rAPPido Review: Erudio Pro

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.46.00 AM

 

 

Although I reviewed the free version of Erudio last year, I thought I would give the paid version another chance after I read some of the new features:

              What’s New in Version 1.5

– Adds daily digest—Erudio will now automatically notify you every day of your tasks and assignments that are due today, due tomorrow, and overdue
– Improvements to calendar sync—you can now choose to sync your tasks and holidays in addition to your courses
– Tasks are now due at a time of day in addition to being due on a date.
– Reminders can now be set relative to the due date of a task (e.g. 30 minutes before due)
– Various improvements to the Erudio settings interface
– Numerous bugfixes

I was especially interested to the second point : “Improvements to calendar sync”. Could it be that I finally found an app that gave you a weekly view of your assignments, not only of your schedule?

Colour me intrigued…

Although I like the simple, warm interface, with the quaint cursive and the wood panelled background, it still took me a while to figure out why the calendar was showing stuff from last year. I finally figured out that it was still using the semester I inputted last year for the purpose of reviewing it. So the first thing I did was click on the graduation cap icon on the left hand side and changed the winter semester to 2014:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 8.58.45 AM

 

That was easy! So back to the default screen which is accessible via the checklist icon.

When you first enter the app, this is the first thing you see:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 8.56.37 AM

 

To see your calendar events you tap the red dot:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.01.45 AM

 

Ok. So far, I haven’t inputted any extra data. Everything on my calendar has been synced with my iCal and Gmail calendars. To choose which calendars you view in Erudio, go to settings (the gear icon)–>Calendar Sync–> and choose your calendars:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.05.38 AM

 

Now let’s populate our app once again. I am going to use a typical grade seven schedule. I already have the winter semester plugged, so now I am going to add some classes:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.12.00 AM

 

Erudio doesn’t allow for a 2 week schedule so it would not be useful to you use it for class schedules. Although this is not as important as keeping track of the homework, as the students have their schedules in other places, it would have been nice.

However, you can’t have a course without a section apparently, so that is kind of annoying…I want to simply add the courses so that I can colour code my assignments. Okay- so I tried adding sections to PE- this is how it would look:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.20.02 AM

 

 

Not ideal…

Okay, now I am going to add an assignment. In my settings, I chose to sync it up with my calendar:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.25.38 AM

 

Now, this I like. Simple, and intuitive, with the ability to set your reminders at a specific time, date as well as set repeats until the assignment is due:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.24.22 AM

 

When you go back to the default view of the timeline, you can very clearly that there is one task due this week:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.29.39 AM

 

And voilà! The task appears in the calendar view as well:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 9.31.12 AM

 

However, you will also notice that my PE classes are showing up. This is annoying because Erudio doesn’t allow us to have an every other week schedule so both week 1 and week 2 schedules are showing up.

Let’s see how it stacks up with our criteria:

  • Easy and quick to use: (0/2)

Although it is really easy to use once you get the hang of it, you have to get the hang of it. Also the fact that they require you to add sections to your courses and that they don’t allow for a 2 week schedule is a major problem.

  • Clean, intuitive interface: (2/2)

Yes. The interface feels warm and welcoming, is simple, uncluttered and user-friendly.

  • Different views (daily, weekly, monthly) of all assignments:(2/3)

Out of all the apps, I like the default view the best. It gives you your weeks in a line with the number of tasks due that week. If you want to go more in detail, you simply tap the week.In this view you can even see the whole semester. The weekly view however is in list format. It would be nice if you could see it in an actual calendar view.

Different colours for different classes:(1/1)

Yes! It was very pretty.

  • Alerts for assignments (1/1)

Yes, the alerts lets you choose when you want to be reminded- a day before, etc. It also allows you to add repeat reminders which is awesome.

  • If not free, then cheap (2/2)

Yes. The upgraded version is only $2.99

  • Easily synced with your other devices: (3/3)

Yes- you can sync Erudio with iCloud and you can import your iCal calendars and your subscribed calendars into the app.

Result: 11/14

 Erudio has some very nice features, all of which are overshadowed by the limitations to the course schedules. And although they have gone the farthest in letting us add assignments to our calendar list view, I would like it if they went even farther and let us have an actual weekly calendar view, for those students who need to have a visual of their week.

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rAPPido Review: iStudiez Pro

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 9.57.11 AMLast year I reviewed the light version of Istudiez Pro. Even with the light version, it clearly had a lot of options that were very useful for us. So I decided to splurge and pay the $2.99 to try out the paid version.

The difference between the lite version and the pro version is that the lite version limits you to:

– 1 semester
– 5 courses
– 15 classes/exams per course
– 15 assignments
– 5 instructors
– 2 holiday periods

 

But for the low price of $2.99 you can have (I am assuming) unlimited semesters, etc. For this review, I thought it would be good to pretend I was a student,so I have shamelessly stolen my daughter’s schedule. I did this instead of using a generic student because I have a calendar of her extra curriculars in my iCal, and the great thing about Istudiez pro is that you can sync your calendars to the app.

The first thing I did after buying the app was to go into settings–>calendar and choose the calendars I wanted to appear in my homework app. This included my personal calendar as well as the feeds I subscribe to from the school’s web calendar:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 9.58.27 AM

 

Students can subscribe to their class feeds for  exams and large projects as well. Then I wanted to see if you could create assignments without creating courses, etc.:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.04.31 AM

 

This is important as some girls will not want to add all the infrastructure (eg. semester, classes schedule, instructor) which they would have to do by hand. They have this information in many other places so it might not be necessary.

Having said that, some girls will want to be as organized as possible. So I timed myself to see how long it took  to add my daughter’s semester, classes and teachers:

Adding the semester (about 1 minute):

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.09.59 AM

 

Okay- it took me about two minutes to figure out where I can add my courses. Starting at 10:12 am.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.17.04 AM

 

It took me about five minutes to add my classes. Once again, students could stop here. They have their schedules usually screenshotted on their iPad so do not necessarily need to add their schedule into the app.  But let’s pretend I am a keener and want all my info in one place. Will the app be able to deal with our weird 2 week schedule? Let us see!

It took me about five minutes to add the PE schedule:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.27.50 AM

 

Because we have a 2 week schedule, I had to be careful to begin the semester for the Week 2 classes on January 12, instead of January 6 so that the schedule would be accurate. As you can see, it is pretty time-consuming and probably not necessary, but very doable. Here is how it looks like in calendar view:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.32.29 AM

 

Now I have noticed that the assignments don’t show up in the calendar view. Dots show up on the small calendar to notify you that you have something due, but it does not show up in the calendar view. It is possible to add a new event on the calendar:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.59.46 AM

 

But then they wouldn’t be in Assignments…

The day view allows you to see your schedule as well as the assignments due:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 11.03.17 AM

 

It also gives you the ability to add either an event on your schedule or another assignment on the day. With assignments, you can choose when you want to be alerted of the due date:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 11.05.08 AM

 

It is possible to either import your teacher’s contact information by allowing istudiez to access your contacts. I did this and it too me about one second. But I am assuming the student would not already have the teacher in their contacts:

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 11.09.25 AM

 

There is also a grade tracker which we will ignore- students can or cannot explore this option on their own.

Our conclusion?

  • Easy and quick to use: (2/2)

Yes, depending on how many things you want to input into the planner. If you want to input your whole schedule, it will take you some time but it is do-able and pretty easy, if a little onerous. But if you are happy with simply adding classes and assignments, it won’t take you very much time at all!

  • Clean, intuitive interface: (2/2)

Yes. I really like the default interface, which is the daily view. On what side you have your schedule, and on the other side you have the assignments due that day. It is clean and very helpful.

  • Different views (daily, weekly, monthly) of all assignments:(1/3)

And once again, here is where the app lets us down. There is a daily view of both schedules and assignments, but the weekly view is only what has been put into the calendar, not the assignments due. Although we can see when we have something due by the little dots on the monthly view, it doesn’t get more specific than that.

  • Different colours for different classes:(1/1)

Yes! It was very pretty.

  • Alerts for assignments (1/1)

Yes, the alerts lets you choose when you want to be reminded- a day before, etc.However there is no repeat.

  • If not free, then cheap (2/2)

Yes. The upgraded version is only $2.99

  • Easily synced with your other devices: (3/3)

Yes- you can sync iStudiezpro with iCloud and you can import your iCal calendars and your subscribed calendars into the app.

Result: 12/14

Not bad, but the inability to get a nice visual of your assignments due in a week is still a problem. I wonder if the Istudiez pro would consider making adding assignments to the calendar as an option? If so, it would get a 14/14!

 

rAppido Review: The HW App

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.31.14 AMToday I begin to review the homework agendas. I had a little setback, as I was going to start with the ones reviewed in the article I posted the other day only to find out that many of them were either no longer available, or not available in Canada.

Fine then. Be that way stilly app store.

So I resorted to typing in “homework” on the app store and choosing one that caught my eye. The first one I tried was The Homework App. There is a free version, which means you’ll get ads and an upgraded version for a U.S. dollar, which means there are no ads and a few added features, including one that I am particularly excited about, sub-tasks.

The clean, block like interface caught my eye. This is how it looks like when you open it:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.34.12 AM

To begin you tap the + sign in the upper right corner. It will take you automatically to adding a task:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.36.15 AM

When you tap on the subject heading, you can then add all of your subjects, colour coding them of course!

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 9.37.58 AM

And here is the part I really like, the sub tasks! Say you have a big project due, like an English essay or ahem, a science fair project. You can have your own big task and then list all of the little steps inside that big task:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.09.34 AM

Of course the only problem with this is that you cannot set a reminder for each of the due dates of the sub tasks. Nor can you repeat a reminder on the actual task, unlike the built-in reminders app on the iPad.

You can also add a classification to your task. Eg. Is it an exam, essay, etc.?:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.12.45 AM

Hmmm. As I wrote this, the app closed on me and it deleted everything I just did. That is worrisome…

Here is how a completed task looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.17.09 AM

Here is how it looks when you have several tasks to complete:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.26.53 AM

Where this app fails spectacularly is in the calendar option. It is a built-in calendar and does not sync with iCal or google. But most importantly, it doesn’t really work.  It says to pinch out to zoom, but I’ve tried and tried and the thing won’t budge. I have had to tap several times to be able to move forward. Although there is a dot below the date when an assignment is due, that’s about it. There is no broad view of what the upcoming week looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.23.47 AMIt is also very messy, like there is some sort of glitch in the system, so maybe it would be worth to come back and check out the calendar at a later date.

So. How does The Homework app stack up to our criteria?

  • Easy and quick to use: (2/2)

Yes. The Homework app is simple to use. It was as easy as reminders, even a little more easy. Adding subjects and classifications was also a nice touch.

  • Clean, intuitive interface: (2/2)

Yes. Lovely, simple and elegant interface. Not too crowded and not too many bells and whistles. It is as intuitive as finding the + sign and adding your tasks.

  • Different views (daily, weekly, monthly) of all assignments:(0/3)

Epic fail. Although you can sort your tasks by due date or by subject or by importance, the only view is a list of tasks. The calendar app should have addressed this but it didn’t work very well. All I could see was a cursory monthly view.

  • Different colours for different classes:(1/1)

Yes! It was very pretty.

  • Alerts for assignments (.5/1)

Yes, though there were no repeat options on the tasks and you could not add a due date to the sub-tasks.

  • If not free, then cheap (2/2)

Yes. The free version is pretty good though you cannot add sub-tasks and the upgraded version is only a dollar.

  • Easily synced with your other devices: (0/3)

No. It doesn’t sync with anything which is a major drawback. I think they are making an upgraded version that will cost $2/year that will allow you to sync with all your devices, but it hasn’t happened yet. This is something you can only use on your iPad.

Result: 7.7/14

Homework Planners: The beginning. Again.

It is that time of year again, where I have been asked to review our decision to use the built-in tools on the iPad for the students’ agenda,Reminders and Calendar.

Which, by the way, I think is a good idea. Is it working? Are the students using it? Is it helpful? Efficient? Practical? What are the challenges? These are questions we should be asking ourselves every year.

In order to get a better idea, I conducted a very brief and wholly unscientific survey of the Grade 7 class to see what they were using. I was able to survey 23 out of 24 students. Here are a few of the results:

  • 13 use either Reminders or Calendar or a combination of the two  as a homework agenda.
  • 2 Use an outside app called ABC Notes (which hurts my brain a little, but there you go- different strokes for different folks)
  • 3 Use the paper agenda provided from the school on the recommendation of the academic counselor
  • 5 have bought their own print agenda

Which puts me in a bit of a quandary. As yesterday’s post pointed out, there are advantages and disadvantages to both print and electronic. Add to that the variety of learning and organization styles of our students and it it is hard to figure out what to recommend as the best option.

However, I do think it is important to get students used to using online organization tools such as e-calendars, etc. Personally my life is lived on my google calendar. My husband and I share each other’s calendars so we know what it is going in each other’s life. My daughters have their own calendars for their activities. I have one for work and one for home.  When I look at my calendar I get a good picture of how my week is shaping up. The best part is, it is synced with my iPhone, iPad, computer at work as well as anywhere I care to look for it.

However, I also keep a print list beside my desk at work and my computer at home for tasks that need to be done. This method works for me because I am pretty sedentary- I am usually only in one place. The list allows me to look away from the computer for a moment and regroup.

See? Everybody is different. Having said that, It would be nice to find a Homework agenda that encompasses the best of these worlds. So in that vein, I am going to start reviewing (and in some cases, re-reviewing) some homework agenda apps in the next couple of weeks.

I have taken my criteria from last year and revised it, putting the new text in bold:

  • Easy and quick to use
  • Clean, intuitive interface
  • Different views (daily, weekly, monthly) of all assignments
  • Easy to input assignments
  • Different colours for different classes
  • Alerts for assignments
  • If not free, then cheap
  • Easily synced with your other devices

I have taken out:

  • easy to import schedules

Importing schedules is less important I think as our students already have their schedules in other places.It is nice for them to have the option, but less of a priority than I originally thought.

  • It would be great if it could talk to our intranet, but that might be too much to ask.

Yeah. Not going to happen for a while.

I am going to start by reviewing the apps in the article below, then by trying out something called Fantastical 2.

If you have any suggestions, or feel like I should add something to my criteria, please let me know!

See on Scoop.itipadyoupad

See on www.educatorstechnology.com

A Student’s Perspective on iStudiez Pro

iStudiez Pro

iStudiez Pro

In Anticipation for Tomorrow’s Presentation, I thought I would post this article reviewing the app iStudiez Pro. here is Mr. Snelgrove’s conclusion:

My Recommendation

If you’re a starving student or a parent trying to figure out how to make sure your kid gets through the seventh grade, I can’t recommend iStudiez Pro highly enough. It suffers from a little bit of feature bloat, but in this app’s case, one student’s feature bloat is another student’s paradise. Since I started using the app, my grades have gone up, my productivity has more than doubled, and my schedule has become much easier to manage. Even planning vacations got a lot easier when I could see where the gaps were in between assignments and work.

It is helpful to see how an actual student uses the app. With that in mind, I asked my daughter to try out the app for the couple of months. She is also a big fan though I notice she doesn’t use it for her class schedule. When I asked her whey, she said she couldn’t figure it out.

I think the main challenge for our school will be the importing of the bi-weekly schedule in the app. The way they ask you to input your class schedule does not allow for alternate weeks. This only means that they will have to manually input their schedule into the calendar, instead of using the planner section of the app.

But more on that tomorrow!

 

Meandering through some Best Apps lists to get to iHomework

This morning I woke up and remembered my promise to research student agenda apps. After responding to the morning emails, watering my lovely Christmas tree and retrieving the essential cup of coffee (which seems to be going down faster than it is waking me up) I sat down and typed ipad app student agenda into my search engine.

And then promptly got distracted by all the best apps list.

I clicked on the first link from Gizmodo. It was a list  written in 2010 and had absolutely no student agenda in it at all, but what it did have was an awesome news section. I sat, sipping my coffee, wondering why I have never downloaded the BBC news app or NPR app or even the NYT Editor’s choice. Why? Oh why has it taken me so long? It is because I have a serious CBC addiction, that is why. New Year’s resolution: switch up my news sources.

But then I focused and realized the Gizmodo list was not only old, but had no student agendas on it. (As a librarian, I should n=know it was a faulty search, but I was having fun darn it.)

Mint.comPrice: free

Mint.com
Price: free

Next link was a more recent list by PC Mag, written last month.I perused this list for a while, but their format is unwieldy, making you click and then wait for the next app to load. Alsom they do not shy away from the really expensive apps. Still, a few things stood out- especially this one app, mint.com  which I noticed in this article entitled Back to School: 15 Essential iOS  for Students (written back in the summer of 2011).

It made me wonder what we are doing to teach financial literacy to our students. Do we teach budgeting anymore? I have a vague memory of a home economics class where I had to keep a budget.  I am going to download this app and give it a whirl…

Darn. Got distracted again.

The above article also mentioned istudiezpro, which I have already reviewed (at least the lite version). But it also mentions ihomework. Now I am confused as to why a student would need both? Do they not do the same thing? Let us compare…

Here is what the article says about the two apps:

istudiezpro$2.99

istudiezpro
$2.99

8. iStudiez Pro

Cost: $2.99

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

Why you need it: Organize even the most complicated course schedule with iStudiez. Visualize your classes, activities and assignments on this well designed color-coded calendar. Like many of the other organization apps, you can set reminders for major events and track your grades and GPA.http://mashable.com/2011/08/17/iphone-apps-students/

 

7. iHomework

Cost: $1.99

Supported devices: iPad, iPhone and iPod touch

ihomeworkPrice: $1.99

ihomework
Price: $1.99

Why you need it: Before you invest in a leather-bound planner, vowing to religiously log all your to-dos, consider iHomework instead. The app will keep your schedule and workflow streamlined, alerting you with all your deadlines and assignments. If a friend sleeps though class (the app alerts you for class so you’ll never be the one sleeping late) you can share missed assignments though email. Log your grades so you know what your report card will look like in advance.

Now let us revisit our citeria:

  • Easy to use
  • Clean, intuitive interface
  • easy to import schedules
  • It would be great if it could talk to our intranet, but that might be too much to ask.
  • Easy to input assignments
  • Different colours for different classes
  • Alerts for assignments
  • If not free, then cheap
  • Easily synced with your other devices

As ihomework does not have a lite version, I cannot test it out. But judging from the screenshots, the interface looks simple and easy to use:

mzl.spngsfwp.320x480-75

It bills itself as “[the] only school organizer available for iPhone/iPod touch, iPad, and Mac. Add your work on the go and sync it with your laptop when you get the time.”Which is obviously not true. But it is syncable with your other devices.

Otherwise, I can’t see much difference between this one and istudiezpro, except that it is a dollar cheaper.

I think we might need a student focus group to solve this dilemma for us. Which is better: ihomework or istudiezpro?