rAPPido Review: Goodreads

Good Reads

I know this will come as a shocker, but I am an avid reader.  I know. Do you need a minute to digest?

There. Better?

So I was thinking about what I was going to read for March Break. It takes careful planning you see. It can’t be something too heavy. Usually a nice fluffy series, or a mix of YA and Adult fiction. I have to get it just right.

Then I thought about how I was going to use the iPad during the break. How I am going on a whole bunch of minitrips and could use my iPad instead of my laptop.

But the problem is, I like to keep a list of all the books I’ve read. This is partly because I am a librarian with a bad memory and need something to remind me of what I’ve read so that I can then recommend the right title to the right person. It is also because I am obsessive and love lists.

So. I use two sites to keep track of my books. The first is Librarything, which I have been a member since 2007. The other is Goodreads. I only joined Goodreads because that is where the bookshelf for my Book Club lives, but I have since enjoyed its other many features.

I have been making half-hearted app searches to see if either one of these tools has come up with an App, and lo and behold, today I hit the jackpot! Though LibraryThing still has no iPad offering, GoodReads has a nice little app.

Price: free

If you don’t have an account already, it is very easy to create one:

Once you are signed in, you automatically arrive on the updates page. This shows you the activity in your community. As you can see below, my friends from across the country seem to be reading the new Murakami ( i have just downloaded it as an audiobook, so I am looking forward to some online discussion!):

The “My books” tab allows you to view the books in your library:

You can also sort your books in different ways:

This took a while to work- At first I was seeing random books from my library. I prefer to view them by the date I read them, but having the other options could be useful.

Weirdly enough, I’ve read several books between Montmorency and The Magician King. So I guess there are a few glitches, though I don’t think it is the app- I just went on the site and they seem to be having trouble at the time I am writing this. rest assured, it is not a normal event…

Most importantly, you can also add books from your iPad:

To do this, you have to tap on the Search function. Once you have found the book you want to add, scroll down and tp add to my books.

You can choose what “shelf” you want to put it on:

All of the functionality of the actual sight, the Goodreads app, makes me very happy.

And, if you are like me and wondering what to read during March break Goodreads’ has an awesome selection of user-generated lists of books by genre:

The More tab allows you to follow your firends as well as change the settings:

Check it out!

Spotted: Photoshop Touch for the iPad!

Adobe Photoshop Touch

Trolling through my RSS treasure trove I came upon this juicy tidbit from Lifehacker. Now, I am totally intimidated and scared by the regular old photoshop ( I use it only to crop images or resize them. Anything else I tend to get frustrated and want to throw things) so I am just passing on this info.

Price: $9.99

Here is the product description from the website:

Combine images, apply professional effects, share results with friends and family through sites like Facebook, and more – all from the convenience of your iPad.

• Use popular Photoshop features designed for the tablet such as layers, selection tools, adjustments, and filters to create mind-blowing images.
• Use your iPad camera to fill an area on a layer with the unique camera fill feature.
• Select part of an image to extract by scribbling with the Scribble Selection tool. With Refine Edge, use your fingertip to capture even hard-to-select image elements, like hair, with ease.
• Search and acquire images with the integrated Google Image Search.
• Share images on Facebook and view comments right within the app.
• Browse an inspirational gallery for the styles and results you’d like to achieve. Then follow step-by-step tutorials to easily learn techniques the pros use for great-looking results.
• Use AirPrint for wireless printing of Photoshop Touch projects.
• Upload projects to Adobe Creative Cloud* and open layered files from Adobe Photoshop Touch in Photoshop CS5.
• Maximum image resolution: 1600 x 1600 pixels

Reading the three customer reviews, the big problem seems to be the limited file size. Also the fact that it is not compatible with dropbox is mentioned. One of the reviewers mentions Photoforge which is only $0.99.

This might come in very handy with Mr. Scruton’s Grade 7 Photoshop Project…

If You Fall off the Horse…Find Another App that Doesn’t Kick You Off

Educreations

I hate to fail. Which is funny because I spend so much time doing it…Still, I am not going to take it lying down and so imagine my delight when I came across this article on edudemics on the new whiteboard app entitled Educreations.

Whereas the post on Feb. 21 took me about two hours of misery to prepare, my little video with educreations took me about 15 minutes, plus the time to download the app.

Price: Free!

Educreations addresses all of the issues I had with screenchomp and show me. It allows you to have several pages (I used 8 in my lesson). It allows you to take images from several sources:

It is very intuitive-press the record button and go! I chose to stop and start the recording with each slide, but if you are giving a lesson in class you can just keep it running.

For the Water cycle lesson plan, this would have been ideal. I can also see students using it to show how you solve a math equation, or for my idea about illustrating the Greenhouse effect.

You can choose your colour of pen. The hand lets you navigate the screen without writing. There is no eraser however, like your computer, it is just the “undo” arrow.

Below are the editing options for your images:

Once you are done, you can save your lesson, and then choose whether to share it or keep it private. You can then either send it to Facebook, twitter, email it to yourself or embed it in your website. Your lesson also automatically goes into your camera roll where you have the option to upload it to youtube!

Here is my finished lesson:
http://www.educreations.com/lesson/embed/517313/

Oh! And I just got this email in my inbox from Chris from educreations:

Hi Lina,

I see that you just signed up at Educreations and I thought I’d check to see if you need any help getting started or have any initial questions.

Thanks, and welcome to Educreations!

Chris
Co-founder Educreations

So freakin’ friendly.I think I’m in love.

 

The Trouble with using the iPads … Is time!

By Beth Wall

Yesterday, Ms. G did her blog on trying to adapt a water cycle lesson plan for grade 2 to the grade 7 level. It was a cool idea, and a very reasonable way to go about creating a lesson plan for a course. You look on the web, then try to adapt what you find. At first glance, it looked simple, and that it should take about 30 minutes to do. However, that was not how it ended up rolling out, as you know if you read the blog.

This is a great example of the difficulty of trying something new. You think, I am going to try this. You do your research, and then you experiment. You hope  you can use this in class next week, and don’t expect it to take too long. However, the research took a while, then the app you tried kept crashing, or it wouldn’t let you do what you wanted, and in the end, you’ve killed 3.5 hours of time and have no lesson plan in hand. The end result – you are frustrated and think iPads don’t work. What’s more, you still have to find time to plan out an alternative for your class.

Before you get to this point let Ms. G. or myself help you. Come talk to us about what you would like to do, and let us do the leg work to figure out what will work. Once we have it, we can sit down and show you how it works. It may take a bit of back and forth before the project is just right, but you avoid the “I want to throw this iPad out the window” moments.

Let us take you from

To

And prove that an iPad is good for more than just this:

Lesson Plan Spotted: the Water Cycle on the iPad

I came across this lesson plan via techchef4u. It was made for second graders but I think the same idea could be used to describe more sophisticated concepts, like the Green house effect.

Here is a screen shot from the blog:

Screenchomp

Students used three apps to describe the water cycle: Screen chomp, Songify and Talkapella.

So, of course, I had to try. But how did they get the songify into the screenchomp?

Hmmm. They didn’t. They put the song beside the video… I

Songify

should really pay more attention.

Next problem- Screenchomp kept on quitting on me.  Still I managed to make a small little screenchomp of my Lost and Found pile. I couldn’t figure out how  to embed it – the only options were to email it, facebook it or Twitter it. No sticking in your camera roll which I think is an oversight.

Talkapella worked the same way as songify. A simple app where you record your text and it puts it to music. I would use earphones with a speaker for both though as it is very hard to hear. And, honestly, kind of lame, but that it is just my humble opinion.

I would love to share my “songs” with you, but alas, I am using a free version of wordpress and do not have the ability to upload sound or videos.

So. My enthusiasm for this project went down a little with the limitations of these three apps. Screenchomp only allows you to use one screen and there is no way to save your video to your camera roll. I am sure there is another app that could do the same thing with more capabilities like Show me, where at least you can embed your video:
http://smr.showme.com/sma/embed/?s=aaU8N4C&w=580&h=435

Or not. Nothing seems to work today. I should just go back to bed…

rAPPido Review: Science 360 from the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Price: free!

What does it do?

Science 360 for iPad provides you with beautiful scientific images with educational text as well as short videos on a variety of subjects.

And that’s all.

The app is designed to look like a a large 360 degree screen:

Here it is loading. You must have good wifi for this app or it won't work.

 

Once loaded, it looks like this:

Although I had trouble loading this  video of scientists making silk out of goat’s milk ( I know! How cool is that?)

Most of the videos worked.  The grid of squares takes you back to the main page. You can star your favourite videos, email them to yourself or post them to facebook or twitter. The rectangle with the three dots gives you related videos.

The three lines gives you the educational text accompanying the video or image.

This is an example of an image available on Science 360

 

Problems?

My only critiques are there is no way to search the resources available – your only option is to browse the 3D-like main page. Though they may have done this on purpose- there is something to be said about browsing these images and clicking on images that intrigue you. While researching this app I watched a video about Black Holes, How lice are being used by mammologists to trace human migration, and about healing materials (polymers that can repair themselves).

There is a veritable font of information on this app and could have many applications in a science class.

My only other critique is that you cannot save the movies or the images to the camera roll. But of course, there are always screen shots.

All in all, a very interesting and useful app!

 

Update: Articles from my Google Alert

There was some interesting articles today in my weekly google alert on the iPads.

1. Apple iPad Aims to Revolutionize Education from PC World.

Most intriguing part:

2. Can Education Afford the iPad? by Tony Bates (and judging by his domain, a Canadian! Yep. A Private Consultant in e-learning from Vancouver)

Most Intriguing part:
iPads vs. Textbooks
Created by: OnlineTeachingDegree.com

But he also counters this graphic with the argument that this graphic does not take into account all the other uses of the iPad- it is not just a content delivery system.

I would read the blog post- it has some interesting prognostications, including:

…eventually, textbooks as we know them (a single, comprehensive source for a whole course) will disappear altogether, to be replaced with modular collections of multi-media digital material that can be searched and combined at will by both teachers and learners. (These might even be called ‘open educational resources’.) Time horizon: 10 years. The problem is not the technology, which is available now, but the need for educators to understand the value proposition.

 

rAPPido Review: Prezi for the iPad

Prezi Viewer

Following up on an email sent out by our distinguished leader, wherein he forwarded some information from a recent QAIS technology workshop, I decided to embark on the Prezi bandwagon. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Prezi, it is an online, wacky version of a powerpoint presentation. Actually it is quite different from a powerpoint. First of all the look is completely different- it reminds me of a cognitive map or a planetary system where you have a central premise and then have topics orbiting around them. You see the whole and then can zoom into the specific ideas.

Price: Free

However, in order to check out the new Prezi presence on the iPad, I needed to actually create a Prezi presentation. This was done on my desktop because, as the title of the app suggests, it is only a Prezi viewer, not a Prezi creator, though there are some iPad editing capabilities. I made a quick presentation on my library catalogue, then downloaded the app from the app store.

You must sign in to your account, then you have direct access to your Prezi presentations:

I think you can also download your presentations and share them via itunes, but mine are simply online. And! When I edited the version on my desktop, I received a notification on my iPad version that it had been modified online and which version did I want to use. Very cool.

Once you figure Prezi out, it is very easy to use. if your presentation is all perfect, just click the show button and tap the right side of the screen to go forward and the left to go back.

You can also edit it, or pinch and zoom in or out:

Also, the iPad lets you rock the boat a little:

Although the Prezi viewer doesn’t allow you to create a presentation on your iPad, what it does it does well. Simple, intuitive and elegant, this is definitely a viable option for presentations via the iPad!

If you are actually viewing this blog on your ipad, here is my presentation. Have a look!

INTRODUCING THE LIBRARY CATALOGUE on Prezi

P.S. the email I mentioned above also contained a link to a Prezi manual just in case you want to go all personal with the Prez…

Spotted: Two Interesting Articles in the Globe and Mail

Perusing the newspapers this morning (one of the many perks of being a librarian) I came across two interesting articles about technology in the classroom in the Globe and Mail.

The first one had to do with how the iPad is a useful device for people on the Autism Spectrum: Technology Opens Up New Worlds for Children with Autism.

Although not that relevant in our context, one point struck a cord.

The article mentions how an interactive whiteboard and an iPad were key to the acquisition of language for autistic students who do not speak. The 14 year old boy they give as an example was able to figure it out  easily. The technology revealed to his educators and parents how much he actually knew and was learning. I was thinking about the students in our school with various learning disabilities and how it could have the same effect.

Right above the article on autism and technology, was one talking about Digital literacy in the classroom: Using Technology in the Classroom Requires Experience and Guidance, Report Finds.

I know. Duh, right? But the report makes some interesting points. The first one is that it is not younger teachers on the whole who are choosing to integrate technology in the classroom but the older teachers.

They also find that students are not able to separate the wheat through the chaff when it comes to information they find online:

In the report, a Grade 5 teacher from the North describes how a group of “A-level students” came across online images that purported to depict a Sasquatch penis bone. They wanted to know if it would be appropriate to include in their science fair exhibit.

I know. Duh again. I see this problem everyday. In fact, that is why I am here- to teach them how to sift efficiently. But the solution to this problem pleasantly surprised me:

In order to teach students how to be better digital citizens, the teachers surveyed said the training wheels have to come off the Internet: The filters schools use to block unverified websites prevent students from learning how to exercise good judgment.

They go on to describe how filters are giving the students a skewed view of what is on the internet- that they need to have access to the chaff in order to know how to throw it away. As for blocks, teachers report not having access to youtube, and other social media is getting in the way of showing the students how to use these new tools in a positive way.

All this to say that yay! We are on the right track!

Oh and also a shameless plug for how indispensable librarians are.

I know. Shameless.

 

rAPPido Review: Pinterest

So I finally took the time to check out Pinterest, which has been creating a lot of buzz in the online world.

I first heard of it through Lisa Johnson, who has create a pinterest board for all her posts about iPad Lessons.

Of what I can gather, pinterest is like a virtual corkboard collage you can create- a website equivalent of a playlist.

In order to try this new app out, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and start one to fulfill this research request from the development office:

For the 125th, might you be able to research what Montreal maps exist from 1887 (our founding year) to now?
Specifically with the evolution of our Traf corner over the years (Dr. Penfield / Simpson).
To sign up to Pinterest, you have to request an invite. Then you have to wait until your request is accepted via email.
Then you can sign up with an email address and password and/or through facebook or twitter.
There is an app for it (actually there are three- two of which I can’t tell what makes them different):
The free version is obviously made for the iphone:
The other two costs $0.99. I took the amber one, but the descriptions seemed the same:
It took me a while to figure out how the app worked. I kept on tapping the Facebook icon and it kept on taking me to the webpage on safari (where you can do the exact same thing).
When you are searching on the web, all you have to do is copy the link you want to post on your Pinterest board and it automatically appears in the box. Then you tap the  Pin it button and you are good to go. The first time I did it though I couldn’t find my pin. Nor did I specifiy which board I wanted it on. I think that was because I wasn’t signed in properly.
Frustrated, I created my Montreal 19th century board online (which makes it seem kind of idiotic to have a paying app when you can do everything on the website).
The one thing that pinterest does give you is a nice visual of your topic. In terms of my project, it might have been better to just send a bunch of links to places where they can get historical maps, though if you use Pinterest on your desktop, you can upload an image:
But that would take me too long and time is money, yo. So even though it would look nicer if I downloaded and then uploaded all the images, I would rather just post the link and let the intrepid development office do the dirty work.
Other uses for Pinterest: because you can have other people upload to your board, students can use it to share the research load. Or use it as a way to present their research on a specific project or theme in English and History.
Warning though- the iPad version is limited to links to photos or videos on the web.