App Challenge Sheets

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I’ve recently been inspired by the simple challenges created by Craig Badura that give app-using educators a simple but engaging task where they can learn a new app not just by reading about it but by making something. As reported by Tony Vincent at Learninginhand.com, other people have started following Craig’s lead and making their own App Challenges – including me now – see the links below to download my attempt that takes you through a ‘Book Creator’ project and a Skitch project…

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LINK: App Discoveries Book Creator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINK: App Discoveries Skitch

 

 

 

 

Will You Mini? 1st thoughts on the new iPad by a teacher

So the much awaited entry by Apple into the smaller tablet space has now been announced. You can as usual get all the details immediately at Apple.com. It does look, just like with the iPhone5, to be an amazing feat of engineering in regards to its fit and finish etc, areas that often set Apple products apart and for which people are prepared to choose time and again.

My feeling however for schools is that the US$329 price ($369 in Australia) is too high to really trigger a mass takeup. Perhaps it will come down in price over the next couple of years, but for now – although the cameras are better, in other respects its identical to the iPad2. For iPad buyers, that leaves the smaller size as the main differentiating factor – which may be great for being out and about, and maybe for P-3 students?

I’d be very Interested in the thoughts of P-3 teachers on if they’d prefer the smaller size or the full size iPad. Also – how many would choose the mini purely to save $50 or so over the iPad2 (which I’m very surprised they kept around)? Maybe if you were buying a lot?

There is one factor however that is highly in the mini’s favour – step outside of comparing the 16gb mini and 16gb iPad2 and it becomes a different comparison. Many schools I work with I know are finding 16gb too small nowadays – so with the mini you can get a 32gb mini model for $479 when the only other iPad with that option is the full iPad at $649 – that is a major difference beyond just the size.

(Also consider however that refurbished 32gb models of the larger 3rd gen retina iPad are also selling at only US$469 [or US$379 for 16gb] now as spotted by theverge.com).

 

What will be in iOS6 for educators?

What will be in iOS6 for educators?

Every year at this time, Apple has used the opening of its World Wide Developers Conference to preview what the next version of the iPhone and iPad operating system will bring. Amongst the purported 200 new features we will see when iOS version 6 is released in our Spring (Fall in the USA), I wanted to detail three of those announced overnight that in my opinion will be most useful for educators and schools. While there is nothing quite on the level of AirPlay mirroring which we got last year, these are worth knowing about and planning for. I’ll also touch on something that might be a concern.

Accessibility – Guided Access mode

  • Mentioned only briefly as part of the accessibility options in iOS6, to me this may turn out to be the most useful new feature of iOS6 for educators as it allows a teacher to disable the home button effectively turning on a ‘single, one-app at at time’ mode.
  • I can see it being especially good for schools with shared sets of iPads and iPod touches and who need students to not accidentally or otherwise use certain apps. May also help those students who ‘multi-task’ a bit too much.

Do-not-disturb switch

  • This option in settings will allow users to halt all incoming notifications and alerts with one toggle – or to customise what is allowed and even when.
  • I see this as being a great new tool for busy educators and for students doing assignments etc – we’ll now be able to have designated ‘quiet’ time to concentrate on the task at hand without being distracted.

Siri for iPad 3

  • This will bring exactly what it says – rather than just the voice dictation that it debuted with, iOS6 will enable Siri for the new (2012) iPad. Strangely, rather than taking up the full screen to show you maps or information, a small (iPhone-sized) Siri window will pop up. Siri will also be updated to accept more commands such as opening apps.
  • For educators of students who are sight-impaired, having them be able to interact with their iPad simply by speaking will be a boon.
  • If you haven’t already, you might like to consider having students use headphones to keep all the voice chatter down.

 

 

The one concern I did want to note is one that could be said to come up anytime that we discuss how consumer devices like the iPhone and iPad can be ‘translated’ for use in Education. So in many schools for example, Siri or voice dictation (as opposed to the Voice-Over accessibility feature) won’t work through the standard network settings, and neither may notifications and alerts.

Ok, any I have missed? For the most comprehensive list go to iLounge:

http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/whats-new-in-ios-6-ipad-iphone-ipod-touch-screenshots/

Kids Apps: as selected by miss 4


As tested and selected by my Miss 4 1/2 – a 3 1/2 year iOS veteran.
Nearly all of these have iPad and iPod touch/iPhone versions, and are in the free->$5 range (some also have free ‘lite’ versions you can try out).

Special mention:


Clara

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/clara/id286367870?mt=8&ls=1

This was the first app our then 9 month old used. Very simple of course, just tap the image that links to the sound being made. Ask what the name of the old iPhone that she uses is tho, and even to this day she will reply ‘Clara’ .

Her top choices (based on which apps she independently goes back to and spends the most time on):


Puppet Pals

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/puppet-pals-hd/id342076546?mt=8&ls=1

- choose characters, move them with your finger and talk – and Puppet Pals turns it all into a movie. Great for imagination and developing oral language.


My PlayHome

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/my-playhome/id439628153?mt=8&ls=1

- interact with 5 spaces in a play house – amazing level of detail and interaction possibilities.


Art Maker by Playschool

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/play-school-art-maker/id473900831?mt=8&ls=1

- free and provides great picture making options and scenes


Ansel & Clair

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/ansel-clairs-adventures-in/id433593765?mt=8&ls=1

- a little more advanced, but even at age three this was a hit with lots of sections and animations to explore on a journey around Africa


Park Math or Draw and Tell, or anything by Duck Duck Moose

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/draw-tell-hd-by-duck-duck/id504752087?mt=8&ls=1

- all apps by Duck Duck Moose have great graphics and animation as well as songs and hidden interactions.


Red Writing

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/red-writing-learn-to-write/id474392775?mt=8&ls=1

- aimed at Australian kids, it includes the right school font used by each state as kids practice letter formation


Montessori Crosswords

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/montessori-crosswords-learn/id384334005?mt=8&ls=1

- allows kids to explore letters and sounds as well as to see how to use them to build words


FindThemAll

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/find-them-all-looking-for/id426394333?mt=8&ls=1

- just a simple look around and find animals with some quiz questions, but this one has proved very popular on a recent week away.


Seuss Band

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/dr.-seuss-band/id474940131?mt=8&ls=1

- Great for co-ordination and getting a sense of the fun of playing music


Talking Carl

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/talking-carl!/id417373312?mt=8&ls=1

- the original talking creature app – repeats what you say in fun and interactive ways – very good for developing oral language skills


iWrite Words

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/iwritewords-handwriting-game/id307025309?mt=8&ls=1

- a letter tracing and word making app with fun activities like tipping the device to slide the letters around


Me Books – Lady Bird Classics

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/ladybird-classic-me-books/id453238220?mt=8&ls=1

- animates old classic books and allows you to record as many animal sounds or readings of the story as you like yourself.


Monster at the end of the book

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/monster-at-end-this-book…starring/id409467802?mt=8&ls=1

- just pure fun as you drive Grover more and more crazy as the story unfolds

A little more advanced:


Pirate Treasure Hunt

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/pirate-treasure-hunt-eight/id392208108?mt=8&ls=1

- younger kids may require help as there are some great problem solving puzzles


Bartelby’s Book of Buttons volume 1 & 2

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/bartlebys-book-buttons-vol./id384841276?mt=8&ls=1

- a step beyond Pirate Treasure hunt with an involved story and puzzles that prove a great challenge for kids when they are ready.

Also – Moms with apps is the best parent site for keeping up apps aimed at kids:
http://momswithapps.com

A ‘know-why’ guide to iBooks Author

Its well known that giving easy digital content creation tools into the hands of more teachers and students is a great way to encourage focus on higher order thinking skills in the curriculum. For schools with Macs and iPads, the release of Apple’s iBooks Author software in January made this even more possible.

Attached to this post is 1.0 draft of a ‘know-why’ guide to using iBooks Author to make digital content thats localised and personalised just for your students. Download and enjoy, plus leave comments if you have questions or feedback.

To load, just download directly onto an iPad with iBooks 2 installed, and tap ‘open in iBooks’, or download to your PC and sync via iTunes.

I’ll also attach a PDF version for those who want the info but don’t currently have access to an iPad with iBooks 2 installed.

DROPBOX DOWNLOAD LINKS: 

(If tapping to download on an iPad, please wait 1-2 mins for the download screen to appear, then several more while it downloads)

UPDATE – have taken the iBooks file link down as enough time for the feedback version to be up has passed. Will post the final one hopefully in the near future.

iBooks file link (45mb)

PDF file link (51mb)

iPad 2: whats in it for education?

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So, version 2 of the device that has spurred the tablet computing market into the mainstream over the last 12 months (15 million sold) has been announced. Despite being a consumer device, it has seen massive adoption by professionals in business, medicine, and education. In Australia, there are iPad trials occurring in nearly every state, with over 500 deployed officially in Victoria alone. So it only follows that there will be great interest in the next version (to be released in Australia March 25). Here are the top 3 things that iPad 2 has going for it as far as education is concerned:
1. Screen Mirroring – Almost from day one of the release of the original iPod touch, the number one question that educators have asked is “can I display the screen on a projector or tv?”, and the answer has been “no”, then “no, but yes if you use a document camera”, then “yes some apps can, but its still limited”. Now FINALLY, the iPad 2 (and presumably all iOS devices going forward) will support full screen mirroring of everything via the VGA cable or the new HDMI cable. For showing apps and using the iPad as a shared whiteboard etc, this is a huge leap forward.
2. Lighter – apparently the new iPad is 15% lighter – just enough of an improvement to make it more usable by students. I know my first generation iPad does get heavy even for my adult arms after 15mins or so – for primary school students especially, the weight drop might be just enough to allow for extended mobile use of iPads without as much hand/arm strain.
3. Price drop of the old model – for now at least, the iPad 1 has had its price dropped by large amounts – up to AU$200 on some models – so its a great time for schools with limited budgets (ie all that I know) to do a learning and management plan, then purchase iPads at the cheaper price point.
So what does the iPad not have yet for education? As mentioned above, the iPad is a consumer device – its not been designed with the needs of education in mind specifically. So we still need a good system for managing and syncing more than a few iPads. We also need clarity around education use off apps and iTunes content. The hope is that the app volume licensing program available in the US will be extended overseas and enhanced with provision for iBooks and music/movies as well as apps. For Mac users, the next version of the Mac OS (due in around 6 months) will reportedly include iOS device management built in. Until then, proceed with caution; join an online iPad in education community, and create a good learning/management plan as always!
Planning resources:
www.slidetolearn.info – beginners guide for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone in Education (updated regularly)
21 Steps to 1-1 – planning guide for deploying technology in education (this one is laptop specific – adapt for your device) http://education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/pdf/scbyte-21steps.pdf
21 Steps to iPad success – Victorian Education department version of 21 Steps guide specifically for iPads http://asp-uk.secure-zone.net/v2/index.jsp?id=639/684/1625&lng=en
iPad in Education networks:
> Slide2Learn iPad/iPhone/iPod touch learning community and events.
> iPad4Edu iPad for Education Question and Answer site.

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder’s posterous

Notetaking app for Education: Review of Underscore Notify

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iTunes Link:

One of the most popular categories of iOS apps is that of notetaking, for obvious reasons. It is one of the areas where nearly all the benefits of working digitally come together to provide real enhancement of the teaching/learning process. There are several really good ones – Penultimate is beautiful for handwriting, Soundnote is great for recording audio notes that are mapped to typed notes, Smartnote lets you add all kinds of widgets and graphics to enhance your notes. But far and away the most useful, most comprehensive notetaking app I have ever used is Underscore Notify – I know I’m making this sound like I work for them – not the case. I’m just one grateful educator. Here’s a quick overview of its features:

- Type notes anywhere on screen; multiple font and text colour etc options
- draw, highlight etc again with multiple pen and colour options
- import PDF files or other documents to annotate and highlight
- import images as backgrounds or to illustrate notes
- use the built-in web browser to clip webpages straight into your notes
- use the built-in maps function to clip google maps straight into your notes
- add audio recordings to your notes
- built-in web server – you can share your screen live to anyone with a web browser
- VGA out- you can display your screen live as you create your notes or present pre-made pages
- hand-writing recognition (with PhatPad in-app purchase) – translates handwritten notes into typed text.
Of course just having all these features is no good if the app is too messy or complicated for them to be easily used, but Notify has a great inbuilt help function and tutorials (although these load from a website) meaning that it doesn’t take to long to puzzle out all of its extensive functions.
The obvious use of this app is for notetaking right? And certainly from the features above you can see how powerful it would be. But here is my usage scenario to illustrate how I think Notify can be by a teacher:
Because the VGA out / web-server allows you to share your screen, I have enjoyed success using Notify to present and facilitate a teaching session. I draft up a series of pages (slides) as an outline and fill them with some images, info etc, but as the session goes on, Notify allows me to add in web pages, maps, extra documents, whatever that enrich and extend the lesson – all right within the one app and immediately viewable by everyone who is participating. The dynamics that this allows fits in very well with my ideas of how the 21st century classroom should operate – flexible and adaptable.
Even better, its US$1.99 price AND the fact that its universal (pay once for the iPad and iPod touch version) makes it a no-brainer to download and try. It does experience crashes on my iPad (probably due to low memory), but seemed to always have saved my work when I restarted. The sheer number of features does give it a learning curve also, but as I’ve said, the help and tutorials sections are very good. Overall, 8/10

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder’s posterous

iPhone 4 – not much for educators? (updated)

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While I wait for a decent Android tablet to ship (be it iPod touch or iPad sized), I’ll instead post here about the just released info on the iPhone 4 and its OS (iOS4). Why? Well because in my state alone there are many many schools using the iPod touch to enhance learning. Here are some thoughts:

iPhone 4 new wiz-bang features:

  • 960x 640 ‘retina’ IPS display, antenna’s integrated into the case, front facing video camera, all glass casing thats much thinner than the 3GS, noise-canceling mic, Apple A4 processor, LED flash, fast 802.11N wifi, gyroscope, 5 megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom, 720p HD video recording, iMovie for iPhone and ‘Facetime’ wifi video calling.

I can’t see much there that will actually help me do my job as a teacher any better than what the 3GS does, perhaps except that it’ll be a bit faster at switching from say reading a pdf to showing a picture etc. UPDATE: Looks like from the tech specs on the iPhone 4 site that it will support VGA out to projectors like the iPad – NICE!

Perhaps of more interest from a school perspective is what the iOS 4 update will bring on June 21:

  • iBooks – plenty of free books AND will soon be able to act as a standard PDF reader and bookshelf
  • Multi-tasking – this is why I say iOS4 – not much for schools, because the vast majority of us are using 2nd gen iPod touches in our schools, and these won’t support mulit-tasking. Will have to see what price the 3rd gen iPod touch drops down to around september when the 4th gen iPod touch should be released, but when the 2nd gen is now available for under AU$200, its hard not to be getting these for schools
  • Spellchecking is listed as one of the new features – didn’t we have that before?
  • bluetooth keyboard support – now this might be a big one for students – what does everyone think? Screen still too small to type with a full keyboard?
  • The update will at least be free for iPod touches now!