Tag Archives: iTunes

Blackboard Mobile Learn App

Blackboard Mobile Learn App – examples?

Here’s the question … has anyone designed a Blackboard course purely from the perspective of working from the Mobile Learn App? Is it a mobile-friendly Bb course, or is it in fact a mobile-first approach to course design?

In my very unscientific approach I have seen differences between content I have loaded to a Blackboard (Bb) course and how it is displayed in the browser and in the App, but I’ve not seen what a Bb course looks like if it’s been designed purely for access and interactions through the App. Here’s why i’m asking:

  • I suspect that no one has built one yet.
  • I suspect that the course, designed for mobile, would not work well for a desktop  learner.
  • I suspect that some elements, like tables and other “customization” approaches (as Bb refers to them), will not work pedagogically when we follow the Bb guide and the “suggest adding these content types as a PDF file” advice.
  • Can you create a good ‘design’ that allows for good pedagogy in the restrictions imposed by the App (images, files, layout, screen real-estate, etc.)?

I see plenty of resources that mimic the Bb help pages and resources, but none that actually explain and/or showcase good ‘design’. If you have examples, or links, or screenshots, or reports, or journal articles you can share with the rest of us then please leave them in comments below.

Iron Stairs / Mobile Learning

Mobile Learning

Iron Stairs / Mobile LearningI will hold my hands up and say I want an experience of ‘good’ mobile learning.

I know there are (or rather should be, we’ve been talking about it for long enough now) examples out there, but I haven’t ‘seen’ them. I have tried using mobile devices and a browser, I’ve tried Institutional VLEs and downloadable ‘courses’ through iTunes and iTunesU. I’ve tried different Apps (some linked to VLEs and some not) yet none were particularly any good and certainly not good enough to stop me going back to a desktop or laptop PC. I look forward to seeing how FutureLearn works as it is supposed to be developed with the mobile learning at the fore, but do not necessarily want to limit myself to MOOCs, or indeed MOOCs from one provider.

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eBooks Could Be The Future Of Social Media

eBooks could be the future of Social Media

eBooks Could Be The Future Of Social Media

“In the future, e-books will act just like social networks. We’ll use them on our phones, share and comment right inside e-reader apps, and publishers will use our data to help them make better marketing decisions. If you think digital reading is exploding now, just wait.”

So says Michael Grothaus in his article for the FastCompany website: “E-Books Could Be The Future Of Social Media”.

“In the future, e-books are going to explode beyond just containing stories, becoming niche social networks where we discuss our favorite passages with other readers and even authors and publishers buy our data to make more informed decisions. So hold on tight, book lovers. Reading as we know it will soon change, forever.”  Continue reading


‘PlainText’ App

PlainTextPlainText (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”

PlainText (Free): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/plaintext-dropbox-text-editing/id391254385

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.
  • Continue reading

Durham Blackboard Users Conference

13th Durham University Blackboard Users Conference #durbbu

Durham Blackboard Users ConferenceThe Durham University Blackboard Users Conference on January 8/9, 2013 is all about ‘Make do or Spend?‘ next year (spelt ‘sp£nd’ – see what they did there?) with the focus clearly on the VLE (or other technologies) and how well we use it in the face of stiff competition for student numbers in the current economic climate.

You can follow the growing Twitter backchannel on the #durbbu hashtag.

With a choice of 25 or 40 minute presentations, 40 minute workshop, or a 60 minute panel discussion the event looks to attract a good crowd and diverse set of discussions and presentations.

Read the Call for Papers if you’re interested or register for an early-bird rate Conference.

From past couple of years I’ve followed the Durham event I found the following of interest, either because I follow their work or because, at the time of presentation, the topic piqued my interest:

See you in January!


Amazon Cloud Player App

Amazon Cloud Player App

Amazon Cloud Player AppAmazon 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.”

Amazon Cloud Player (Free): http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/amazon-cloud-player/id510855668

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.

YouTube: Amazon Cloud Player

Here are some images from the iPhone version of the artist, album, song listing screens as well as the player itself and settings:

Educational Toolf for Teachers

Elements of a Digital Classroom #edtech

Thanks for Sue Beckingham for sharing this infographic on Pinterest over the weekend: “Elements of a Digital Classroom”.

Elements of a Digital Classroom
Click to view full ‘Elements of a Digital Classroom’ infographic

It seems all infographics must contain some new information or viewpoint on the eBook vs textbook scenario, and this one is no different. But, while it looks at a large range of digital ‘tools’ available, it is the way in which it seemed to link Blackboard, Moodle, and iTunesU together as tools open source ‘classroom management’ tools (below) … is it? Did I miss something here – “Open source software is increasing in popularity when it comes to online classroom management. These tools are customisable to a school’s individual need and allows students to access course materials on demand, outside of the classroom.” I don’t think anything Apple related will even be open source?

Educational Toolf for Teachers


The Future of Education: EPIC 2020

Thanks to Jane Hart and Jay Cross for directing me to this video:

“2011, Badges as credentials, 160,000 students in a MOOC, peer-ratings = students teaching students, Udacity charges 20% finder’s fees for grads, MITx, TEDed, free, student loan overhang, tuition going up …. free content, pay only for assessment, transferable credits based on ability, Apple buys Amazon, iTunesU becomes the ed app platform, preference matching, Google buys Udacity and Khan Academy, tied to education model, most colleges wait it out as badges replace degrees, residential college campuses are for the children of the wealthy only, Google unleashes EPIC the all-knowing learning system, 2020”

Take it with a pinch of salt, but think about how feasible this scenario is?

“In 2018 badges replace degrees as the preferred skill validation for companies. Except for the elite Universities companies no longer recruit on campus, preferring instead the lifelong learning and training approaches of ‘Apple-zon’ and Google.”


“EPIC – the Evolving Personal Information Construct. EPIC not only understands everything that you know but also it knows everything that you need to know to be successful in your professional, social, and personal life. EPIC constructs and provides just-in-time knowledge and information that keeps you current and synchronised with everyone around you.”

Upgrading my iPhone to iOS5

Well, iOS5 is here and there are stories galore doing the rounds on the Internet at the moment about the various successes and failures of the upgrade.

I waited for about a week to upgrade simply as I figured everyone else would try the first day or two after it was made available, for all the various phone and iPad devices it works on.

So, first big hurdle is having to update iTunes (again) to the recent version (10.5), which required a PC re-start – the first of how many tonight I wonder … ?

  • 15 minutes so far!

Exciting weekend entertainment ... iOS5 update! #sadlife on Twitpic Exciting weekend entertainment … iOS5 update! #sadlife

Connecting the iPhone is always a scary proposition (an update in the past went spectacularly wrong a year or so back), especially with such a big upgrade about to happen (or not). The usual ‘accept the new T&Cs or doom yourself to always being behind the upgrade cycle’ form pops up after the re-start, then ‘it’ begins. Oh wait, I need to update some apps first, so I have to wait before I can connect the phone to start the process we’re here for …

  • going on for 30+ minutes so far …

And then the message to make you quake in your boots …

iOS5 here we go (after restart) ... #stillsad on Twitpic
iOS5 here we go (after restart) … #stillsad

iOS5 progress ... #ComeOn #HurryUp  on Twitpic
iOS5 progress … #ComeOn #HurryUp

  • 62 minutes after starting I’ve at least finished downloading the 774mb upgrade file(s) from Apple, now the long wait while the phone is backed up and new software installed.
  • 85 minutes in and the restore begins …

So, what is the iOS5 going to give me, what are these 200+ new features (obviously not Siri, that’s the 4S phone only):

#restore ... please! on Twitpic
#restore … please!

Finally, after about 100+ minutes the phone is listed in iTunes again, and then the re-install of all the apps, photos, music, videos, etc begins … I feel a sense of achievement in getting this far without any trouble.

However, all was not well during the restore phase – the phone was not recognised after the update and I had to disconnect and reconnect it several times before it was recognised and the restore of photos, music, etc went ahead. Yes, I did a little dance when it started working again (2 hours now … and counting)!

But wait, what’s this …

Now I have no idea if the upgrade is syncing with PC or the cloud ... to stop or continue, that is the question? #stillgoing
David Hopkins

OK, I adjusted the settings on the phone to sync to the PC and it finished about 3 minutes later.

So, all in all, it took 2 hours 15 minutes from start to finish .. and I’ve got to re-order my apps as there are some new ones that have forced my carefully planned apps/pages all over the place … and I’ve some new features to learn too.

Right … now for the iPod Touch and then the iPad … maybe not tonight!

 Just to keep me entertained during the upgrade, I read these posts/stories about the horrors that others had encountered when upgrading … silly me!