rAPPido Review: Dark London

Confession time: I love all things Victorian London. Except for actually wanting to live there – corsets? bustles? the stultifying Victorian morality? No thanks- I love the literature. I love the movies based in that time. I love the Jules Verne inspired sci-fi people now call Steam Punk. I love how the above morality had such a terrible dark side (Jack the Ripper anyone?)

But I especially love the literature.

Which brings me to an app I discovered quite by accident from the Museum of London to compliment their exhibit on Dickens’s London ( I wish I was going to London right now so I could go see it). Entitled Dickens’ Dark London, it is an “interactive graphic novel” that takes you on a tour of London through Dickens’ eyes. Apparently the old auteur was prone to night time meanderings in his fair city and wrote about it in a series called Sketches by Boz. This Graphic novel is inspired by this series.

So far, only the edition on the Seven Dials is available, but soon Newgate Prison and Gin shop will be available for download.

Dickens’ text is on the left side while the illustrations are on the right.

The illsutrations feature red dots that if tapped, give you snippets of information from the conditions of the slums, to miasma.

It aslo features an amazing map that shows where all of the graphic novel editions take place in London. If you slide the timeline bar, the map gradually transitions from 1862 to present day.

Now, before you think I was just goofing off on my iPad, I came across this app while researching another documentary project for the Grade 7s Historical Novels Unit. Although I can’t use it in our project, I think it would be invaluable in terms of giving students an idea of the seedy side of Victorian London.

More on the documentary project to come…

Friday Round Up: What they are saying about Apple’s Education Announcement

My Google alert for iPads in education was full to bursting this week with articles commenting on Apple’s Education Announcement  last Thursday. Here are a few of the more lively ones:

#1 for throwing punches right out of the gate: Apple’s Mind Bogglingly Greedy and Evil License Agreement by Ed Bott via ZDNet.

The man has a point. I’m just sayin’. If I am permitted to go all Cassandra on you this Friday morn, I would prophecy that Apple’s downfall will be their proprietary attitude and their unwillingness to play with others (compatibility issues, etc). And this is coming from a die hard Apple person. The only difference is that I believe that draconian license agreements such as this one is about as effective as teasing an eight foot drunken giant by stepping  on its toes. You do that, you gonna get swatted like a fly, yo.

#2 for its sheer boring glass sort of half-empty maybe: Why the iPad won’t transform education – yet by Sarah Kessler via Mashable.com

Read for the brief explanation of the way they etextbooks will be priced and distributed. She also brings up other issues such as broadband scarcity.

#3 for some of the only Canadian content on this issue, which really doesn’t give us anything but some hemming and hawing: Apple’s Role in Education: What Parents need to consider via Global News

When are we going to get some concrete news about a sensible distribution system for etextbooks via the iPad?



rAPPido Review: NFB’s Pixstops

NFB has done it again. Their new offering is an easy-to-use stop animation app that the most creatively challenged of us can figure out. I know because I tried it out yesterday right before going home, a time of day where my brain is usually not at its most brilliant. I hate afternoons. I am pro siesta.

But I digress.

I do that.

Price: free!

Stop animation in three steps:

Tap on create a new film.

2. Take your photos, and even add music from your itunes library! Then adjust the speed.

3.Send your film to your camera roll where you can then email it to yourself or uplaod it to youtube:

Here is my 12 frames per second attempt:

And here it is at 2 frames per second!

My only beef is that you can’t upload photos from your camera roll or the web- you have to take the photos you use in the app itself. But still- I can see this app having many uses in the classroom-let me know if you use it!

ibook Author – and Other Apple Announcements for Education

Allpe Ed Event logoGuest blogger: Beth Wall

Last week, Apple had an “Educational Event” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.  At the event they made 4 major announcements – the overall message of which is that Apple wants iPads in schools and they are supporting it by making it easier to deliver content in the classroom.

IBook 2 bookshelf

Announcement 1
iBooks2 was released. It is an update on iBook 1 and free. It will make books created with Apple’s new iBook format interactive on your mobile device.

This looks pretty much the same as iBook 1, but it has the added feature of being able to deal with the new interactive formatting.  This new formatting is proprietary to Apple, so books made for iBook2 won’t be readable on other ebook readers, however, iBook will still be able to read books in the standard ePub format.

Books made in the new format are STUNNING! Check out this free book:

Cover Art
E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth
Edward O. Wilson, Morgan Ryan & Gael McGill
Category: Life Sciences

Link to iBook Store or iTunes

Announcement 2
iBook Author released for computer for free.  This application give you the tools to create interactive books readable in iBook2.

This is an amazing app. You can create a book like the “Life on Earth”, but for that level of sophistication, you are going to have to hang out with the app for a long time and get to know it well.  For straightforward content it is easy enough to use – a combination of Pages and Keynote.  However, for the “SPLASH”, you need to read the help files and pay attention to detail.

The “Help” files are accessible through the application, but it is a pain to flip back and forth between them. Ideally you could have the instructions as a great visual ebook on your iPad while trying to play with the application.  To date no such book exists, so as a test, I tried to use the Apple “Help” files to create the iPad manual I wish I had. Here is my first attempt:

Not great, but something to work on.  I will post the final version when it is finished.

You can distribute these ibooks through the ibook store, either for sale or free.  All books will be reviewed by Apple.  You can also email them or create a repository and have links to them, but although Apple says you can do it in their instructions, they are very clear that any type of sales of your content must be done through the iBook store.  I can foresee some challenges to Apple in the near future over this restrictive policy.

Announcement 3
Apple has partnered with the 3 major text book publishers in the States (Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) to provide textbooks through Apple iBook store.  May of these text books will be in the ibook interactive format, and all should be $14.99 USD or less.

Unfortunately, this is only in the States!  We can expect that it will get to Canada eventually, but we are still waiting for educational pricing one year after the fact. We have a resident American at the school, so if you want to check out what texts are available and what they look like, ask to look at her iPad.

Announcement 4
The iTunes U  iPad App (also free) – This app is Apple’s shot at a content management system.  They want to provide a tool to allow schools to deliver whole classes though Apple U for free.  The initial push has been for universities, but they are opening up the scope to include K-12 courses.

With the iTunes U app you can download a course, and with it you will get the whole course content, not just video.  Courses are broken down by lecture, you have access to supplementary notes, assignments and links to support documents, and text books. On top of that, you can take your own notes that are stored with the course and can be shared via email or printing.

I had a few problems with the app freezing, and the selection of content flips you into the main iTunes app which was a little bizarre.

Sample course:  Content may not appeal to you, but I needed to find something I would look at.

    iPad and iPhone App Development (Fall 2011)

Apple is definitely after the educational market.

iPad Lab Help Students Get Perspective in Art Class!

The iPad lab has been borrowed more than your neighbour’s new lawn mower  this week and one of the ways it has been used is so simple and practical it needs to be showcased in this blog (I know. What prestige!).

Instead of having to spend half the class in the library studying this site about perspective drawing, then traipsing back to the art room to execute the techniques they’ve just witnessed, the artful Art teacher told me she has been using  the iPad lab. This way, the students can practice the technique with a ready reference at their side. Artful Art teacher told me it has saved her loads of time, as well as the students time, who had previously to go back to the library and look up the site, try to have the information sink in , then return to the art room to try and and execute the technique.

It just goes to show you, that it isn’t always about the fancy apps-sometimes just having easy, portable access to the internet can make a lesson so much easier.

Way to go artful Art teacher!

Follow AllthingsD’s Live Blog of Apple’s Announcement

Click AllthingsD to follow announcement- looks like ibooks2 is the big news as well as the interactive textbooks.

After a quick glance, I am interested in the pricing and wondering if this is just in the States or whether or not there is a Canadian contingent in on this Cornucopia of Awesome.

Here is the last statement from th blog:

So while video is rolling, let’s review: By far the most important announcement today is that Apple has partnered with three of the big textbook publishers. Don’t have details on that, but the fact that this isn’t a flat-out end-run around the textbook industry is crucial. Obvious parallel here is iTunes music launch in 2003, when Apple worked with the big labels instead.


Thanks Mr. Kafka! Oh and awesome name…


Wonderful Starter eTextbook for the iPad

If you haven’t had the chance to explore your iPad yet and feel a little overwhelmed,and not sure how to use it in the classroom,  there is a nice, little etextbook from the Department of Education and Early Childhood development,  State government of Victoria, Australia called Getting Started: Classroom Ideas for the iPad. It gives a preliminary guide to the iPad as well as  general ways to use the iPad in your class. Although it is  geared toward the younger grades, the ideas are general enough to be useful for any grade. In fact, I have mentioned many of them already!

iPad Use in the School this Week

The school week is only two days in and already the iPad lab has been used several times.


An intrepid English teacher borrowed the iPad lab in order to read MacBeth with her students. She used Macbeth 2.0 (by litcharts), where they give you  the original text on one side and the modern translation on the other:

Screenshot from website

Although it was very helpful, intrepid English teacher remarked on how it would be way more effective if the students were all using their own individual machines. Being able to take it home is important. As well, she remarked on how kids are attached to their class copies, as they have the benefits of years of past students writing notes in the margins. Hmmm. are kids supposed to be writing in books? My librarian senses are tingling.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the MacBeth text, with modern text could be integrated with an app that allowed people to take notes and share them instantly, sort of like a google doc? That would in some way recreate the effect of what I like to call the “Half Blood Prince” effect- you know-how Harry followed the instructions in the margins of his text book and not the official ones and totally rocked Potions until he used a spell that slashed his name from navel to neck.

Okay, so there are down sides…

However, I don’t see any note taking capability in Macbeth 2.0 and I think I remember English teacher confirming this…


When the library and the computer are both booked and your class needs to do research, what do you do? Book the iPad lab of course! The Grade elevens (I think) began their research for their World War II paper on the iPads this week.


Mr. Scruton has been busy busy busy, converting his math pages from flash to a more iPad friendly language. His latest is his transformations page:


Oratory Art is in the air and the iPad can help!

It just goes to show you how English lacks the panache of the French. Why call it the dull and let’s face it, terrifying, word “speech” when you could call it something as grand as “Art Oratoire”? Isn’t that something you want to live up to? Do you not want to be a master in the oratory arts?

Little known fact about me: though I was petrifyingly shy as a kid, I happened to be adept in the art of speechifying. In grade eight I even made it to the provincials (in fairness, it was art oratoire and the lack of actual french people in BC made this a much easier accomplishment than it sounds. Still, I got a free trip to Vancouver and a new outfit. I think my speech was on teen suicide.

But why all this talk of speeches you ask? Because the annual, oratory arts fest is beginning. And the iPad can help!

Full disclosure:  I took these apps from this presentation from Edudemic:

Idea Sketch

Get them idea mapping!

The crux of a good speech is the flow of ideas. Students can get a jump on organising  their thoughts with Idea Sketch.

Price: free

Here is the description from the website:

“Idea Sketch lets you easily draw a diagram – mind map, concept map, or flow chart – and convert it to a text outline, and vice versa. You can use Idea Sketch for anything, such as brainstorming new ideas, illustrating concepts, making lists and outlines, planning presentations, creating organizational charts, and more!”

In the spirit of the speech, I have decided to debate the subject of Public transportation: Public Good or Public evil?  I am taking the stand that it is a public evil.

Here is a general sketch of my ideas:

You can remove the arrows by swiping and the boxes by tapping and holding then moving with your finger.

You can also change the shape and colour of your boxes:

Once finished, you can email it to yourself, print it, save it to Photos or post to Facebook…

You can also see your mind map in a linear, hierarchical format:

Throw them a bone!


Price: Free

The main problem for me when confronting a speech is my abysmal memory (there is a reason I’m a librarian- can’t remember anything but know where to find it). i-prompt could potentially allow a student to perform her speech with little prompts.

However. I think it needs to be paired with a remote, which I don’t own so can’t test.

Here is how it looks on the screen:


Downside though- You can’t manually control the speed of the scroll and even at its slowest pace, it is still too fast to read. You can pause it by tapping the screen, but that would be jarring while having to actually deliver a talk…

Here are the options:


Record them!


Use imovie to record the students’ performance so they can see what they need to improve!


Inspire them!

Ted Talks

Show them how speech giving can be fascinating with the world of TED! Edudemics also has a link of 2011’s 10 best TEd Talks to share with Students.

And just for a bonus for getting through this novel length post, I will share with you one of my favourite Ted Talks by one of my favourite musicians and all round smart guy, David Byrne:


Any other ideas how the iPad can help in this oratory arts season?

Please share!