iPads and Field Experiences

This semester we are doing something different at UNI with one teacher education course. With the rapid diffusion of 1:1 schools throughout the state of Iowa, we thought it might be a good idea to try setting up a field experience course this way. We are taking it slow and are going to collect some data as we go so we can try to make better informed decisions. Here’s the general plan:

  • At the beginning of the semester, on day one, we provided 24 students enrolled in a professional development school field experience course with an iPad
  • We installed four apps for them (iMovie, Garageband, Keynote, Page) and then gave them full access to everything else on the iPad. Apart from being owned by UNI, it is their iPad for the semester
  • On the first day I did a very short overview of the iPad, since there were some who hadn’t used one before. I used Sugata Mitra as an inspiration for my overview and essentially left if up to the students to figure out how to use it
  • Throughout the semester the plan is to discuss during class ways they can use the iPad in their instruction and then start implementing those ideas each week as appropriate during their field experience
  • The professor is going to provide contextualized demonstrations for using the iPad effectively as an instructional tool periodically during the semester
  • Finally, the iPad is there as a resource for students to use as it’s needed, which is how it should be. Ubiquitous

I know this isn’t a lot, but we’re just starting this little experiment and I wanted to give an update on what’s happening here at UNI and TQP as it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. As things develop and there’s more to share, I will!


#iPad App of the Week: CloudOn

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I came across a useful app so I thought I’d share. The app is called CloudOn and it is an office app. It opens most files and for most people we really are only talking about Microsoft Office files. The app connects with Google Drive, Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Box, which means for most people it is going to integrate into a service you are already using. I found that feature to be the most beneficial since I don’t want to sync my content manually, which really is the biggest downfall for things like Pages or Keynote. That is unless you are using iCloud, but I don’t want another service either.

As far as the app features, the feel when you’re in an app is really like you are using Word or PowerPoint on a computer. For me that’s both good and bad, but in general I like it. The resolution seems a little low and words on the screen are a little pixelated, but it’s still acceptable. The navigation on the app is logical and flows easily. There’s also a decent tutorial at the beginning to help with learning the navigation within the app.

All in all, if you are looking for a free office app for the iPad, this one might be your ticket.  If you’re a Google Drive user, I’d probably still recommend the Drive app, but this one is probably a close second, especially if you are editing actual Word files and want some of the more Word features. It really depends on how you are going to use it on your iPad. For most of us, we likely aren’t doing a ton of document editing on the iPad, but this at least provides a nice option if we need to make some changes when we’re away from the computer.

The app is free.

10 apps that can enhance your lessons through UDL

This post is for a current course I’m taking for my Ed.D. program. So if it seems slightly more structured or a bit out of the ordinary, that is why.

Videolicious and Flexible Methods of Expression and Apprenticeship

Videolicious Collage
About the App: Videolicious is a video creation app that allows users to create videos using pictures and videos stored on the iPad. Then the user records their voice as they narrate the video. Music can also be added to the video. The video can be shared and saved to a variety of services, such as YouTube, Facebook, etc.

UDL Connection:As I look at how this app can be used to enable students multiple flexible methods of expression, I think about how the app allows the use of the images on the iPad and the voice of the student. I could imagine a lesson where a teacher looks to students to demonstrate some form of competency, say how to solve a problem. As the student solves the problem and begins thinking about how he or she could demonstrate that competency, he or she could either take pictures of how the problem was solved and then narrate it, or perhaps act out the way the problem was solved. This is taken a step further when a student uses or doesn’t use their voice to explain the process they went through, since using voice over is optional in this app.

iMovie and Flexible Methods of Presentation


About the App: iMovie is a great app for creating videos. While similar to Videolicious, iMovie has more functionality, such as the ability to add text to your video, which is why it is a great option for having flexible methods of presentation. Other features include access to the pictures and videos on the iPad, as well as the ability to record/capture new videos and images, addition of voice overs, and the capacity to rearrange images and clips into any order you’d like, which is a little cumbersome in an app like Videolicious. The video can be shared and saved to a variety of services, such as YouTube, Facebook, etc.

UDL Connection: The connection to UDL in this app is through the ability of a teacher or student to create a presentation through a number of different methods. For example, one way this app could be used is a student as part of a project needs to tell a story, say about the effect of pollution on the environment. The student could complete the presentation in a number of different ways using this app. A couple possibilities would be to take images of pollution in the local neighborhood and create a simple video with text explaining the effect that pollution is having on the surrounding area. Another possibility would be to use pictures saved from the Internet and narrate throughout the movie the different effects different types of pollution has on the environment. Yet another option would be to record live video about how to prevent pollution, such as through recycling. While the medium of the presentation is ultimately a video, the different ways the viewer interacts with the video can meet the needs of all learners through the use of video, audio, and text.

Skitch and Flexible Methods of Expression and Apprenticeship


About the App: Skitch is a drawing based app, but allows students to do much more. The features of this app include drawing with various colors and point sizes, drawing over objects such as pictures, text editing, and use of shapes. The app saves the image to the camera role, which can then be shared with other services.

UDL Connection: The key to this app being able to allow for multiple methods of expression lie with the ability to use images and being able to annotate over the top via drawings/handwritten notes, text, arrows, or other shapes. This compared with the ability to annotate on a blank canvas provide the multiple ways of expression. For many learners, annotating over a picture can help them demonstrate their knowledge easier, which some students are able to simple write, type, or draw on a blank canvas and have success. An Example of this in the classroom would be when students are learning how to plot curves on an xy intercept. Some students may find a graph paper image, while others may create their own using the arrows. Simple but effective.

Evernote and Flexible Methods of Expression and Apprenticeship


About the App: This app is primarily a note taking app, but it has the potential to change the way students are able to express themselves. The features of this app include the ability to type text, take pictures and save them to notes, create multiple notebooks, create audio notes, create audio notes with written text script, and the ability to share.

UDL Connection: This app really can create multiple methods for expression, because of the ability to do different types of notes. Through the use of one or more of the different types of notes, students can express their knowledge in a variety of ways, which means they are able to express themselves in the way that best meets their needs. For example, a student could save a series of pictures that show how they solved a problem, such as how to do long division. At the same time, another student could record themselves explaining the process they went through to solve the problem and include a picture of their work.

Twitter and Flexible Options for Engagement


About the App:Twitter is a social networking app that connects people together. The Twitter app’s features include the ability to share links, pictures, and videos in 140 characters or less. The app allows users access to all of their Twitter lists, searches, and other content on their Twitter profile.

UDL Connection: The connection to UDL here is with the variety of ways students can interact with other people through the pictures, videos, links, text, etc that users share with one another. Twitter, while a text stream in the most basic sense, can be much more when users post links to other content, links to videos, pictures, audio files, etc. For example, if a high school history student was interacting with a UNI professor over Twitter about the experience of sailors during WWII, the UNI professor could send the student links to primary sources, such as journals, official reports, video of veterans reflecting on their experiences during a depth charge attack. The list goes on. So by the virtue of being able to share content in a variety of ways, students are then enabled to interact in more flexible ways as they interact with others in the world. Simply ask and you may receive.

Facebook and Flexible Options for Engagement


About the App: The Facebook app is much like the Twitter app in that you can access all your content on Facebook through the app. Specific features include the ability to post content through text, images, and video. Users also have access to other users via instant messaging. Users receive notification when others interact with them. Users also have access to a multitude of content via apps, pages, and groups.

UDL Connection: Again, the connection to UDL is with the ability to interact with others in multiple ways. Here, however, students have the addition of instant messaging which isn’t entirely present in Twitter (although an argument could be made to the contrary). What makes Facebook different is the way students interact with the content, such as the use of groups and pages. For example, if I was teaching a US history course, I’d likely have a Facebook page for the wall where the students and I could share content and other information about what we are learning, how it connects to the real world, and have a place to ask questions. The content is grouped so as students come to the page, all the content about our topic would be in somewhat the same location on the wall, which means students have a number of different options to learn about the content with the freedom to choose the best option. This is all contingent upon developing a community that is willing to help curate that content in the course.

Prezi Viewer and Flexible Methods for Presentation


About the App: Prezi Viewer is an app where users can view or create presentations using the Prezi platform. In Prezi, users can upload documents, videos, audio files, images, and enter text. The presentation comes with the way the content is organized using the app. Presentations are linear if the number order system is used. However, they can be non-linear if the user does not use the number order system and just navigates to the areas of the presentation as needed.

UDL Connection: The UDL connection here is that this app allows student the freedom to create presentations in any way they feel is best for their learning needs. Students aren’t really limited in the kinds of media they can use to represent their knowledge. For example, a student could advocate for a change in local laws regarding youth curfews as part of a Government course using this app. The student could use a variety of images, videos, text, etc. to make his or her argument. However, another student making the same argument could stick primarily to text and image based content and make an equally as effective argument.

VoiceThread and Flexible Methods of Expression and Apprenticeship


About the App: VoiceThread is an app that allows users to communicate asynhronously with one another through the use of pictures and comments (text, audio, and video). Users can add multiple comments and pictures and can share those with others who in turn can add multiple comments and pictures. VoiceThreads can be shared with others and have the privacy settings restricted.

UDL Connection: The connection to UDL here is that students can express themselves through a variety of mediums, which is clearly seen if one searches the public VoiceThreads. For example, a class could create a VoiceThread around their American dream and each student could contribute a comment in any format and a picture that visualizes their American dream. In addition, the students could go into deeper inquiry with one another by commenting back to the original poster(s) of a comment.

Skype and Flexible Options for Engagement

Skype 2

About the App: This app is a audio/video conferencing and instant messaging app. Users can voice call, video call, or text message another Skype user. Users can also pay to call regular phone numbers at so much a minute.

UDL Connection: This app connects well with multiple options for engagement, because students are able to connect with others in a number of different ways. For example, say students in an industrial technology course were engaged in an engineering project and have a connection with a local engineer firm in their city who has offered to work one-to-one with students throughout the project. As students progress through the project the students regularly contact their engineer buddy through Skype using either a voice or video call or through a text message. The method they use depends on the type of question they have. Many times, students might just need to ask a quick question about a material and others they may need to show their engineer buddy their progress so they can identify why their machine doesn’t work. Yet again, the student may not understand a concept and the engineer offers to walk the student through the process in an audio call. At the end of the day, there are options for students and the users they are connecting with to make this app UDL friendly.

Screen Chomp and Flexible Methods of Expression and Apprenticeship

ScreenChomp About the App: This app allows users to demonstrate their knowledge by annotating on a white canvas or over the top of an image. While similar to Skitch, this app allows users to record their voice as they work through a problem or express a though. This app has some sharing features.

UDL Connection: The connection to UDL is with the different ways students can demonstrate their knowledge. For example, students could simply write their solution to bullying problems faced by a school or they could write a few talking points out and then go into more depth by recording their reflection of the bullying problems in the school and how they could be solved.

**BONUS: I thought I’d add a bonus UDL iPad feature because I think it can be very useful in helping student consume content in a more flexible way. On the iPad there are assistive technology options from zooming to screen reading. The feature I like the screen reader function. Once this is activated, all a user needs to do is highlight a section of text and touch speak. Then the iPad will read aloud the highlighted text.  This could be very helpful when students need to listen to someone else say what they’ve written. While the voice may not be the best, it does help identify poorly structured sentences.

iPad Literacy

Paper Weight iPad

A colleague of mine emailed me a link to this article and I thought it was very interesting in the approach the author took when developing knowledge about the iPad.  The author clearly articulates the frustration many have with the iPad as not being a computer, making it difficult for many people to find a meaningful use for the device.  She reference iPad Fluency and Literacy in her discussion, which makes a lot of sense given the high paced, multi-literacy world we live.  Traditionally, literacy was pretty straightforward and only meant one thing.  Now, literacy is very dynamic with multiple meanings depending on the context it is used.

Here is a link to the article.  It’s a great read with ten useful apps that may assist you as you develop your iPad Literacy.  Enjoy!

I wanted to share with you an article about becoming fluent on the iPad.  It seems as we as a society become more advanced in a variety of ways, new literacies are created that require us to re-think how we interact within the world we live.  The iPad, to an extent, has done this as well.  Many people, including myself at one point, found the concept of the iPad difficult to comprehend.  It’s not a laptop and not a phone, so what does it do?  This article does a great job of explaining how an iPad can function as a meaningful TOOL rather than as simply a toy or paper weight.  This article also has a list of apps that may help you develop an iPad literacy.  If you see an app you like, download it.  If the app costs money, let us know and we will pay for it out of TQP.

#iPad app of the week: iMovie

This week I took a look at the iMovie for iPad app.  This is a new app for me as I just bought it about a week ago.  I don’t make too many movies anymore, but I do predict that I’ll need the ability to do this on the fly, which is why I invested in the app.  I’ve used the full version of iMovie for years now and I love that application, but the app for iPad is a very stripped down version.

The first thing I noticed about the app was how easy it was to use.  Pictures, video, and music are easily added, and you can create voiceovers and take new video very quickly through the user interface.  There is a basic timeline, just like in the full version and to move forward and backward in the timeline you just use your finger to drag the contents back and forth.  Very intuitive.  I also liked the sharing features this app is integrated with as well.  You can share to your Camera Roll, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, CNN iReport, as well as send your movie to iTunes to sync with your computer when you dock your iPad.  Movies can be exported in three different sizes, Medium: 360p, Large: 540p, and HD: 720p.

After playing with the app and creating a low end video, I found that some of the features I like weren’t available.  The biggest one was not being able to change all the times of the stills at one time.  There are handle bars for each picture that need to be changed for each picture.  I also didn’t like that I was forced to use the Ken Burns Effect.  I tend to like the effect, but there are times, like today, when I don’t want to use the effect.  However, I found that if I tried to match up the start and end spots that it would be okay.  Another problem I found was the inability to zoom out on a picture beyond its width.  In the movie below I wanted to show the whole picture, but had to settle for the width of the picture and adjust my view accordingly.  The transitions were a little difficult to modify, but I eventually figured out the double tap system, which applies to a variety of features in the app.

All in all, this was an okay app.  I’ll likely use it when I am at conferences and take a quick video using the iPad and post it to YouTube or something like that.  Truly a content creation app and quite affordable at $4.99.  I’d probably recommend it with the caveat that it doesn’t have all the features as the desktop version.  If that’s what you’re looking for, this isn’t it.

Here is a sample video I created using the app:

You can find screenshots here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmourlam/6009300872/

#iPad app of the week: Keynote

It’s that time again, which means another iPad app review.  This week I’m looking at the Keynote app, which is the iPad version of the desktop application.  The Keynote app is part of the iWork suite and is a nice presentation creator for the iPad.  Overall I like the app, even though I don’t like doing “PowerPoint-ish” presentations, there are some decent features which make this a handy resource when travelling and presenting.
  When you first open Keynote, you see all the presentations you’ve made or synced with your iPad.  If it’s your first time, then there is a Getting Started guide that really goes into depth with the product and how to do some basic tasks.  I actually found the guide quite helpful, which is surprising since I’m used to those guides explaining how to do everything in very detailed steps, leaving a guide about the length of War and Peace.  To create a new presentation, there is a + symbol in the top left you can push and a number of themes appear making it easy to create a decent looking presentation with little effort.

The layout is pretty much what you would expect.  The slides are listed on the left side, there is a simple toolbar at the top and the play button is in the top right.  Keynote has the ability to insert a variety of media, such as: images, sound, video, tables, charts, and shapes.  Editing text is also very simple.  All it takes is a double tap to on the text box and the keyboard appears.  There are a variety of slides, such as title slides, the standard bulleted slide, pictures slides, etc.  There is also an undo button, which can also redo if you press and hold.  While the picture above doesn’t show it, there is a way to edit the fonts, which is using the info button.  All the standard features are there, such as: font size, color, lists, arrangement, styles, etc.  There are also animation and transitions, as well as the ability to share your presentation to iTunes, email, etc., in either the native Keynote format, or in PowerPoint or PDF formats.  Keynote also has the ability to open your PowerPoint presentations that you sync via iTunes, which truly is handy.

Another useful feature is the laser pointer feature.  I never use them, but I suppose it could be helpful for some.  To activate it press and hold during the slideshow and a little red dot will appear.  You can then move your finger around to different parts of the slide as necessary.

And finally, the best feature, in my opinion, is the ability to organize your presentations into folders.  This is especially helpful if you teach multiple subjects or even if you just want to keep your presentations organized by topic.  You can have as many presentations in a folder as you wish and you can personalize each folder’s name.  Again, pretty basic, but truly essential for those who do a number of presentations.

All in all, I like the Keynote app.  Looking at how I plan to use the iPad, this will certainly make travelling to presentations throughout the state much easier since I won’t need to lug my laptop around everywhere I go.  This app costs $9.99.  This is certainly a content creation app, but I still want to stress the need to not make presentations that “PowerPoint people to death!”  Remember, people can read and they really want to hear what you can say.  For more tips on making a more effective presentation, check out this post.

Attached is the presentation I created using the Keynote for iPad app.  Unfortunately, WordPress will not allow me to upload the Keynote version of the presentation, but here is the  PowerPoint version: Video Conferencing in Methods Classroom.


I GOT AN IPAD!!!! I’ve been wanting one since I left Cherokee and I finally received one as part of the grant. All the faculty and some of the staff in the grant received an iPad to help with the mobility needs we have with the pilot project. While I will certainly take advantage of the mobility aspects of the iPad, I also have other motives I wish to fulfill with this new technology. So over the next few months I will be publishing an iPad Blog Series that highlights a useful and educationally relevant aspect of the iPad. In particular I think I will focus on two areas. The first will be content creation. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard about the iPad has been that it isn’t a content creation device, when I think that just isn’t true. There are loads of creation apps available, but the key is knowing how to leverage those in a meaningful way. The second area I focus on will be content consumption. While I think there are a number of content creation uses for the iPad, there are also a number of content consumption ways to use the iPad, which is equally valuable. I’m going to try to do a new series post every week. They will likely be short and to the point. I encourage you to add your thoughts, provide push back, and to ask questions, as this will help make the series more meaningful and interesting for everyone. If there is something you’d like to see me try, just leave a comment and let me know. If it’s free I’ll likely give it a try and if the app doesn’t cost too much and looks like something I’ll use, I’ll likely buy it.

Oh, by the way, this blog post was created using the WordPress app which is free. The WordPress app is an app that allows you to view your blog posts, comments, pages, stats, AS WELL AS, post new posts, which can include file attachments, video, and images. Enjoy the picture below of me taken with the forward facing camera!