Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I had a grand idea when first joined the mobile tablet group. I have been very interested in integrating technology in writing instructions and do wish to find a bridge to connect students' personal lives and academic lives and help them see that learning can be rather fun. However, I probably chose a wrong time because I was extremely busy this past spring semester and did not really have sufficient time to explore the ipad and its various applications. For me, the lesson learned is mobile tablets can probably used in classrooms (based on my observation of how ipads were used in some of our colleagues' nursing classes). However, instructors do need to spend much time getting familiar with the tablet and also applications. Using technology in teaching should not be an impulsive decision; rather it needs much research, trials, and experiment. I wish I had chosen a different time to join the group, maybe summer time to learn the tablet and play with its applications to seriously consider its pedagogical implications.

The interesting thing is I went to a conference Computers and Writing one week ago, and learned that some interesting applications used in classrooms in colleagues in other schools. Hopefully I can explore some of them in summer and get to apply them in my class.

Ruijie on May 29

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A few app ideas at the end of class

I think the linked science classes ended well. Students were whining about having to turn their iPads in because they were using them until the end, and all the feedback we got was positive. I really want to figure out how to get these in our classroom, and I think I'm ready to try to allow a variety of devices at the same time.

Really, this has been one of the best IF fund projects I've been a part of.  I've learned so much, and have had a great mind-twisting experience in terms of how I think about the functionality of my classroom. 

I had a few more ideas for simple apps in the classroom.

1) The Stabilization Wedge Game
This could actually be something that the folks at Princeton might want as it is becoming a global way of looking at solutions for climate change.  The idea is that we have a variety of solutions to try and stabilize our greenhouse gas production over the next few years.  Do we do that with energy efficiency or nuclear power?  The Carbon Mitigation Initiative has created a bunch of different options that are possible and included the amount of carbon reduction that would exist with each option. The app I envision would have different wedges representing each of these options, and a stabilization triangle.  Students could choose and drag different wedges to the triangle to come up with their solution for carbon reduction.  We could give them different scenarios so that each group had a different country, each company had different needs, etc. As usual, I'd love for them to be able to email me a jpg or other image of their final wedge-filled triangle.

2) A SIMPLE Graphing App
I still can't find any sort of easy graphing or charting app.  I just want students to be able to make a simple visualization from a set of data. They should be able to plug in the data, make some choices about the graph: graph type, title, axes, legends, and colors.  Everything I can find out there is all crazy powerful scientific calculator-type graphing and I don't need anything that sophisticated.
A website I often use is

3) A Sustainability Triangle
I use this as a tool for finding a solution to any environmental issue, particularly those classified as environmental injustice.

Everything in black is set and doesn't change.  Each point represents one of the three aspects of a sustainable human system: social equity (the people have to have what they need, be healthy, and "happy"), environmental (the natural capital has to be available and uncontaminated, and systems have to work well and be stable), and  economic (a system needs to at least get out what it puts in, if not more depending on what type of economic system you are in).  The center represents 0% sustainability for all the points. The outer points (marked with red lines) represent 100% sustainability. 

So I give the students a case study, and they have to draw a sustainability triangle within the above template.  For each point, they determine how sustainable the situation is. In the example here, I think the people aren't very content, so I gave it a 30% sustainability rank, the pollution is just a little problem so I gave it a 70% rank, and the company involved is making huge profits so I gave it 100% sustainability rank. You then connect the points on the line so you have a triangle (yellow) within the template triangle.   Each student makes their own triangle, and defends it.

What would be great is to have an app that has the black template triangle on it, and a movable internal yellow triangle that slides up and down each point so the students could set the yellow points at their particular sustainability ranking. Or, students could enter a % in each of three text fields and the yellow triangle would move as indicated.  Again, it would be great to be able to have this emailed to me so I can see what their thoughts are.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


What have you found most interesting and/or useful in your use of the tablet thus far?

I am a mac person surrounded by iphones, laptops, ipods, and a lab filled with imacs and I was a little unclear about what exactly the ipad had to offer that I couldn’t already access. By using it as much as possible over the semester I am more excited about it as a teaching tool than anything else. If I had ipads for my lab I know I could use them to fill in the gaps we experience in the photography classes as some students try to learn using point-and-shoot cameras and others have access to full range DSLR’s.  Everyone is expected to learn the same concepts and gain the same skills but some students have the right cameras to actually work through the ideas and gain the skills – others just have to work around their cameras limitations and then just learn the concepts in theory. Although I didn’t teach the video production course this semester I can also see the same need in that course. I did appreciate the demonstration on how to project from the laptop so you can share an app with the class.

What challenges have you experienced or do you foresee?
The biggest challenge for me was that I couldn’t find the aps I wanted. And then I was frustrated that if I couldn’t find them I also couldn’t develop them as a student project if I wanted the ipad format – which I do. I once came close to finding what I wanted only to notice at the last minute a warning that the content may be “for mature audiences only”. A simulated camera app for mature audiences only? Part of the problem of the field of photography – often lessons using the female body as subject.  Sometimes I’d find an app that came close but was artistically so lame I’d be embarrassed to show it as an example to my students. I did discover some beautiful sophisticated apps (Back in Time) but could not seem to find the combination of creativity and technical lessons I want. I’d say an exciting time for me was when I realized that maybe what I really want is mini etextbook?  I love the idea of replacing our textbook with lesson formats that show what I’m talking about rather than just talk about them. I also love the idea of creating the content so it is always up-to-date and relevant. Our textbooks seem out-of-date even after researching them in January and using them in September.

Another big challenge was that we have 3G internet access at our house in the country so I only searched when I was near wi-fi – while at Parkland I always had something else pressing to do it seemed so often my time was in little bits.

In hindsight I would have approached this semester differently. I came in with a clear idea of what I needed and wanted and spent all my time pursuing it. I wish I had come in with more “play” in mind – I might have stumbled on an idea. I will still keep working on this but now I’ll do it through my phone or laptop I guess? Now like most people- I wish I had more time...

Friday, April 20, 2012

RSS Feeds

By far, my favorite app for the iPad is Flipboard. Flipboard is a little difficult to describe. It takes the web and puts it into a magazine looking format where headlines and a paragraph of three to four “articles” are displayed on each page. If you want to see the entire article you can touch it on the screen and it will launch in the full screen. Flipboard integrates content from a variety of sources. You can choose from news,(money, sports, technology) social media(facebook, twitter, blogs) and other content providers(magazines). The format of Flipboard is amazing, but what makes it so powerful is the amount of content you can integrate into it. The line between work and recreation is completely removed as I jump from articles about alternative energy to sports to facebook. One of the reasons Flipboard can integrate so much content is its ability to tap into RSS feeds. Many sites including blogs, magazine publishers and reviewers produce RSS feeds and you can tap into them with Flipboard and in other ways. The learning management system Heidi and I have been using this semester, edmodo, has the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds. I’m hoping that Desire2Learn will be able to do this as well. RSS feeds allow you to continually incorporate current content on specific topics into your course. If you teach a topic that is changing so rapidly that textbooks can’t keep up, you may consider using RSS feeds to augment the content in your course. It can sometimes be a little tricky to figure out the url for a particular feed, but with a little online searching I have been able to find everyone that I’ve looked for.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Geometry App Idea

I found a lot of apps that calculate area and volume, but none that demonstrate where the formulas come from. So that's my app idea!

To make a manageable app, I was thinking one that demonstrates finding the volume of a prism. Ideally it would allow the user to choose different base shapes, but that might be too big the first time around. So maybe just rectangular or triangular the first time around.

For example: A rectangular prism

The user would input the units (cm) and the dimensions of the base: 6 x 2, and the app would demonstrate finding the area of one "layer" to fill the prism. It would draw a layer of 12 blocks (or one rectagular layer that is 6 x 2), 1 unit high, and show that the area of the base is 12 square cm.

Then it would ask for the height of the prism: 3. It would build the prism by adding two more layers on, for a total of 3, then show that to get the volume, the area of the base is multiplied by 3 to get 36 cubic cm.

If there were time, it would be awesome to have a menu at the beginning allowing the user to choose other shapes for the base: triangle, hexagon, even circles. But each would require separate programming because each would need different input dimensions to find the area of the base (triangle needs base and height, hexagon needs side and apothem, etc).

This could really continue semester after semester, to add pyramids/cones (which is a neat visual where you show that 3 pyramids fit in a prism), and even move on to surface area.

I've got another idea about showing how to find the area of a hexagon by dividing it into triangles. Could give more details if desired.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ap Idea

I am wondering about a multiuse-template ap for use with language based skills such as ESLacademic vocabulary, spelling, use of prefixes and suffixes, etc. The templates would be reuseabl eso that multiple exercises could be developed for training class-specific material. For example, the template could have formats such as matching, or word search, quiz, or crossword selections for which the user could enter target vocabulary and store/save/use it. However, the user could reuse the same formats to enter new vocabulary or material as the students advance through a course. The templates could also be used at different levels. Potentially, this could be used for many different areas besides language skills.

Android Apps in Mathematics and Humanities

In case someone is trying to cull something helpful from all of this and looking for something specific, let me give you a quick intro to what I teach and what classes I had in mind when using the tablet this semester.  I teach in both the Mathematics Department and the Humanities Department.  The math class I had this semester was MAT 134, Technical Mathematics, and so that was the class I mostly had in mind when thinking about math apps.  In the Humanities Department I teach courses on western civilization and philosophy (the introductory logic course).      

I found the post on Socrative helpful.  I have already downloaded it and am going to try to experiment with it today in class.  The post mentioned that it had not worked as well with a droid device, but so far in my testing of it I haven’t discovered any problems. 

Though it’s not particular to any subject matter, I discovered both Dropbox and Evernote as a result of searching for apps.  Yeah, I know, welcome to the 21st century – I felt like the last one to discover these (and of course you can use them without a tablet).  I found both of them helpful in their own ways.  Dropbox is the one I could envision using more for classroom purposes.  It has some redundancy with Angel if you are simply using it for students to submit work or to distribute files to students, but the area where it could be more useful than Angel is for collaborative work. 
The particular apps I found interesting pertaining to math, especially technical mathematics, were Smart Measure and GraphingCalculator.  Smart Measure calculates distances using the camera feature on the device and some basic math.  If I knew that all my students had access to a tablet or smartphone I would build a lesson plan in trigonometry using this app.  Once they know how it works, it could be a useful job-site app for many of my students who go on to work in construction or surveying-related trades.

The Graphing Calculator is just what it sounds like.  It may sound unnecessary, but since we don’t require graphing calculators for MAT 134, yet there are frequent occasions when it would be quite helpful, it provides a cheap (free!) way to get a basic graphing calculator for any student who has a tablet or smartphone.

In the Humanities, I found many apps that looked promising initially but turned out to be quite unhelpful.  Two exceptions were Art Academy and the promise of eBooks.  Art Academy allows students to explore various paintings or painters in an interactive way, and with greater detail than we can do just by looking at pictures I can show on the screen from a computer.  There are various platforms and ways to access ebooks, but in general it could be a way to assign more reading in certain books knowing that they won’t have to fight over limited access to books on reserve on the library.

Two challenges I’ve seen are (a) not all students have tablets or smartphones, and (b) for every good and useful app there must be ten that either don’t work or don’t do anything interesting. It takes time to sort through the garbage to find good apps.

If I could have more time with a tablet, I would like to either try some of the same (or similar) apps on an iPad for comparison, or integrate tablets into the whole course from the beginning of the semester.  Particularly now with the discovery of Socrative, I would like to think of more ways to use that in the classroom (for example, there is an “Exit Ticket” feature that would be helpful for immediate assessment).

I have three ideas for “mini-apps”:
1.       Math – something that uses GPS to mark where students are at different points, then calculates distances, angles, etc.  But not in a way that does all the work, but rather in a way that walks students through the process so that it can be used as a hands-on lesson in geometry or trig applications for something like surveying.
2.       Math – a graphing calculator that can use a logarithmic scale as well as a linear scale.  
3.       For Philosophy (logic and reasoning) – something where the instructor (or students) can clip comments or summarize arguments they find in current news stories and put them in a central location; from which either groups of students or individuals can later work through an assessment of those statements (or, access it during class and go over some examples with the whole class). 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Socrative can replace classroom clickers

I've been playing with a few new apps in class, trying to get the students to use their ipads more.

I did a lecture on pesticides and pesticide alternatives, and had them pull up an app from the Environmental Working Group called Dirty Dozen.  This app lists the top 12 food crops that scientific research has shown to have the most pesticide residues, and the top 15 "cleanest crops".  Students looked through the information in this app, then I had them take an in-class clicker quiz through the wifi and an app called Socrative.

I have to install the Teacher Socrative app, and students install the Student Socrative App. You are assigned a unique virtual room number.  Then, you can design a quiz beforehand, or make a question on the spot in Teacher Socrative (you can do this on the computer, iPad, or Android).  In class, you can either open Teacher Socrative on your mobile device, and begin the quiz, or pull the quiz up on the computer so it shows on a screen through the LCD projector.

Students open Student Socrative, write your virtual room number, and you push each question to the students through the wifi. They respond, and you can see the results (anonymously) in the classroom.

Curtis and I tried Socrative last semester with the Acer tablets, but it didn't work very well (wifi and maybe antennae issues?).  This semester with the iPads, it is smooth sailing!  Here come the pop quizzes!

Linked Classroom Update- Should we require mobile devices?

I haven't posted about the linked Biology/Physics class for a while, because it is all going so smoothly with the tablets, that there is nothing new and exciting to post except that, "Today, everything worked".  I think we could be using them a little more, but there are simply not a lot of generic enough educational apps to pull in one everyday.  I do have a few things I thought I should report on, since the semester is coming to a close.

1) We did an anonymous midterm evaluation, and the students use their iPads almost daily for all sorts of things, which is exactly what Curtis and I were hoping for.  They all want to keep the devices, and see them as useful, which is good as I want to require these as an instructional material more and more everyday. I like to say that I've outgrown the typical classroom technology.

2) Students complained a little bit about using both Angel and Edmodo (a different secure course management system for K-12 that we used because it has a web interface, iOS app, and android app), so Curtis and I started primarily using Edmodo. It has just enough features to be very useful inside and outside the classroom (interactive calendar for due dates, discussions in a facebook-like stream, assignments that can be turned in and graded through Edmodo, and quizzes with T/F, MC, short answer, and fill-in-the-blank question formats).  It's been much easier to redesign assignments just for the Edmodo platform, and I think the students have responded well to having everything in one accessible place. If D2L doesn't have as slick of a mobile interface, I might end up just using Edmodo for all of my classes in lieu of a combination of D2L and Facebook.

Today I used Edmodo in class, something I hadn't done. I had students look at a book of photos from around the world, then open an Edmodo quiz and answer the questions about one photo. It was a nice way to avoid paper, but have them take notes that I can easily obtain.  Some of the apps have been unable to send notes and drawings easily.

3) We are having the students design "virtual posters" on the iPads for the Natural Sciences Poster Session.  We'll see what their creative minds come up with. I am curious if we can get a prezi to work on the ipad. Anyone tried it?

4) I also found a great document app, docAS lite.  You can annotate pdf (and I think doc) on the lite version, but you can't send any annotations without the full version. If I could keep my iPad, I would definitely purchase the full version!  This app can pull documents from google docs, but you can't annotate them.

I feel like the wifi upgrade, Edmodo, and just a little experience have really made a difference in how I teach with the tablet in class.  I wish we could do the pilot one more semester so I could get rid of all the hiccups from this semester.  Again, maybe I'll just start requiring devices instead of textbooks.  Any thoughts/opinions on that?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mindjet (app for Android & iOS)


This app is available for both Android and iOS (ipod touch/iphone/iPad).
I think this app could be helpful for students brainstorming ideas for essays in a range of English courses (099-102).  You create a central 'bubble' in the app and then add related areas that can have their own ideas connected to them.  Attached lists can be collapsed to give a simplified view.  The app does not require active wifi, but maps can be shared over the network.

So far students have had a chance to use Mindjet in class and during proposal meetings.  Students will have one additional opportunity to use Mindjet during report meetings when we go over full drafts of their report.

What I have learned so far:

Mindjet use varied widely among students.  Some students created detailed bubble maps planning out the parts of their report.  Other students expressed reservations about the program and preferences for more traditional outlining.

Using a tablet during an individual student meetings is challenging.  During a typical meeting with a student I may be writing quick notes, comments on draft materials, answering question, and referencing handbook information on MLA style.  Quickly doing these range of activities is still easier for me without a tablet.

I'm curious to see if Mindjet is as useful for some students in the revision stage.  I should have more feedback about these last draft meetings just before finals.

Support Materials for Mindjet

As a part of preparing for using Mindjet in the classroom I gathered a couple of web resources to introduce the program.  I am including the urls along with how I introduced the application and tablet in class.

How Bubble Mapping can be used

This first link comes from the Purdue Online Writing Lab and describes how a bubble map can be used to help brainstorm and outline for a writing assignment.  I briefly mentioned some of the information in class and referenced the link.

Make a Bubble Map (bubbl.us)

The second link is a web based bubble map creation tool.  I displayed the tool on the projector and briefly showed students how it worked.

Some class time was provided to review the information and experiment with the web based bubble map program.  Students were later provided with time during a different class period to use the android tablet and Mindjet program.

Monday, April 9, 2012

1) What have you found most interesting and/or useful in your use of the tablet thus far?

The favorite app for my CNA students has been a review of CNA certification exam. The app is easy to use and can be set as review or test. I have a few international students, they really like the practice with multiple choice questions.
I played you.tube clips on measuring blood pressure for individual students...although this is easily accomplished with the classroom computer and projector.

2) What challenge(s) have you experienced or do you foresee?

I found it time consuming to sort through multiple pages of apps to find one I thought would help my students.
I think it would be great if every student could have one. Must be able to have quality wireless reception. I could use the tablet easily at home, not as easily on campus.

3) What do you plan to explore or try out next?

I also encouraged my students to use the camcorder to record them practicing a skill in the lab and then they could review their performance and critique themselves using the skill guidelines. None of them wanted to do this; I would need to make this an assignment next time.

4) Describe (briefly) one idea for a "mini-app" that you'd like to have developed for you/your students

I would like to have a 'what's wrong with this picture' app that would show a nursing home setting with the ability to add safety risks. For example, the resident would be shown in bed, but the call light was not in reach or the brakes on the bed were not set. Students would then identify the risks. The app would allow administrator to select scenarios and 'risks' or 'errors' from a large menu, or to add their own.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

1) What have you found most interesting and/or useful in your use of the tablet thus far?
The most interesting use that I just discovered was Ike's anatomy/physiology quiz he built from e-learning software. When I asked the students what kind of apps they would like to use, they suggested touch apps regarding anatomy and use of the anesthetic machine. This type of e-learning software would be excellent for the Vet Tech program.

I did download an applications with sample questions for the NVTE (national veterinary technician examination). In my rotation classes, we spent a class answering the questions as a group. It did give me the idea that these students would benefit from a rotation designed to study for the national exam and how to logic through answering these questions.

2) What challenge(s) have you experienced or do you foresee?
Weeding through all the medical type apps to find one useful was the most challenging. This take alot of time. Still have some issues with wireless connection in the L wing but it does seem to be better. I am kind of a "lurcher" in this pilot study.....I have been using my personal iPad (original version) which will not connect to classroom projectors so that limited my use.

3) What do you plan to explore or try out next?

E-learning software. Is there any basic, low-cost options to start?

4) Describe (briefly) one idea for a "mini-app" that you'd like to have developed for

An app that practices identifying the parts of an anesthetic unit.

Monday, April 2, 2012

1) What have you found most interesting and/or useful in your use of the tablet thus far?
 The ease of transporting the tablet and using it in the classroom.  The tablet is much easier to bring into the classroom and use.  Students can gather around the tablet easier for group work.  It is also much easier to work with a student on the tablet than a typical computer as it can be easily angled so everyone can see what is on the screen.

2) What challenge(s) have you experienced or do you foresee?
The biggest challenge I have faced is navigating the Android Market.  There are so many different applications and the organization just does not seem to make sense to me.  I think I've been pretty spoiled as a daily iPad user.  I find the Apple App store to be so much easier to use.  One way I have tried to deal with the difficulty of finding apps is by doing web searches.  Basically I've been looking for lists of 'top' apps.  Then I can follow the link provided.

3) What do you plan to explore or try out next?
The first app that I found (Mindjet) really works well for students that are visual learners.  I am going to try and find an app that might work well for other types of learners.

4) Describe (briefly) one idea for a "mini-app" that you'd like to have developed for you/your students.
A sentence diagramming app would be really useful.  There is currently one for iOS, but I have not been able to find anything for Android.  See here for more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I have been learning a lot through this study. First, although I have used course sites on an intranet prior to this study, I find I have very little knowledge of the current technology - smart phones and tablets in particular. As a technology wimp, I have appreciated the opportunity to “play” with the tablet. At first, I wondered why a tablet would be valuable. How would it be different than a laptop computer, except  more portable? I have found and downloaded aps for my private tutoring, as well as for classroom uses. I have set up the icons and contents in a way that is easy to find for me. (Now, when I have to turn in the tablet, I will miss it.) I have identified what I think are some pros and cons; however, these will likely seem very basic for those of you with significant IT experience!
1.       Pros:
a.       First, it is much faster to access the internet than a laptop.
b.      I located a free trial of Office Suite Pro with MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint. The full version now is $19.98 (it seems to me the day I downloaded it, it was $9.99). Anyway, this would allow word processing on the tablet, which will almost eliminate my need to carry the laptop.
c.       During the Mobile Aps in the Classroom presentation, we learned how to connect the iPad to the projector in smart classrooms. This would allow the teacher to use his/her tablet to show the entire class, meaning not every student would need their own tablet. This is a limitation only in that not all classrooms are smart classrooms. It would seem that the more technology we want to use in the classroom, smart classroom capability will be needed in more classrooms.
2.       Cons:
a.       I must have fat fingers. I have to be VERY careful when making a selection. Even with care taken, I still get the line under the one I want. Fortunately, I can go back quickly, but it is still kind of a pain.
b.      Not all aps work off line
c.       Searching for appropriate aps does take time. Sharing with others in the same department would be very helpful, especially if someone in the department does have more experience with the technology. For example, I had tried to find a document creating ap. However, my search was ineffective because I didn't know a specific-enough search term. When working with a tech person, we found the Office Suite ap quickly.
d.      Grammar aps: there are many grammar aps for ESL learners, but some are written by other ESL learners. Not all of these are good. Some contain grammar errors.Sorting the good from the bad, in spite of positive reviews and downloads, adds to the time it takes to find something useful.
e.      While I am appreciating the concept of the tablet, this project is showing me that perhaps the iPad is more user friendly and has more features.
f.        After using the tablet, I am becoming more comfortable with it. However, early on, I was frustrated by the lack of intuitiveness. I kept trying to use it like a laptop – I kept looking for how to close a file, for example.
3.       Since other teachers are like me (I believe … hope…  guess…), transition to use of technology in the classroom will need ongoing support for teachers. During this pilot project, we are having monthly meetings to answer questions and learn more. This kind of session will be necessary for those without much experience to gain it, and for the rest to continue to advance their skills. Learning the devices does take time. Searching the aps does take time.But, the more I use it, the more I want to do with it; therefore, the more questions I keep coming up with. 

Articulate Storyline - Beta Testing

Over the last two years I have been tinkering with an E-learning authoring software called Articulate Studio. With it you can create non-linear Powerpoint based lessons,quizzes and surveys. The software would publish your content in a flash based output.

With the surge of iOS and mobile computing, the company is evolving to publishing in iOS and HTML5 as flash is being relegated in the mobile computing world. I was fortunate to be invited to the Beta testing phase of the "evolving product" now called StoryLine (SL).

I have found it to be very flexible in creating custom made exercises/lessons for both the web(PC/MAC) and mobile devices. Rather than searching for the right free app to provide my students with the content I want them to know or I want to test them on, I simply build the presentation or quiz. The students in turn can access the material; through the web (posted link using dropbox/angel) using a PC/MAC/iOS or Android device; download the iOS Articulate player app to enjoy unlimited interactivity with the material using an iPad.

Here is a sample for an anatomy and physiology practice quiz I built:

  1. For web browser click Web access
  2. For unlimited iPad access first download the the Mobile articulate player, then iOS access

I envision a paperless class can be built entirely by using SL or Studio for cross-platform student access.

Let me know what you think and the possible potential applications to your course!?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

So far, so good

So far, I'm having much better luck finding IPad apps than I did last semester looking for good Android apps. I'm focusing on statistics and geometry in my search. For statistics, I've found one that calculates normal probabilities--similar to my Android app idea from last semester. I'm finding several promising apps for geometry. One graphs equations with a slider to demonstrate what changing certain coefficients will do to the graph. Several calculate volume and area, but I'm looking for one that demonstrates it in a visual way for educational purposes rather than just cranking out the value. The hunt continues...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Top 10 Android Apps for College Students

I came across this list today as I was searching for educational Android apps. Have any of you used these apps? I hear a lot about Evernote so I'm planning to install it on my phone today (available for both iPad/iPhone and Android).

There's a free flashcard app and a few others that are productivity and study skills focused. Check them out and let us know what you think!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

What have you found most interesting and/or useful in your use of the tablet thus far?

From my earlier entries it would be obvious that I am enjoying my discovery of Box.com. I am not sure if it is the  free 50Gb or its potential for classroom use that is making me feel giddy.

I build alot of flash based E-learning modules, quizzes and interactions that help make the models available to my anatomy students anywhere they have internet access.

The cross-platform nature of Box.com has allowed me to access my documents stored in it from the android tablet on loan to me, an ipad, and an Iphone as well as the web. This will more than cover the majority of devices students might have to gain access to material posted within Box.com

Size makes a difference. However seamless and pain free Dropbox is, we are limited to 2Gb of which I am painfully close to using up. I find myself deleting or moving other files just to allow new material to fit. Box.com will more than take care of storage needs though the granting of access to others is somewhat clunky compared to Dropbox.

Update: Free 50GB cloud storage for android devices.

As promised, I mentioned I would take a closer look into Box.com. So far it has been quite fruitful and has potential for classroom use.

1) It mimics the sandbox(dropbox) feature in Angel. You can create folder and assign collaborators to each. The collaborators can be assigned different levels of use  from being editors to viewers etc.
Students can be invited to view documents , videos or links etc stored in a created folder. They would receive emails with a link to the folder or you could copy the link and send it manually by email etc. Permission, access and security can be set for files and folders.

2) If one has a heavy use of  youtube, videos, links etc in their course or would receive documents from students, Box.com does look like it can fulfill that niche with its free features. In essence, it could serve as a great collaborative base or a tranche of extra material for students to access outside of Angel/black board.

3) If WiFi or internet is limited or sketchy for the student or instructor, they could download the Box.com app to an Android device, or iphone, Ipad etc and through the app, be able to download specific documents for offline viewing.

4) Did I mention that you could also install a Box.com add.in (extension) to Office 2010. With it, you can directly create and save, share or open Office documents to folders in Box.com ( straight to cloud) without a browser. Screenshot: http://www.box.com/s/8nrf9btjn1qygslmci9s

I guess it is pretty obvious that on closer inspection I got bitten by the Box.com bug!

Ike Nwosu

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Free 50GB cloud storage for android devices.

I recently came across Box.com through a friends recommendation. They are offering 50GB free for life to any one with an android device who registers on their website or through an android app.

I haven't explored the features yet but from reviews I have read, it doesn't have the magic that Dropbox has. However, I couldn't pass on 50GB free storage for life. Who knows one day I might have a need for it.

One can always upgrade for a monthly fee to enjoy additional features, even then, I doubt it comes close to the functionality and simplicity Dropbox.

There is one catch though, as a marketing tool, they will access your contacts list  (from your gmail account) but will not store the contact information on their servers. They want to mine email addresses I guess, to spread the word. I had no problem with this as I set up a new email account to access the android market place. I don't have any contacts stored in this email account.

Enough for now, if you want to take advantage do soon: This promotion ends on Friday, March 23, 2012 at 11:59pm PST


Ike Nwosu

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Idea Sketch" Flow Charts

"Idea Sketch", http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idea-sketch/id367246522?mt=8  an app that I found on the iPad, has allowed me to abandon the usual paper flow chart I use in the classroom to have students make a flow chart in a system.  For example, I usually have students read an excerpt from a nature journal and have them make a flow chart of the food web that is written about. To make the flow chart, students get a piece of paper with the names of the organisms in the journal excerpt. Students cut out the names and arrange them on the desk or table.

Idea Sketch works so much better for this activity. I created an "idea" with the names of the organisms in colored shapes on the screen. I sent the idea to each of my students via email, and they could open the idea, move the shapes around their screens, put arrows between them, and send the idea or a jpg of the flow chart they made back to me via email. I can grade each individual's food web outside of class, and do this without paper!

I have also made ideas using this app for pollution production from various energy sources where students had to add their own shapes with different pollutants, and I will use it to help students investigate product life cycles, and learn the order of the steps in wastwater treatment. I can probably use this app in every topic I cover because so much of the content I cover is systems- or process-based.

I used a flow chart app last semester for the android, but there was no ability to communicate the flow charts among individual iPads. With Idea Sketch, I can create a flow chart template, send it out, and grade each student's final product easily.

I have used this app in the classroom for group work, and have sent them an idea to take home for homework.

As Curtis mentioned earlier, this app works just fine without wifi, so students can work on their flow charts outside of class. They only need wifi to get the idea from me, and send me their final products.

Can we have this app on the android, too?!?!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Spring Pilot Pre-Survey

Thanks to all who have completed the pre-survey so far. Here are some statistics from 11 participants:
6 Female
5 Male

45% are between 51-60
27% are between 41-50
27% are between 31-40

45.5% have 5 years teaching experience at Parkland
18% have 6-10 years teaching experience...
9% have 11-15 years teaching experience...
2% have 20-25 years...
1% has 25+ years...

9% rated their basic technology skills as "adequate"
36% rated their basic technology skills as "good"
54% rated their basic technology skills as "very good"

18% rated their feeling of using a new piece of technology in traditional classroom as "neutral"
45.5% excited
36% very excited

9% claimed they were "anxious" about using new technology in the online environment
18% are "neutral"
54% are "excited"
9% are "very excited"

45.5% of participants are "very comfortable" using a mobile tablet
36.4% "comfortable"
18.2% "neutral

5 people own a mobile tablet
6 people do not own a tablet

Of those who own a tablet:
40% use it 1-2 times a day
40% use it 5-10 times a day
20% use it more than 10 times a day

54% of participants think their basic computer skills will improve using a tablet
45% answered no to the question

The list of ways faculty anticipate using the tablet for teaching:
A link to the net
A way to draw on the screen
Mobility in the classroom
Using applications
Storing photographs to show students
Using key note and pages
Finding apps that student can use to learn course content better
Interactivity to reiterate ideas and concepts taught in class
Use tablet to review course materials
Grade and respond to course work electronically
Primarily as instructor demonstrating apps since not all students will have device
As a way to provide feedback and drafts with students
To show media files
To communicate with students more easily
Expose students to several apps that relate to design and specifically typography
Increase ways to connect to students
Advanced knowledge of training materials
Test new products
Introduce students to new products

Kim Pankau

Monday, February 6, 2012

WARNING: No wifi Ahead

When choosing apps, especially for the mobile classroom, apps that do not require wifi access 100% of the time are very valuable. Learning often happens outside the classroom. It happens in an outdoor lab, a class fieldtrip or just students reflecting on course material as they go about their day. Students may also want to digest some of the course material during some free time, but when they don’t have wifi access. The concept of apps started with smartphones, which are devices that are connected to the internet almost 100% of the time. However, 65% of tablets in general and 75% of iPads are wifi only. Apps specifically made for tablets seem to be aware of this and often provide “offline” content and functionality. The apple app store does a good job of separating iPad apps from iPhone apps so you can easily choose only apps designed for the tablet platform. However, the Android market does not make this distinction. This often makes it difficult to find apps that don’t require full time wifi access. We encountered this issue several times last semester, especially when using Google docs. However, a new update to the Android Google docs app now allows for offline editing. I’m sure this trend will continue as developers realize that users want to use their devices even when they don’t have wifi. Please respond to this post with any useful apps that you have found that don’t require wifi access.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Give an App!

You can buy apps and give them as a gift to other people. If you go into iTunes from a computer or the App Store on an iOS device and go to a particular app, one of the options it gives you is to "gift this app." You can give the same app to several people at one time by just typing in their email address. They will be sent an email with instructions on how to redeem the app. This is a great way to give students an app you want them to use in the classroom if it is not free. However, you will get charged for each email you send an app to, whether or not they actually redeem the app. Also, you cannot use iTunes credit to gift apps. You must use a "funding source," usually a credit card.

Ratings can be Misleading

When searching for an app on the iPad, I usually sort apps by “Customer Rating.” More often than not, if an app gets terrible customer ratings, it is not worth trying. However, some of the apps we are using in the classroom are bucking this trend. An example of this is the “Documents” app we have been using. This app allows you to view and edit many types of files including text files and spreadsheets. It can download and upload files to and from Google Docs and you can also attach a file to an email. Google Docs allows multiple users the ability to modify files in real time. This is great for some situations, but not for the classroom. First of all you always need internet access and second of all it is a pain to share documents with students because you have to create a separate document for each student or group. By using Google Docs to share files, we only have to create one document and share it with the entire class. This is easy to do once you have your students set up in a group in your contacts. Then the “Documents” app allows students to download their own version of the file and modify it without having internet access. Once they modify the file, they can email it to the instructor for grading. This is working well for our needs. However, this app gets terrible reviews in the app store. You can imagine why: what makes it useful for the classroom, makes it a pain to the individual user. In order to move documents from your desktop to the iPad, you need to first upload it to Google docs and then download it to the iPad. Then you need to reverse the process or email the document back to yourself to get it back on your computer. This process is not acceptable to the average user and thus it gets bad reviews.

Note: The “Documents” app does actually provide a pretty nice way to move files back and forth from the iPad. As long as you are connected to wifi the app will provide you with a URL to type into your browser that gives your direct access to the files on the app. You can upload or download files. This feature is not very intuitive so I imagine many users miss it.

Note2: There is a free version and a $0.99 version of the app. So far, one difference we have noticed between the two is that the free version limits a spreadsheet to 11 columns and 50 rows. The $0.99 version seems to be unlimited.