PlainText (iPhone, iPad): I’ve only just downloaded this app but I can already see the benefits of being able to makes notes and work on documents and store/transfer them through Dropbox.
“PlainText is a simple text editor with an uncomplicated, paper-like user interface. Unlike the default Notes app, PlainText allows you to create and organize your documents in folders and sync everything with Dropbox”
I have used the default Notes app since first getting an iOS device some 4 years ago and it was only down to the recommendation of Alan Cann (@AJCann) that I thought to try/find something better – PlainText was one of his strong recommendations.
Here are my notes:
When you first start the app there some handy hints and tips, read them!
It’s as easy as using Notes or anything else to write or take notes, but the clean and uncluttered (apart from the adverts, more on this later) makes it nice to use.
Ever since the upgrade to iOS6 the one thing I, and many more, have missed are the Google Maps. Well, ever since news leaked of Google Maps being ready for the App Store we have been waiting for it’s release. And here it is!
‘Google Maps’ (iPhone/iPad/iPod): Thankfully available on the iPhone again, I’ve missed this .. and it’s back and better than before. It’s still a pity that you can’t make an App the ‘default’ for this type of content, like the Chrome browser App instead of default Safari browser, but it’s still good to have the maps back … and hopefully more accurate and ‘trustworthy’ than the ‘other one’.
“Get comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps with built-in Google local search, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transport directions, Street View and more. Use Google Maps to discover great places to eat, drink, shop and play, with ratings and reviews from people you trust. Sign in to save your favourite places and quickly access all your past searches and directions from your computer, right on your phone.”
I admit, I’ve been guilty of this too – reinforce the consequences of copying and plagiarism without fully explaining about information literacy and how to correctly reference and cite work. Which is why this video from Tara Brabazonis a timely reminder about what the student thinks.Tara asks her students how they feel about plagiarism and why it has become such an issue in the contemporary university.
Here are two interesting quotes from a student in the video:
“I think plagiarism is such a big deal because none of us actually have original ideas, we’ve become too lazy to think of anything ourselves: we rely on other people to think of something for us.”
I hope not – I hope that these students (16 year olds?) have not had imagination and creativity beaten out of them, they are the future and should still be thinking, planning, scheming, and dreaming. Do students really think they can’t try and be original, where would we be without original thoughts?
“I think, today, the definition of many fundamental words are questionable, such as ‘imagination’ and ‘originality’, and I think it’s time we have to explore the true meaning of these words and try to figure out what the hell is going on. So it’s time to think of fresh ideas and plagiarism, you know copying other peoples ideas, is probably the reason for this big mess.”
Plagiarism or copying could, for some, be the easy way out of a difficult situation, but hard work or creativity can produce wonders – just look at the impact the first Apple iPod or iPhone had on their respective markets.
How do you introduce digital and information literacy to students? What steps do you go through, and ask your students to go through, to work with referencing and citation to prevent academic infringements? Care to share any resources with us?
OK, so I’ll own up … in 1992 I became a fresher at Kingston University, which is why, after walking around campus this week, ‘freshers week’ at the University of Leicester, I feel compelled to write this.
I know this will sound like I’m an old fart (which I probably am now), but in ‘my day’ my parents left me at the hall of residence, and that was me for the next 2 or 3 months, on my own with hardly any contact with friends or family, left with 10 other complete strangers in my hall ‘house’ who would grow become a second family. We were all in the same boat. We were all away from home for the first time, all 18/19 years old, and all feeling slightly nervous about these strangers we had to get on and live with. There was a public phone I could use to call friends and family but it was expensive and I couldn’t be bothered to queue for it. And anyway, who would I call – we didn’t find out about the number until we turned up? My old school friends were in the same boat, at their own university, with an equally busy and expensive public phone … and I wasn’t about to call home. I had no choice but to find out who I was living with, I had no choice but to engage and socialise and to make friends. I had no choice but to suck it up and get on with it – no moaning to old school friends about this or that: my new support network was there and I had to find out the hard way who I could trust, or not as it turned out.
I don’t think students are having, or about to have, the ‘university experience’ they think, and it’s certainly not the experience I had. Here’s why.
1992 – my hall of residence housed about 500+students in some 50 ‘houses’, and had less than 50 parking spaces – which were for the most part empty, as students didn’t have or need cars, or afford them either. And those that did have a car had a beat-up old Renault 5 or Ford Fiesta or Mini that their mum let them have.
2012 – so many students have cars, and nearly all I saw today (and in previous years) are no older than 3 or 4 years old, and look like a branch of Halfords loaded in the boot. There is clearly more money in the students pocket (or their parents pockets). The number driving fairly upmarket executive cars is also very high, as it was when I looked around the car park at Bournemouth University over previous years.
1992 – I took a shoe box with 25 or so cassettes and a cassette stereo with me to Uni in my first year, that’s all I had room for in the car along with everything else I had to take. I had to leave my record player and 400+ vinyl albums behind, I just didn’t know what it was going to be like enough to take them. The next year I’d saved and got a portable CD stereo (still quite new even then) so had the same shoebox but stuffed full of CDs, which was still only about 30. I had to be very selective about what music to take for the term, and it was a careful choice that changed often in the weeks and days leading up to leaving home.
2012 – with iPod and iPhone, and probably iPad too (or Blackberry’s, or Android, or cloud storage), in their pockets they’re taking hundreds of albums and thousands of MP3s. It’s too easy. Where are the ‘mix tapes’ and the careful soul searching about which tunes will be good for the next few months? It’s not all about playlists you know!
1992 – even when we tried to be smart, we were still quite scruffy. It wasn’t just about fashion, it was more about money to live vs money to dress well with, and we preferred to eat. In fact one house mate in my first year survived off spaghetti rings and sausages he got on offer from Iceland for the whole of his first term while he waited for cheques to clear (cheques .. .remember them?)
2012 – when the new students are smart, they are very smart with heavily branded (and expensive) clothes and, when they’re scruffy they are very scruffy. But this year the students are, at the moment, extremely well dressed – all no doubt showing off in the first week. Let’s see what it’s like by next May?
1992 – Our assignments were based around what was in the the course materials that we had to buy (yes, buy!) from the office, or in the library; books, journals, and some old newspapers. It was relatively easier for my tutors to know the sources we’d use in their assignments, or at least recognise an un-quoted piece. We had no access to other students at other Universities and what they’d been writing.
2012 – With the Internet in their back pockets its harder for the University to know what is or isn’t copied, or indeed what is in the library and what isn’t. Is this why we are becoming so reliant on tools like Turnitin, or is that the tutors don’t know their subject as well as they used to?
1992 – there was nothing mobile – phones, computing, etc. I knew only one person with a personal computer (PC) and that was the size of his suitcase and had basic word processor and spreadsheet capabilities, and that was it. In my final year I rented a PC for £25 a month, and it was old and slow even by the standards at that time (remember Radio Rentals). There was barely something you’d recognise as the Internet – I had an email but it was internal to the university only. It wasn’t until my final year in 1996 that I could find work related to my course (Geology) and even then it was extremely limited to the larger US universities who had websites not only for brand but also for research activities.
2012 – everything is mobile, everything is in their pockets, everything is available. While this is good, it’s very good, but it makes it easy to escape from the experience of engaging with new people and places. With Facebook and Twitter and IM and other online tools it’s easy for new students to forget it’s all new and just continue their old lives at a distance, while not putting as much effort in to their new environment and people.
While some aspects (mobile phones, cars, Intenet, opportunities, etc) I wish I’d had 20 years ago, I think I had a better experience at becoming self-sufficient and learning about life.
This is why students are getting, for me, a diluted university experience: they never really shake off their bounds to home and friends enough to explore their new environment, new people, new scenes, new everything. It’s too easy when it gets tough or lonely to snap back to their old life and ‘not try’. I’m not saying this isn’t needed, clearly some need this safety net for a good many reasons, but there are some who just need to try harder where they are now and get on with it. How are they going to graduate as mature capable adults if it’s been easy to avoid conflict or hard decisions?
Come on, one and all … what are your observations about freshers when you were one and the current cream of the crop? Have you noticed the changes and how do you think they impact on the ‘university experience’ – good or bad? You notice I haven’t mentioned the tuition fess .. oh damn, I just did!
Amazon Cloud Player (iPhone, iPad, iPod): If, like me, you download music from Amazon you already know that the DRM-free files load easily into iTunes and play nicely (and with good quality sound reproduction) on all iOS devices. Recently available in the UK is the Amazon Cloud Player which enables you, for free, to access all the music you downloaded from Amazon, ever.
Note: I prefer Amazon for downloading music as its (a) usually cheaper than iTunes, (b) better choice on compilation & special editions, and (c) DRM free MP3 files (not AAC, which don’t play on all devices).
So, to the app …
“Your music. Everywhere. Listen to your music collection from the cloud on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad anywhere you are. You can download or stream your library from the cloud – or play the music you already have on your device.”
You have the ability to match your other downloaded music from other sources (iTunes included) and have these available through the Cloud Player, but you are limited to 250 tracks on the free services – if you want more then you can have the Premium account for £21.99 per year and up to 250,000 tracks! That’s a whole lot of music, and more than iTunes offers at the moment.
You can link up to 10 devices to your Cloud Player.
You can create your online library to match the music stored on your computer(s) by using Amazon’s “scan and match” technology, which searches a catalogue of 20 million tracks.
All matched songs are automatically stored by Cloud Player in high-quality 256 Kbps audio.
All Amazon MP3 purchases, including music that you bought before the Cloud was introduced, are automatically saved to Cloud Player for free! Nice
What is also great about the Cloud Player is that you can access it from any web browser so you can have your music playing on your desktop while you work (very useful if you’ve not got much battery life left in your device).
At the moment I’m using my iPhone for recording and editing video so, as I’ve only got the base 16GB model, I deleted all my music and quite a few apps to free up storage space … this app gives me the ability to at least access some tunes.
One aspect of the App that I’m really impressed with is that it continues to play the music even when you start using other apps, it leaves it playing the background. This may be a small thing but other apps that I’d hope to continue in the background don’t and, when you go back to it again you have to wait from them to re-start and re-load the details, often losing where you were in the process.
Future of Technology in Education Conference (iPhone/iPad/iPod): If you’re considering attending the Future of Technology in Education FOTE conference this year then you may want to think about downloading the dedicated App for it (also available for Android devices).
“The FOTE12 app offers delegates of the conference all relevant event information in the palm of their hand.”
It has been updated from last year at FOTE11 and doesn’t show you much at the moment, but it’ll come alive on the day with details and information on:
Flick through the days agenda with information and find out more about keynote speakers and their talks
Connect with fellow delegates,
Connect with exhibitors and sponsors during the event,
Visit the FOTE Archive for highlights from past conferences,
Receive alerts and announcements using Push Notifications, and
Receive the latest news about the conference.
You can already look through the recordings of past events and watch them through Archive section, which I guess is where you will also be able to find details and recordings of the FOTE12 event in due course!
Update 28/9: New features have been added since I wrote the app, including delegate list (currently empty), maps and location, details on the #playFOTE12 game (sounds good!), and agenda for the day (inclusing bio and outline of the session).
Photosynth (iPad, iPhone, iPod): I’ve tried a few apps that stitch photos together and produce a seamless panorama (DMD Dermandar is one I’ve mentioned before) but this one is the best I’ve found that enables not only 360 degree horizontal rotation but also vertically too. Let’s face many how many scenes are so flat you can capture it in one plane?
“Photosynth for iOS is the panorama creation app that makes it easy and fun to capture and share interactive panoramas of the places, people, and events that are important to you. Using the latest in computer vision techniques you can not only make a panorama from left to right, but also up and down, enabling you to capture a full ‘sphere’.”
Be careful when using an area that has a high contrast between direct sunlight and shade, the final panorama will not look as seamless as you may hope.
Take your time between capturing each image, especially if there are people or moving elements in the frame(s). If you can just wait until someone has moved out of the immediate frame before continuing – this will stop the ‘missing head’ or ‘missing body’ that features in my second panorama (see below).
Don’t stand too close to objects (railings, buildings, etc) as these become very distorted during the stitching process (again, see panorama below).
So, what can this app offer education – it can bring places into the classroom as more just a static image. Share your Photosynth’s on Bing Maps and the Photosynth website for others to take advantage of, and use someone else’s from somewhelse else in the world, like:
How brilliant that students have a voice at a conference, something I first encountered at FOTE last year and again at PELC earlier this year.
Important issues to consider between the student / institution relationship and online students include aspects of communication as well as integration, engagement, and alienation due to distance. If institution want to invest in more online courses then these issues must be addressed before the students enrol/start and not once they are here.
Online communities are created with or without the institution but the institution should consider these communities and work to bring everyone together (student services or student union to have dedicated post to support this?). The student portal does not reflect or address this: should it or should this be dealt with elsewhere? These students use Ning and Wimba … all external tools to the institution website and/or systems – breaking relationship between students and the institution.
Coming from an engaged and encouraged environment at High School the experience at university is very different and daunting. Despite dedicated buildings designed for the students the spaces were actually more restrictive than not, all coming for the actual construction and structure – the student made this video to explain, artistically, the problems with barriers, blank walls, and barriers to the toilets! “This is an arts school”
“Creativity through mobile devices”: Mobile devices have brought new processes and procedures into our daily routine, and Shilpi talks about ‘iPhone Obsessed‘ book and how Dan has had to change his routine that he used to have for his DSLR work to now concentrate on the iPhone apps. Mobile devices enable instant results – take the photo or video, edit it in situ and upload it for wider consumption (and mixing / mash-up)?
Experiences of ‘my digital life’: showing illustrations of work developed alone and through collaboration on iPhones and iPads. While some of this is obviously based around coursework there is clearly a passion that drove the students to experiment and continue outside of required work (excellent) – Owl and Pussycat interactive book (Aurasma?)
Artmenis showcased so many excellent pieces of artwork that by the time I got the camera readyshe’d skipped another few slides – I hope to find her work on post links here later
Online studies while travelling through Cambodia! From teacher to student, from London to Cambodia. Remote access enabled unique cultural learning experience from both geographical and technological perspective with peers, from Asia to South America, gained close bonds and relationships long before actually meeting in person. Without mobile devices and (limited) available 3G or wifi hotspots this would not have been possible.
It’s not necessary to be in the classroom to study, but online and learning at a distance is not for everyone.
At no point has anyone talked about the VLE today, isn’t that strange!
There was such a maturity and confidence from these students that I can see why their proposals were chosen for the showcase, and the work they talked about should be seen as an inspiration to their peers and to the tutors – a whole-hearted ‘well done’, and the best applause was definitely saved just for them!
Sol Free Solitaire (iPhone/iPod): If you’ve a few minutes to spare between appointments or you’re sat in the dentists waiting room trying to ignore the sound of the dentists drill, then you don’t want to get involved in complicated gaming, you want a simple game of solitaire.
“Easy-to-read cards, iPhone 4 high-res graphics, Simple tap card movement, In-game rules, Statistics, Scoring, Moves tracking, Reversing layouts, Game restart”
This was one of the first apps I downloaded for the iPod Touch nearly 4 years ago, and it’s one I keep coming back to on the iPhone to pass the time. It’s simple interface and ad free (for the most part) makes it a game you can pick up and put down as often as you want.
With a selection of 7 different tiles of solitaire to choose from you can make it as hard as you want, or try and master a new type f card game without the fuss of a deck of cards and table, or embarrassing losses as you try and figure out the rules!
What quick and easy game do you have installed that you play in short, sharp bursts or prolonged periods?