Tuesday, July 31, 2012

iLe@rn with Mobile Devices - iPad3 - Module 3

Before I get into the details of this blog post you may have noticed that the title looks different than my previous entries. Yes? No? Here's a hint - the numbers are different. Not just on the number of the module, but on the iPad as well. I have managed to get my hands on an iPad three, not permanently, unfortunately. I am already addicted to the clearer retina display and the better quality camera. The differences end there for me at the moment (until I have more time to play) unless you also include the longer battery life, but I suspect that has more to do with the age of the two iPads. Another interesting note is that the Chrome browser on the iPad is unable to download the course materials into iBooks.

The iLe@rn App Framework

For the purpose of this post I have been investigating the iLe@rn App Framework and how it can be used to help select and evaluate Apps for learning.

Of course there are many apps out there but not all of them are engaging and / or encourage higher order thinking. One area in particular I know my students could improve on is in their reflective skills. I teach Visual Arts as well as Information and Software technology and Multimedia, all subjects which lend themselves to project based work and require students to reflect on what they and others have done and achieved. I require all students in these subjects to keep blogs or digital journals and this fits in perfectly with the Reflective Skills section of the iLe@rn App Framework.

I have seen an improvement in students' communication skills by moving to using Google Sites to record the progress of their work but they still struggle with writing reflective statements. I am going to trial using the iMovie App, the camera and voice record on the iPad to allow students to respond in a form other than writing.

For my own teaching I love using neu.annotate+ to write on student work to provide formative feedback. I am able to take a photo of a student's art work or project and add typed and hand written notes as well as use shapes and symbols to annotate and provide feedback and suggestions. Where I would like to go to now is have students do the same on their own work and that of others. Many of the boys I teach are forever looking for new ways to use technology so the plan is to engage students with the device and Apps and they will improve their learning despite themselves.

The activity in Module 3 that I spent the most time working through and gained the most from was the section linking apps to the sections of the iLe@arn Apps Framework. I have come to the conclusion that there are some aspects of learning that some students will always rebel against. A major area of contention, especially with boys is reflection and yet it needs to be done to cement learning and improve. Mobile devices and Apps by their nature engage those reluctant learners and while sometimes the apps may not tick all the boxes in the evaluation scaffolds, they at least start the ball rolling.  

Evaluating Apps

The video below shows an app that was made by one of my Year 10 IST student a few years ago. It's not world breaking but the aim was for him to learn how to use X-Code and he was very proud of what was achieved. It would have been really handy for Paul to have had access to an App Evaluation scaffold like  Kathleen Shrock's CRITICAL EVALUATION OF AN IPAD/IPOD APP  to help him build the concept, before even beginning the build.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

iLe@rn with Mobile Devices - iPad 2 - Module 2

The second module has been all about learning how to use Safari and looking at some of the built in Apps. Much of the information about Safari I was already familiar with since it is the built in App that I have used the most over the past year. I also share my iPad with family (at little as possible I might add) so have had to set up bookmarks as the pages in Safari are rarely the same when I return to the iPad. One thing I did learn was turning on private browsing, I was unaware that the default setting is to 'Off'.

Other settings I changed were for the Twitter App. It is now a lot easier to send a tweet using the drop down menu in Safari. A colleague @jonesnatalie told me quite a while about the ability to tweet direct from photos but I have been too busy, or lazy, or forgetful to set it up.

It now is.

Another task that was part of Module 2 was to read the iPad manual. There is a section on taking photos and videos, how to edit, where they are located and how to share them between devices. One of the subjects I teach is Visual Arts and for all year groups there's a Blog Assessment task. When students are in the thick of art making they tend to not have as much time and/or opportunity to take photos of the progress of their work to include in their blog. I have in past used the iPad to take photos and videos of their work, downloaded these to my computer and then uploaded to a Google Site they could all access. Although it makes total sense I had not thought about emailing the files directly to students from the iPad.

I will be doing so from now on.

Oh, and the other thing is I am now using an iPad 3 to complete this course and would like to share that ePubs do not work in Chrome, I have had to use Safari to download the course modules. There are a few things that don't work the way they should in Chrome so I assume it the software at fault.

Monday, July 2, 2012

iLe@rn with Mobile Devices - iPad 2 - Module 1

I have registered for a course that is run by The Sydney Catholic Education Office to learn more about my iPad. The Course Introduction states its purpose as being 'intended to support teachers to become familiar with the iPad as an effective tool for learning and to apply the iLE@RN model to mobile learning opportunities' . I have had my iPad for over a year and registered for the course mainly because I am my school's eLearning Coordinator and in the past have found it easier to support staff when I have completed the same courses. And as usual, there are quite a few staff at the College registered for the iLe@rn with Mobile Devices course; they are amazingly technology keen!

However, after completing just the first module I have found some new functions that I was not aware of before, although I have seen my two year old daughter working them out! The main area that interested me in Module 1 were the activities about iBooks.

I'm an avid reader of the Crime and Thriller genre and have been pleased to find that most of my favourite authors like John Connolly, Mo Hayder, Brian Freeman and Ian Rankin have published ebooks. I now prefer (when I get the chance, which is not very often) reading books on the iPad rather than hard copies and one tool I have discovered through Module 1 is using collections to keep my eBooks and PDFs better organised. I use my own iPad in class and being able to place texts for students in a  collection specifically made for them helps to keep my personal life at a distance from work.

Another handy tip I have picked up is using the 'Define' option in iBooks and today it helped me to find out that Scouser is a noun for a person from Liverpool. It is handy to have this function within that app and for students using iBooks it would help them to stay on task by not having to exit the app to find a definition. It was so very quick, easy and helpful.

I also really like the function of being able to add and edit notes. I often use Stickies on my computer and Post it Notes in real life. They are handy for providing context and could also be used to provide students with guidance on what they should 'do' with the selected text. Perhaps they could be guided to an activity to be completed or simply to posed a hypothetical question or situation to ponder with the aim of helping students to engage at a deeper level with the text.

Although I already know how to take photos and video taking screen shots is something new. I can see a use for students to use screen shots to record the progress of their work in many different subjects including TAS. Design portfolios are an important aspect of assessment and many students struggle with the idea of documenting. Using mobile technology is quick, easy, and engaging and may be the key to assisting struggling students record progress and processes.

Screen shot of the Blogger App I used to make some parts of this post.

My two children aged 5 and 3 love the iPad and each have their favourite apps that they are often using. I was unaware until recently that apps need to be closed and was surprised to find over 25 apps open. I have notice a bit of  lag with the iPad lately and now know why! With many of the apps closed the iPad is running like new, much to my chagrin as I was thinking it could be a good excuse for an iPad 3... oh well...