibility-features-in-ios-5/. Luis points out how features not listed under Accessibility in iOS 5 can be used in the classroom with students.

Let us know what you think of these new features!

Two free apps to turn your iPad into an interactive Smartboard


At the iteach lounge at the University of South Florida, we are always looking for easy to use apps for iPads that allow teachers to quickly and easily create educational content. Two apps we have recently compared are ScreenChomp by TechSmith and ShowMe app by Easel. Both are essentially doodling apps that allow the student/teacher to record their voice. After recording your drawing and voice the individual to upload their to the “cloud”. Each app has its own cloud type storage service that will generate a link to be shared with other students, teachers family and friends. ShowMe requires the individual to create an account prior to being able to upload the video to the cloud.

ScreenChomp has a few more sharing options by harnessing the Facebook and Twitter networks from within the app as well as providing in app email and open in Safari app support.

ScreenChomp also does not require a login to allow students or teachers to begin making videos and sharing them online. This also means your videos are open to the public provided they have the link. ShowMe app provides a “private” upload, but this just means the video is not listed in it’s website directory. I will say that once you are on showmeapp.com, you can share that link to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, email, and webpage embed.

Another feature of Screenchomp is that it allows you to download the video as a MPEG-4 file. Now you can add this to your iTunes, YouTube.com, or other podcasting service.

Both of these apps could be used by students or teachers to explain certain visual concepts or tasks such as math or science equations. Students can also use these apps for think aloud exercises. Both apps also allow the individual to add a picture from their photo library, allowing one to annotate over a picture or diagram.

Have you used these apps? What do you think of these apps or other interactive whiteboard apps for tablet pcs (iPad, zoom, tab, etc.) in education?

iPad Apps for Researching, Organizing, and Writing Papers


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

USF, iPad and the Cloud


The college of education at the University of South Florida recently launched an initiative to advance pre-service teachers knowledge of emerging technologies in the classroom. The iteach initiative recently focusing on Apple products, has provided it’s students with workshops from Apple certified educators focusing on multimedia creation and optimizing lessons for consumption on the iPad. Workshops provided hands on experience using Apple’s iLife suite and Dashcode as well as other educational technologies. At the university level USF has made decisions to benefit the students as a whole but also benefits students who are iPad users or are thinking of buying an iPad.

One of these changes that USF IT has made is providing students access to an apps portal. Now students can access a wide array of popular programs such as Adobe CS5 Master Collection, Atlas T.I., Maya 2010, Mathimatica 7 and many others from any computer with an Internet connection. The university uses a citrix system that students can connect to by pointing their web browser to apps.usf.edu.

Directions to connect to the Apps Portal

A benefit of using the apps portal, besides access to expensive software, students can begin working on projects on a machine on campus and still access their same project at home on their personal machines. Imagine you begin building a website for your communications class while on a campus machine and being able to finish your project at home. Or say you begin qualitative analysis project in Atlas T.I., which you couldn’t afford to buy, you can finish it anywhere anytime you are connected to the apps portal.

All of the applications available on the USF Apps Portal can also be accessed on the students iPad. Click the link below to configure your iPad to use the apps portal.

How to connect your iPad to the USF Portal

Some applications do not lend themselves to working nicely on the iPad. You may not want to create complex vector graphics in Adobe Illustrator thru the portal, but you can easily edit your documents, write programs, or analyze data on the iPad.

The apps portal is essentially just allowing students the ability to screen share to a server to access the applications. You will want to have a reliable and fast Internet connection to use the portal. The university provides storage space for students to save their files on the server. Students can have up to 4GB of storage space to save their files and create websites. USF has also been a Google University for the past few years. Now that Google has opened up Google Docs to editing on the iPad, this also provides students another avenue to create and share content on their iPad.

WordPress and OnSwipe change the way you view blogs on your iPad


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.

20110324-115157.jpg

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?

Managing Group Projects Online with Google Docs and ManyMoon.com


Many  times in academia students are asked to work in groups to finish an assignment such as a research paper, video, or other project. While  many educators advocate group projects in education, how often are students not provided the necessary tools to coordinate and manage their group projects?  Businesses use project management tools to coordinate their tasks, efforts and documents all the time.  Why shouldn’t students in college regardless of them being in Business degree program or not?

At the University of South Florida, students’ emails are now powered by Google Apps. The university has provided students the collaboration tools by becoming a Google University. Here students can work together on papers, presentations, websites, and even conversation with Google talk while being in different parts of the state or country.   Google Docs allows the students the access to this type of collaboration, but in itself does not handle the management of meetings, tasks, milestones, Due dates and features that are used in business to manage group projects.

Enter ManyMoon.com

Many Moon dot com Home Page

Manymoon.com

Manymoon.com provides many project management tools with in its online environment. Another great feature is students can login into manymoon.com with their  USF student email address (i.e. student@mail.usf.edu) and use the service for free!  Students just need to choose Google Apps from the login menu.

Choose Google Apps

In the next box the student types in their USF email address.  The next window will ask for permission to use their email account with Manymoon.com.

sign in with student email address

After students have logged in to the system, they will have the ability to create projects.  Once the project has been created, other students can be invited by email, tasks and milestones can be created, and Google Docs can be created or attached to the new project.

Create a Task

Links in Manymoon such as  Documents, members, events, calendars Students are presented with a project dashboard, which provides easy access to many of the features of manymoon.com.

The Many Moon service is free for with storage limitations and some features are not included. Branding, Customizability, More Storage, Email features, and other extra features that are more like “Nice to Haves” are apart of Many Moon paid for features. Click the image below to learn more about the upgrade options of Many Moon. 

The University of South Florida is adding to its collection of technology tools to benefits students in their course work. The addition of Google Apps and Many Moon is just an example of this forward thinking Research One University.

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