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...