iLearn iPod touch personalised learning project Journal 2: Critical thinking via the App store

iLearn iPod touch personalised learning project, Week 2 & 3:

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This has been the part where the kids get very excited, something to do with the fact that they get their hands on the iPod Touch at this stage. Why do they get excited? Is it because the touch’s are so ‘cool’? Or is it in fact because they are so relieved to get to use something from the real world, something they are familiar with, when normally this only happens rarely at school? Up to this point, the students had not even seen the iPod’s; I’d made them wait so that we could work through some of the critical thinking goals of the unit first.
After a brief keynote demonstrating to the kids the basics of using the app store again and how to save a screenshot to record their choices, it was off to the space outside our admin block where we can access the wireless network. Obviously the wifi is crucial to this stage, and true to form, it was in and out, working fine for some lessons and not others. But they say that through trials comes learning and I was able to find couple of solutions to the wildest problems, although why the exact same settings work one hour and need to be re-entered another is still beyond me (3COM are you reading this?!).
Just as I’m asking the kids to continually be reflecting on the learning process, so am I attempting to do the same with the unit as a whole. So I’ve already made two adjustments, both arising out of conversations with members of my personal learning network. One was with a project officer who was interviewing me – the process of answering allowed me to reflect and also pick up on one of his ideas. So even though I had set verbal discussion moments up to occur every two weeks where the students reflected on their learning choices, I will now formalise this a little with set questions. The idea is that I can gauge their progress towards independent critical reflection by how much scaffolding they need to answer these questions, with the goal that they will need no help by the end of the unit. The second adjustment is that I found a free app where students can build T-charts to put down the pro’s and con’s of their initial app choice. This is how they will justify to me which ones need downloading (especially for the paid ones).
So that’s pretty much week 2 and week 3. The students have made their choice of a focus area based on their own learning data, and have narrowed down a choice of solutions (apps), with some even starting on completing T-charts to analyse these selections.
I’m still trying to get email setup on the devices so we can easily share content to and from them… But have been successful in getting assistance from our wonderful Principal and P&C to get some of the furniture resources (storage, lockable cupboards etc) that we desperately need.

The first Web2.0, comprehensive iPhone education app?

By Jonathan Nalder, and Shane Roberts

One common problem for educators seeking to use the iPhone or iPod touch in their learning environment is the fact that the most common uses of the devices for things such as taking attendance, voice recording or interfacing with learning management systems (such as Moodle) require constant exiting and switching between several different apps. All this switching has the potential to keep teacher eyes off students for the precious seconds it takes for them to go off-task.  Excessive app-switching will also increase the number of applications accessing the device memory, resulting in a slower operational and response time.

Helping to solve this problem is a new app from iKonstrukt thats simply titled ‘Educate’. Unlike many other education apps released so far for the platform, ‘Educate’ groups several common functions into one program, meaning that running a lesson requires less app-switching. These multiple functions include an inbuilt calendar with welcome widescreen mode, an attendance and grade marking database, a stopwatch, voice recorder, photo tool (take images and add text to them), reference area (with numerous teaching strategy tips) and link to online learning system Moodle (apparently integration with the other main LMS Blackboard is being looked at for a future release).

So can this app live up to its ambitious name of providing everything needed to educate a student? Bearing in mind that this is a 1.0 release, and still has a few quirks (that running the ‘free memory’ app first often helps with), it has in our 3 days of testing proved to be a great start at accomplishing just this lofty goal. It does need the ability to import student names as well as calendar data before time-poor teachers may really start to use all of its planner and tracker features to the full.

What may really convince some Teachers to purchase Educate is its Moodle integration, but I haven’t been able to test this, with my school being Blackboard-based. The app does however seem at this point to only allow the posting of content to Moodle; I’m not sure if …

Another unique Educate feature that should be noted is its in-built link to the app’s Facebook support page where help forums and the growing number of other educators using the app can be directly accessed, again all without closing the app itself.

So is it worth its price of US$6.99 ($8.99 in Australian store)? The answer to this question may depend on how much your school could benefit from mobile access to Moodle, but for those doing the math (one function which you do still have to switch out of Educate for – think I’ll make a calculator a feature request), Educate’s price is cheaper by quite a bit than buying separate apps to get the same functionality.

On the other hand: Why I won’t purchase Educate (personal opinion of shanetechteach);
1. Lesson planning is “trapped” within the device.  I can’t access it from my other devices, or share it with others.  How can my students see my planning?
2. Doesn’t integrate with BlackBoard.
3. Grade and attendance data seems to be trapped within the application.

I will stick to the use of multiple and free applications until it has a process to copy data from the iPhone or iPod Touch to your laptop or desktop.  Where recording of grades and attendance is completed in one program, export is required for school specific processes so that teacher work is not increased by double input. For example, my school uses IDAttend for attendance and OneSchool for reporting. Cohort grades are centrally recorded on a network spreadsheet. As a Head of Department it would not be in my interests to have each of my teacher’s grades stored separately, and only on their device.

So I personally will stick with Google calandar (synced to the iPod Touch calendar) for my lesson planning; iTalk and Evernote for images, notes and voice recording.  BlackBoard will still require me to use my computer so no advantage there.

In summary, its great to see a specific education application developed for teachers, however it does not offer the services that would convince me to purchase it - yet?

By the way readers, there’s an active feature request page HERE:

Full details:
Educate: iPhone & iTouch App for Teachers

Educate is an iPhone/iTouch application designed to support teaching professionals in schools, universities and colleges. Featuring inbuilt lesson planning, student tracking, teaching strategies and eLearning tools, Educate provides teachers with a holistic approach to engaging students in 21st century learning environments.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWzPFgZKY9w

Key Features:

Plan lessons: Educate’s inbuilt weekly planner allows teachers to personalise their timetable and plan lessons all from a single interface.

Monitor student attendance and progress: Quickly and easily track student attendance or performance in classes via ready made scales.

Engage students at a deeper level: Access easy to follow strategies for engaging students during individual or collaborative activities.

Implement eLearning: Post real time content to Moodle learning spaces, anywhere, anytime. Also, access critical tools such as a voice recorder for anecdotal notes, a camera that allows you to label images and a stopwatch for time-critical tasks.

Collaborate with other Educate users: Connect online through Facebook with other Educate users to discuss pedagogical practice, suggest application features and seek support.

Price: $6.99 US

Itunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=313379802&mt=8

The iPhone Could Be The Ultimate Study Machine

TechCrunch has this great article up on the state of education apps for the iPhone platform:

With gigabytes of storage, dimensions comparable to traditional note cards, and a full color screen, the iPhone is the ultimate study companion. And, unlike many of its smartphone competitors, the iPhone and iPod Touch have huge appeal for the younger crowds that generally flock to study materials.

Unfortunately the current state of the ‘Education‘ section of the App Store leaves something to be desired – many of the top apps are poorly designed, and some of the best-selling applications in both the ‘paid’ and ‘free’ sections have fewer than 100 total reviews. I blame this mostly on a general lack of awareness.

 

 

Its well worth a read if you’re experimenting with the iPhone and learning opportunities – plus the article has spawned a long and growing list of comments on the subject – head over and add your opinion!
(Thanks to Adrian for the link)

Posted via email from Jonathan’s posterous

Mobile Software is here to stay

> So, this whole ‘buying software just for mobile devices’ thing is > really taking off! Educators should take note that a major shift > from PCs to mobile/ everywhere computing I’d under way -I mean > 500,000,000 app downloads in 6 months is a huge number by any > technology platforms standards, and with Android, Palm and > Blackberry all having app stores of their own ok the way, it’s clear > that anytime access to software via wireless connections will be an > important part of our students futures. Now to working out what the > educational opportunities if this are … !
>
> Read more about it here:
>
> http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/news/comments/app-store-500-million-downloads-15000-apps/

Posted via email from Jonathan’s posterous