iPhone5 review in 26 words or less

Why would I talk about a consumer device like the iPhone here at uLearning Blog? Basically because it sets a bar each year for how much advanced computing can be squeezed into a soon to become even more ubiquitous device. Smartphones are today’s PCs and give us an idea where tomorrow’s computing may be heading.




Svelte • Precise • Seriously light • Bigger + smaller at the same time i.e. Less is more • Fast • Expensive • Inherently complex but implicitly simple • Slab of the future

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:


#LWF11 Festival of Learning & Technology: My Best Of

I recently had the great opportunity to attend the Learning Without Frontiers ‘festival of learning and technology’ in the UK in January of this year. The conference itself had three streams of Handheld learning, Game based learning, and digital safety. I of course had been interested mostly in attending the handheld learning sessions, but it was in fact the lineup of amazing short talks (what we used to call ‘Keynote’s in a pre-TED talks world) that ended up having the most impact on my thinking.

(Collage created in Moxier Collage on iPad)
So, I’d like to share here which of these talks I found the most inspiring, and hope they may provide the great start to your year that they did to mine: (I’ll include direct viewing links as well as links to download the podcasts via iTunes).
Iris Lapinski – Apps for Good, a problem solving program for young people that leads to their apps being created using Android. Features students themselves talking about the project.
Theo Gray – Creator of the Elements App; Co-founder of Wolfram Alpha; spoke eBooks, creating media, and about the disruption caused by technology.
Bill Rankin – ACU mobile connected initiative. ACU in Texas, USA was the first university to deploy iPhones and iPod touches to all students and faculty, and they now have three years of data showing the initiative to be a success. Bill talked also about eBooks and the future of books and textbooks.
Abdul Chohan – ESSA Academy school UK – this schools was a failing school, until a re-boot saw iPod touches widely and smartly deployed.
Tony Vincent – Learning in Hand – Tony expertly goes through just what’s possible with mobile movie making.
Stephen Heppell ‘Education is the next cartel that people and technology will break’. Inspiring and disruptive as ever, Stephen was great at cutting through to inspire thoughts about what education should look like.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder, Wikipedia – A great opportunity to hear directly from the founder of such a central plank of the digital revolution share his thoughts on the power of information.
David McCandless – Infographics – informationisbeautiful.net
Just wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks also to everyone who SMS’d and TXT’d in to support my shortlisting in the Primary Innovator Award category – the win was a  great surprise, and just goes to show the strength of the great networks I’m privileged to be a part of.

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder’s posterous

So what are these super popular tablet computers capable of anyway?


Its hard to deny that in the book that tells how computing has become more and more mobile such that its already almost ubiquitous, the current chapter would be titled ‘tablets’. While they have been around for some years in various forms, the recent maturation of mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS to match the slate style has seen an explosion in the adoption rates of tablet computers. The iPad is selling over 1 million devices a month, and it seems that conversely, about a million different Android tablets get announced each week. The Dell Streak, Asus EePad and Samsung Galaxy are all examples of high profile Android tablet computers that will be released in the next 4 months. There are also education specific initiatives around Android tablets in the shape of the Marvel/OLPC $99 project, and India’s $35 slate. Of interest also is what HP releases in the way of a ‘PalmPad’ tablet that will run the WebOS they bought along with Palm.

Ok, so enough about the hype of devices. What can they do? And specifically, what can they do for learning? Not having access to an Android tablet yet myself, my observations are based on the using the iPad. For a list of Android education apps though, go here.

I’m aiming then to post semi-regular articles on what these tablets can do, starting today with this example: iBrainstorm (free from the appstore). This app (an others like it) allow you to map out ideas, plans and thoughts visually. Where it really provides a new experience is that, being available on a tablet, all the work is done by direct touch, just as we would have once done pre-PCs. So we get to arrange notes and draw in a paper-like way, but with all the advantages that working digitally brings – such as instant sharing and storage of the brainstorm session. And, you also get to instantly collaborate. iBrainstorm allows other devices (iPhones or iPod touches as you’d expect from this platform) to connect via bluetooth and create their own sticky-notes which can be passed to the main iPad with a flick of the finger.

In a classroom, I can just see the group work possibilities. You could have four – five students summarising a topic, with up to four students creating sticky-notes of key points and flicking to a fifth student with the iPad tablet who then arranges them. I am really hoping that in near future the developers will add a video-out capability so the work could be projected to a big screen to show the brainstorm taking place live – that way the whole class could contribute.

If this is any indication of the kind of applications that tablet computers of any platform are capable, I for one am excited about the the kind of learning they will help enable. Of course it all depends on teachers facilitating their use – would love to hear from other teachers attempting to do so.

iPhone 4 – not much for educators? (updated)


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!

Slide to Learn – guide for teachers (Beta)


For about 5 months I (with help from friends) have been writing a guide to using the iPod touch, iPhone and now iPad in education. Nearly every day I get an email or query as to how to approach deploying these devices in schools. I’m passionate that hard-working teachers not fall into the ‘shiny-things’ syndrome and just spend school money on whatever is the latest cool gadget – although I am secretly stoked that finally, most are actually looking at mobile devices rather than dubiously fixed IWBs.

To help answer some of the questions that these time-poor teachers have, there now exists THIS guide – www.slidetoLearn.info . It takes its name obviously from the ‘slide to unlock’ home screen of iPod touch, iPhone and iPad devices – a nice metaphor for unlocking potential. My favourite description of this platform is that it is a ‘blank slate’ ready to become whatever the user/ student/ teacher wants. Sure its not a perfect platform (no true video-out, can only act as clients of a desktop pc) – but its flexibility and ease of use put it at the head of all mobile eco-systems at present. (I’ll be happy to write an Android guide if I ever am able to get some devices).

The guide has five main sections – and is still in beta and receiving feedback – so please feel free to comment/ email back.


Talking Carl does early years oral literacy without kids realising it

Carl exp_048

You’re 4 years old, you love bright red shiny things, and you have a parent with an iPhone. You might also be just starting to develop your oral literacy (don’t worry, you’ll understand what this is when you’re older). So is there an app for you? As of this week, and Awyse’ release of ‘Talking Carl’ ($0.99), there is.

When you first open Talking Carl, you see floating cartoon clouds, and a lovable, shiny red creature who likes to be interacted with in ways that all kids understand – tickles and pokes. But unlike your standard animated character, he also likes to be spoken to, and saves his best trick for when you do. When Carl hears your voice (microphone required for use with iPod touch) he immediatly opens up his big red mouth and repeats back what you have said in his own cartoon voice.

And thats it. Some reviews on the App Store so far point out that kids only use it for short bursts, and my own testing with a nearly 3 year old confirm this. But from a teacher’s perspective, it is exactly this kind of short-burst, repeated activity that reinforces a child’s sense of how sounds, words, and later sentences sound.

The voice of Carl could do with a bit of variation (again thats probably just an adult talking), but overall, as a cheap but fun aid to the development of oral literacy, its well worth the investment, wether for long car trips, or for classroom group activities. Perhaps a female character could be added? Apart from that, its simple and it seems to work. 4 Stars.

Classroom use? > A. simply allow students to access Carl in their device ‘playtime’ – its fun enough that they will seek it out and even in short bursts, its all adding to their development of oral literacy – sound and speech development. B. Have students practice specific sounds or words by saying them to Carl. These can be recorded using Voice Memo (which being an Apple app can run in the background while you use Talking Carl) so that students can have further reinforcement by hearing the whole session played back.

Current thoughts on ubiquitous computing and learning

Well, I started this ubiquitous learning blog just over 12 months ago as a successor to a long-runing mobile learning blog. My reason was that while mobile learning (or mLearning) had finally started to catch on amongst educators, we are often a conservative lot, and I felt there was much more yet to be done – such as using the mLearning as a basis to start preparing for the real show – what learning would have to look like in a world of totally universal, ubiquitous computing.

Writing now some 14 months later, and being based in Australia as I am, I see currently three movements that indicate we as a country are further along the road to computing becoming just another human right/ utility in the same way as electricity say. The first is the rollout of the federal governments Digital Education Revolution (DER) – a catchy election promise that is becoming a reality such that all year 9-12 students will have 1:1 access to a computer by the end of 2011. The program is about halfway deployed at present, and its only 3 year timespan has meant that every high school in the country wether ready or not has had to adapt to suddenly embracing the digital world. Some are taking advantage of all the value-adds that 1:1 and digital environments can bring, others are struggling to take traditional pedagogy and make it work when students have such regular access information and the tools to re-shape and share it.

The second sign is at the opposite end of the Australia schooling system – remote primary schools. One Laptop Per Child Australia (with and partly for whom I am currently working) is at the very beginnings of deploying up to 400,000 XO learning devices to remote schools in Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland. About 1500 have been deployed in proof of concept rollouts so far, all with the express philosophy of saturation – whereby every teacher, aide and student receive the same machine. Similar to the DER and high schools, this can be a shock at first – but all signs point to the ubiquity of the approach as being a key to its success – there is no going back or choosing to be the non-XO class so to speak.

Finally, I turn to a computing movement that doesn’t even qualify definitional-y as one. You won’t find it (yet) being supported officially through Education Departments – but it is one that grassroots educators are embracing exponentially just as their students have – I’m talking about the iPod touch, iPhone, and soon (for us non-US citizens) the iPad. What started first as individual teachers spending their own money on an iPod touch for their classroom has spread to school-wide deployments of 30 or even up to 200 iPod touch’s. In my state alone we have well over 200 educators active on our iPhone and iPod touch in education discussion list. They have been called the first computer you can use without instructions, and they and their ilk (we need more Android mobile devices here please Google et al) seem to be building up a momentum that even more than the many hundred of thousands of laptops mentioned in the first two examples may be bringing Australia towards a ubiquitous computing environment (apparently over 1 million iPhone’s have been sold in Australia for instance).

And what should an educator’s response be? Possibly you’re already in the middle of deploying one of these options – and if so, my biggest suggestion is – reflect. While our sector has stood still for so long, the current rush might make us forget our usual values of tying everything we do our learning vision first. So reflect first then on how these devices can enhance learning – don’t make learning fit to them. I’ll be sharing more shortly on a guide to the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch for educators that may also be useful if that is your area (you can check out the beta HERE)…

Gathering of Educators using ubiquitous devices

Last night from 12:30am until 6:30am I attended my first full day web conference. What could have tempted me to stay up all night you ask? It was the ACU Connected event, and you can go HERE to see what sessions were held. As one of 130 educators from around the world (and two from my institution Education Queensland), we logged on to hear real life stories of Universities and Schools that are integrating connected, mobile, wireless devices into their learning activities. To get an overview, its well worth visiting this twitter summary at twazzup.com – it’ll provide you with the most popular links and tags that were shared.

So was it worth staying up for? Well I’d be a dill if I hadn’t made sure beforehand that it would be worth it! But yes, it was. Its one thing to read about and even take small steps oneself towards see effective teaching and connected, mobile learning come together; its quite another to hear directly from the actual practitioners involved in large scale rollouts. ACU has over a thousand students with iPhones or iPod touch’s. FHU has many more. Even some of the K-12 schools had up to 800. It was also a big help with my thinking about the small temp trial of OLPC XOs I’m managing at present. In some ways, the XO is like a big, kid friendly iPod touch… more on this in a future post.

Here’s some of my favourite quotes/ideas:

  • Effectiveness of connected mobile platforms for student use is a big debate as alot of the apps classified as ‘education’ are rote based only.
  • “treat mobile devices as full participants – media players AND content creators”
  • “don’t extend outdated pedagogies into new media”
  • Campus bookstores sweat as faculty move away from expensive textbooks to mobile readers and cheap/free learning resources (via @ruben_r)
  • MCG medical school has a youtube video showing their mobile learning www.mcg.edu/mobile
  • interesting FYI: iPhone vs iPod Touch in education – ACU finds iPhone users more satisfied/ use the device a fair bit more.
  • William_Rank (ACU) “We’re having so much virtual contact with students now that we’ve changed university policy about office hours.”
  • FHU 7 mobile learning objectives (link)
  • At FHU 87% of faculty felt comfortable requiring use of mobile device for class activity (via @allisonoster)
  • “I’m not sure that personal productivity & learning can function separately with these sorts of devices. It’s an artificial distinction.” “many see learning as seperate to personal productivity. Is there a distinction?” (via @agrie8)

    Review of the iPhone 3GS from a uLearning perspective

    The iPhone 3GS is the most advanced converged mobile device and as such, is one that teachers and educators need to be familiar with. Its really a signpost on the road to ubiquitous computing, where mobile, miniaturised, wirless and cloud-based devices proliferate.

    This review looks at how the 3GS is an update to the 3G – its faster speed, video recording, better camera, universal access tools, compass, Nike+ and improved battery all make a compelling case for this new model to find a home with educators. The review details what each of these improvements means for educators looking to advance 21st century learning.
    Go here to view in 3 parts: http://www.youtube.com/user/jnxyz
    or here to view in full (21mins) http://gallery.me.com/jnxyz/100260

    Posted via email from Jonathan’s posterous

    The iPod Touch for mobile learning: a presentation

    I was recently fortunate enough to be able to present at the Innovative Technology in Schools Conference in Brisbane on the topic of mobile learning. Imagine my excitement at having a set of 30 iPod Touch’s available for the participants to learn on! This was a chance to show what the combination of current developments like ubiquitous mobile devices, wireless connectivity and cloud computing (via services like Evernote) will mean for learning in the near-future.

    Despite various technical hurdles (ie. batteries being flat, proxies keeping us from using the wifi fully, twitter search being down!) the attendees seemed to have a great time discovering what possibilities mobile devices hold for education. So here are several ways that you too can experience what I was able to share:

    Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on1GNs3193w

    Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/jnxyz/ipod-touch-for-mobile-learning

    Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/16041976/iPod-touch-for-mobile-learning

    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

    6 Queensland Educators talk about the iPod Touch

    This new paper describes how Australian teachers are using the iPhone and iPod Touch to A. assist them as Educators, and B. to enhance learning. As such, it presents a vital survey of apps and ideas to be shared with other teachers also beginning to use this platform. Thanks to the included Teachers for their keen responses.

    6 Educators Talk About iPhone Use High Qual

    Mobile, ubiquitous access to 1.5 million books

    Any educators still doubting the power of mobile devices and web technologies really needs to see the following article. Not only is the around 1.5 million books that Google has scanned now available for searching and reading, but a new iPhone / iPod Touch / small-screen-optimized interface means it can now be done simply and easily from anywhere in the civilized (read cell-connected) world. Surely that must be useful for some students somewhere?
    I was only discussing yesterday with my schools librarian about what he was planning to do about physical resources vs web-based (ie cheaper, less time and resource hungry) ones… TUAW.com link with more info:

    Via TUAW.com

    Posted via email from Jonathan’s posterous