Apple has just released a big update to iTunes U, which in the process will probably cannibalize similar well established educational classroom management services from Showbie and Edmodo. Apps like these allow communication, feedback and setting and receiving of class assignments.
For the uninitiated, iTunes U is a repository of free educational courses from certified institutions around the world. Previously it had been a rather one way affair, with institutes able to put lectures and class materials for students to consume. The attraction for teachers is that it is a hugely simple process to create a cool looking, accessible course for all the world to see. The new update makes iTunes U more of a proper classroom in that you can now set an assignment as a teacher and you can get your students to do it on their iPad. The best bit is they can turn it in using iTunes U, and you can seamlessly send a grade and a comment back to them, all saved in your and their iTunes U. Continue reading →
WriteReader for iPad has clearly had a lot of thought go into it from an educational and technical perspective. It’s main USP is that it will help to develop your child’s writing through using phonetically based sounds to create words which can be turned into a publishable eBook. However, does it live up to it’s promise?
WriteReader has a lot of financial backing and it heralds from Denmark. It’s modus operandi is to teach children to write. I would say that the app should be aimed at reluctant writers who have a lot of parental support. I also don’t believe it is the sort of app your child could use effectively without direct assistance from an adult.Continue reading →
We had our family summer holiday in France this year and although I have plenty of French words stored in my head (thanks to my grammar drilling French teacher Miss Chettle), my pronunciation is terrible. In fact, it’s a bit like watching one of those comedy movies where someone totally out of their depth tries to speak a foreign language and ends up shouting and pointing everywhere. Thankfully for me, Triomphe, a new iPad app aimed at teaching French to school children has been recently released.
Presentation software. You either love it, or live with it. There isn’t too much in between. For years PowerPoint was the market leader, but the goliath of the PC presentation world hasn’t really kept up with presenting in the mobile world. It has left a niche in the market for other developers to leap in to banish WordArt, Clip Art and crazed animations to the same place that Clippy the paperclip now resides. There are lots of decent iPad presentation apps available. Keynote is probably the best known, but others like Haiku Deck, SlideShare and now FlowBoard EDU are adding some well thought out features to presenting on the iPad. Continue reading →
Every iPad user has that app he or she uses when they have some time to blow. Generally, it’s something that isn’t very constructive. Some entail throwing birds at pigs, while others reading through gigantic amounts of news you’re never going to use. For those of us who want to be more constructive, however, there’s a different app, and its name is Duolingo. Duolingo allows you to learn a new language, right on your iPad. You can learn Italian, Portuguese, German, French, or Spanish with the app. More languages are coming soon, and just in case you need help understanding this article, you can learn English as well.
Back in primary school I remember learning about the internals of the human body by constructing a digestive system out of toilet rolls. Needless to say, that summer I probably used more toilet tissue than I needed too in an effort to get enough toilet rolls together. The results were awesome though. I plonked a marble through the cardboard oesophagus and proudly demonstrated to my parents the wonders of the human digestive system. I’m assuming my model had the equivalent of the runs as my marble got through in about 5 seconds. Now, the days of such eco-unfriendly learning are behind us and Zybright have released a great app called My Incredible Body, which I would say is aimed at ages 4-13. Continue reading →
Being a teacher and a die hard geek, I’ve long been searching for a way to take my courses online in a meaningful way where students can engage in their work in Martini fashion (anytime, anywhere, not drunk). There have been lots of, what we might call ‘Virtual Learning Environments’ over the last ten years, some terrible (I’m naming no names here) and some pretty good. There has always, however, been the stumbling block that the student still has to go somewhere to get hold of course materials, ie to a computer. What I have long been after is a medium where the work goes seamlessly to the student, and likewise, the teacher can create courses in an effective, time efficient way. We might just have found this with iTunes U 2.0 which has been recently updated by Apple. Continue reading →
As any teacher will tell you, the last thing they want to be doing is faffing around with technology during a lesson. An easy way for a lesson to go quickly south is to be relying on a piece of technology to work there and then, and it suddenly doesn’t. Cue descent into chaos and a carefully planned lesson unravelling. This is one of the reasons why the iPad is so appealing in education, because it isn’t a faff (and this is coming from an Android fan). There are also certain apps on the iPad which work in an extremely straightforward way and do something very useful in the classroom. Classroom PDF is one of those apps. Continue reading →
I’ve been interested in space for as long as I can remember and I was trying to wrack my brains to figure out exactly what it was that got me into it. In a dark corner of my brain, a book appeared: The Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopaedia. I remember having the abridged version as a kid and the space chapter fascinated me. If you are of a certain age you will remember the carefully sketched, cross section diagrams of US and Soviet rockets, and the occasional picture of Neil Armstrong on the Moon, or Yuri Gagarin floating around in space. The problem with the traditional encyclopaedia is that it is out of date as soon as it is printed, which was as true in the 1920s, when my mate Arthur started writing, as it is now. Thankfully for us, iPad apps change all of this with regular updates to apps and iBooks, and today’s children can have up to date information at their fingertips.
Here is a round up of some apps which will help introduce, or further your child’s knowledge of space. This article will list them in age appropriate order, youngest first. Continue reading →
When I first started teaching, I marvelled at my colleague’s neatly tended mark books. The amazing array of handwritten marks, numbers and codes in different coloured pens were almost like a work of art. Unfortunately for me two of my greatest weaknesses are record keeping on paper, and filing paper. I also thought I didn’t want to hang on to physical mark books for years on the off chance the inspector came knocking. As a result I started my quest for a digital solution. Nothing really fit the bill – Excel was not portable around the classroom, Google Sheets didn’t have the flexibility. I even bought my ancient PDA out of retirement for a term. In desperation I started looking into writing my own app. Luckily for me, this is when I stumbled across iDoceo. Continue reading →
Back in the days of my GCSE and A-Level revision there always seemed to be an unofficial contest as to who had the most revision cards. Firstly, there was the annual race to Tescos to snap up their supply of index cards and then late evenings spent filling out a word, then an explanation of that word on the back. It was a sort of geeky version of the ‘business card’ scene in American Psycho the next day in school, with people standing around comparing revision cards. Me, I always lost out on the contest, mainly because I’d be too busy playing Sensible Soccer on my Amiga to do anything as thorough as revision. Times have changed now though, and the boot is on the other foot. I’m the person trying to get teenage kids to revise. As we all know, revision is a completely personal thing and there is no silver bullet to it, but there are quite a few apps which try to streamline the process. One of these is the newly released Synopsis. In a nutshell, Synopsis is a PDF e-reader with the ability to make revision, or flash cards from any text you highlight. Continue reading →