The Holidays on the iPad


From crafts to carols to holiday recipes, the iPad is your portable Holiday command centre! Check out these free (or cheap) Holiday apps list put together by app advice:

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Digital Literacy: The New Digital Divide

Wordle by Mark Pullen via Angela Maiers

Wordle by Mark Pullen via Angela Maiers

I just read this extremely thought-provoking blog post about an emerging digital divide within our own communities. Although they are talking about the Academic Graduate world, the experience is very close to what we live in our own school. There are some teachers who are so tech savvy they can code their own pages (Mr. Math teach, I’m talking to you). Others, like me,   are proficient enough to navigate the online world, but know only a few lines of code and would have to do some major figuring out before being able to create a website (though I have enough confidence in my ability with tech, if not the inclination, to feel like I could figure out the basics), to those who are very good at their job but who resent having to email, let alone collaborate on a google doc:

But there are various shades of complexity before we even get to that divide between those who “build” and those who don’t. New digital divides created by the great diversity of digital skill sets amongst most arts and humanities scholars. The recent popularity of the digital humanities (or rather, of the term “digital humanities”) has meant that many propose that in the near future everyone in the humanities will be a digital humanist, and that the adjective “digital’ will have to be dropped soon. It is more and more common to see job adverts seeking scholars with PhDs in very specialised arts and humanities themes who can also code (for example, PhP, Python, whatever). In general, these are skills that are not formally included in most postgraduate humanities degrees. As an educated guess one might be able to generalise that many if not most humanities scholars who possess some level of coding skills often acquired them through alternative methods, taught themselves or have backgrounds in disciplines that until very recently were not part of the humanities curricula.

The job descriptions out there seem to tell a different story. It is as if suddenly, in some section of the academic world, we were witnessing the rise of a super-humanist, who is not only an expert in Aramean manuscripts but can also develop XML schemas, tweak APIs, design WordPress templates, who is a master of custom CSS design for ebooks and blogs, tweets, curates data sets and visualises online networks and quantifies her open access journal articles webometrics and altmetrics. This prototype scholar seems to be some kind of mutant 21stcentury super-powered being who simultaneously designs and maintains algorithmic architectures and deconstructs the history of literary theory and textual scholarship by heart.

It never occurred to me to think of the  the digital divide between creators (those who can build a website using a coding language, e.g.. PhP) and consumers (those who use the interface but never look behind the curtain to see how it works.
It makes me wonder about our current definitions of digital literacy, most of which confine themselves to navigation and use. Is it time we start thinking about teaching our students code? Will this be an essential skill in the future?
Food for thought.
Note on academics who teach themselves code: I have a good friend who has a degree in linguistics who taught herself code and now works as a taxonomist and web designer. In fact, her story is not unique- I just met another linguist turned coder the other day. They were both self-taught and both make the parallel between spoken languages and coding language. 

Apps for the Holidays

For Reading:

Here is a run down of the Best eReader Apps for the iPad via gottabemobile:

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For New Year’s Resolutioning:

Last year I wrote this post about tracking your new year’s resolutions:

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And also this one.

I also saw this app recently, but am too cheap to pay the 99 cents to try it out. New Year’s resolution: Try to be less cheap.

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For weight watching and fitness tracking:

My favorite is Fit for life:

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But I also wrote this post that names a few apps to keep you fit and trim during this season of excess.

For Gaming:

I only ever play one game:

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But I also wrote this post last holiday season with other diversions in it.

For TV and Movie watching:

I enjoy Netflix, even if we don’t have as good a selection as the U.S.

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Note: The app is free, not your subscription. But at $8 a month, it is still a bargain.

You can also get a subscription to BBC:

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For capturing on film that really annoying drunk uncle:

The built-in camera and iMovie of course.

I’m just kidding. It is never nice to film drunk people. You should help them down that icy stoop instead, no matter how annoying they are…

And for the fun of it, Scare Snowman Episode 2:

Awesome infographic illustrating how students use textbooks


I gotta figure out how to make me some infographics.

A Look at Students Using eTextbooks

What I find most interesting is that the best feature for students was searchability, not the fancy bells and whistles. This is a good reminder that the iPad is best used as a tool- it is there to make our lives easier.


An Example of an iPad Workflow

via Jonathan Wylie: Instructional Technology Consultant

The devil’s in the details, and though we have good intentions about how to use the iPads we get stumped by the minor, yet essential logistics of how students can effectively deliver their work to the teacher. Gone are the days where, at the beginning of class, the student would bring in their homework, lovingly (or not so lovingly) hand written or even typed on actual paper and physically put it in the hands of the teacher.

One of the lessons we have learned with the iPad these last two years is that sharing the work can be difficult, especially if they are big files (still working on that issue). Here is an example of a workflow for text documents or spreadsheets by Jonathan Wylie:

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Do you have an example of a  workflow that works for you? Please share!


iPad Orchestra!

Via iPad in Canada

The University of Regina debuts their iPad orchestra. This is an initiative  that originates from a “Creative technologies” class. How freaking cool would it be to take a creative technologies class? Pretty darn cool…

Here is an excerpt:

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My youngest daughter went on a field trip to her class recently to the Société des Arts Technologiques and came home raving about her experience. The best part for her was making music with the various devices as well as trying her hand at DJing (she got to scratch an old Disney’s Snow White record, which in my opinion was made to be scratched.)

I thought of this when I read the above article. I think sometimes I forget, with my emphasis on the iPad being a tool, that it can also  be used in extremely creative ways. It also begs the question about music and music education and where is it going. If Angèle Dubeau can see the beauty in new media and make an album where she interprets game music (yes, the angry birds theme is there!), how could we use the iPad to push the boundaries of our student’s creativity?

This reminds me of another thing- this last weekend we had our annual Christmas party at our house. The house was crowded, with a gaggle of teenage girls roaming around. My daughter had her iPad and by the end of the evening, the girls had made a professional looking movie trailer (it was a horror film where they had to run away from the dessert). They were not glued to a screen as they were in previous years, but talking, collaborating and planning. Oh, and falling down and laughing hysterically.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do some concerted art project with the iPad? Start our own iPad orchestra? The potential is limitless…

Do you have any big ideas?