Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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?

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