Friday, October 21, 2011

Wheat and Chaff

Hi, folks. Sorry this is my first post about this project.

I'm a general biology teacher using an iPad and am enjoying it of course. The ease of use in setting up and getting files on it was exceptional. This is perhaps so for me personally since I'm a reasonably strong user of Apple products generally.

Unlike Toni, I'm not overly thrilled with all of the content I'm finding about my topic. The actual content of many of the apps relating to my area of expertise are deeply flawed. Animations that are technically inaccurate or for which there are only one or two (relatively) esoteric topics covered are the most common problems. One glaring exception is an iPad app version of a new book written by Richard Dawkins.

The title of the book (and app) is The Magic of Reality. The app has beautiful graphics and interactive activities in which the reader can manipulate simulations in order to get a deeper understanding of the topic in hand. The book is intended as a children's general science book and is beautifully illustrated and incredibly well written. (I can't wait 'till my 4 year old daughter is more along the lines of 8, so that I can share this with her. Dawkins says the target age is 12-14 years, but there's no way I'm waiting that long. :) The section on evolution uses a method of explaining the concepts of our ancestry in a clear and powerful way that I've never encountered before. I would love to find a way to share this content with my non-majors general biology class, and perhaps even the Evolutionary Biology class which I coordinate.

However, like Toni I'm having trouble figuring out how I could use this technology directly in the classroom. Getting what I see on my iPad up onto a projector is, I understand, not an insurmountable hurdle. It is at least a small hurdle, nonetheless. Otherwise I have no idea how to make this content generally available to my students as I couldn't expect them to buy an iPad just to see/read this one section of this book.

This difficulty is compounded by the fact that any original content I produce is difficult to get the iPad to use easily. Even if I were (or had access to) a programmer (I'm thinking about Bob Richardson and Brett here), I could not code an animation and make it viewable on an iPad easily. Apple controls what software/apps run on their machines fairly tightly. I have an idea or two about how to use a touch screen to demonstrate concepts to my students, but I don't think it's feasible to enact these ideas on the iPad. I suspect it would be much easier to implement them on an Android.

I'm thoroughly enjoying reading all of your input. Hope I contribute more in the near future. Thanks,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taking the good with the bad...

I've enjoyed browsing the app store over the last few weeks. I teach mass communication courses (PR, Advertising, Introduction to Mass Communication, etc.) and have been encouraged by several I've found, specifically:

1. Coyne Hot Sheet - a sampling of hot-off-the-presses PR campaigns that could serve as case studies for discussion. Direct Marketing News also has an app that could be used for a similar purpose.

2. Terminology - a writing app that claims to help anyone from a novelist to an advertising exec find just the right word. I can envision it being useful for in-class writing projects. This is the first app I paid for - it was $2.99.

3. Popplet (I downloaded the free "lite" version) - it creates a series of what I perceive to be thought bubbles/a brainstorming web. It might be also be useful to create video advertising story boards.

But then I ran across something rather disturbing...Marketing and Advertising Essays.

Here's the description:

Give yourself the edge with 1000++ Professional Marketing & Advertising Essays and Assignments.

Are you studying Marketing & Advertising? Struggling with a Marketing & Advertising essay? You've come to the right place. We've included Marketing & Advertising essays on this application to help.

What you really need, however, is an original, fresh answer to your Marketing & Advertising essay question, written just for you. That's exactly what we provide - and your answer is written by a certified professional.

We have writers who have undergraduate and masters qualifications in Marketing & Advertising, and who are experts in your subject. Many work in the Marketing & Advertising sector and so have both the practical experience and also theoretical knowledge, the work they produce is as you would expect to the highest standards (I'm typing this verbatim - grammatical issues and all). The essays provided on this application are special for you.

End of description.

It was free so I went ahead and downloaded it to see if it was worth being concerned about. It is. The pre-written essays run about $30 a piece from what I can tell (50% off - what a deal!), and they offer the ability to preview portions before you buy. The few I read aren't perfect, but I wouldn't expect a freshman essay on the 4 Ps of marketing to be flawless. I didn't dig deep enough to see how much the essays written "special for you" are.

I was aware of paper writing services, but it hadn't occurred to me that there would be an app for that. :( Perhaps I'm just being naive though.

Is there a way to report something like this to Apple?