Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wifi is working and the ipads can run Angel!!!

Today was a successful tablet day in class! First, I think it's important to note that we have decided we don't have to use the tablets for EVERYTHING, like we were trying to do last semester. Ironically, as soon as we stopped worrying about it, everything works beautifully.

We had students using Edmodo to access course material and using the feed. All 7 students took two polls that Curtis posted since the last class, and we were able to use those anonymous data in class discussion.

I posted the url for an Ecological Footprint quiz that I use every semester, and all 7 students + Curtis and I were able to link to it, and take the quiz without any delay or concerns.

Curtis also discovered that if you switch Angel to PDA mode, that Angel works perfectly on the ipad. It's simple and plain, but that doesn't matter at all when it works! Most students chose to open the lecture powerpoint on their ipads and follow along.

Though we just used the tablets for enhancing lecture today, and doing a short activity, having the mobile devices in the hands of every student felt good.  A couple of Edmodo posts were made during lecture, which is what we want. It will probably take a few class periods to break the habit of not using your mobile device during class!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Spring Students get their ipads!

This semester we gave the students ipads. We wanted to try out this other common mobile device, see what we would need at the college to support them, and get a look at the Apple app store in order to have more ideas for Dave's app class.

So far, so good. Simply the fact that Curtis and I have been through this twice made our first day much more successful. We spent the entire day on the tablets...

...getting students signed up for an apple id, a google account, and an edmodo account. Curtis did a quick lesson in "How to use the ipad" to get everyone up to speed. I felt like everyone was really ready to go home and personalize their devices.

We stumbled upon a sort of mobile LMS called Edmodo . It's for K-12, has mobile apps for both apple and android, and seems incredibly user-friendly. We really liked the facebook-style discussion stream where we could post assignments, quizzes, alerts, as well as other typical facebook items.

After playing with it for a few days, we decided to use Edmodo for our courses this semester instead of try to rely exclusively on Angel. We will use Angel for the gradebook and to keep a record of all posted assignments.

Students don't seem particularly excited to have an ipad vs. an acer android tablet, though I will say there didn't seem to be as many "How do I make it do ____" questions as there were with the acers last semester (though that might be that we/Curtis didn't know the acer as well as the ipad). Of 7 students there today, 1 has no smart phone, 3 have iphones, and 3 have android smart phones.  I am going to query them later in the semester regarding which devices they are using to access Edmodo since it is available on every device!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wastewater treatment flow chart works well!

In the science class pilot, we studied the municipal wastewater treatment process (what happens to clean the water that goes down your shower drain and gets flushed down your toilet). For some reason, the steps of this process are often confusing to students, and I was hoping that using a flow chart app on the tablets would help our group of students understand the process better. I usually try to do some sort of lecture and activity prior to actually going to the wastewater treatment facility in hopes that the students will get more out of the tour.

My idea was to use a flow chart app, create a series of boxes that contain the steps of wastewater treatment, share the screen with students, have them put the steps in order and send their finished flow chart back to me. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a free flow chart app on the android that would let me share the steps I created with the students.

As a solution, I used a free app called lite
to design my steps, then I used a HDMI cable to hook up the tablet to a mobile LCD projector (our classroom LCD projector is too old, and doesn't have an HDMI port). One student manned the tablet and the class worked as a group to organize the steps and put arrows between them. It was a nice use of the tablet! The students could easily move the icons around the screen without needing a clunky computer/mouse. I was disappointed that I would need to buy the full version in order to share the incomplete flow chart I had created in, but I think it ended up working very well. The students understood the steps better that ever before because they worked as a group to figure out the steps.  I wish my classroom had an HDMI hookup; I would do more of these sorts of activities in all of my classes!