Friday, June 13, 2014

Thing 23 - Evaluate 23 Mobile Things

Once again, I've enjoyed going through this process and learning new "Things" along the way. 

I'm going to answer the first number of questions together. By participating in this activity, I finally took the time to learn more about my iPhone (and update it!). I purchased an iPad. And I'm working with a Chromebook from school. Having all of these devices together was extremely helpful during the process because I could look at what was similar and what was different. As I mentioned earlier, we are in a state of transition and piloting both iPads and Chromebooks. So it was interesting to compare and contrast.

I will be using a number of the apps and adding them to my website as well such as Elm4You (with an explanation of the mobile version) and the Hennepin County Library app. In addition, as I said in one of my posts, I will be working on highlighting these apps for my staff and students so that they can easily find them and try them out. A couple others I really liked were Dragon Dictation and learning more about options for Infographics.

Regarding connecting with others, I did look through some of the blogs, and I'm hoping you post some of the user recommended apps. I suppose one positive feature of 23 Things is that you can complete the activities anywhere at any time on your own. So I didn't feel directly connected. But connected enough. It would be nice to promote in my school. So perhaps opening it up to teachers again is something to consider. 

As far as improvements, I liked that this version was very focused. The first round of 23 Things had a great deal of fabulous resources to read and go through. I did finish, but not on time. While completing the activities this time around, I did find myself checking the various devices I had on hand. So perhaps including Chromebooks in some way.

I would definitely participate again.

Description: mobile + learning = engagement (and fun)

Thing 22 - Discovering apps

I'm always curious how people discover all of these new apps, tools, etc. I took a look at Quixey and Apps Gone Free. I didn't find either of these options as helpful as doing the searches listed at the end of this Thing - which has been my typical method. I'm usually looking for something in particular or new in education. So entering specific search terms seems to be the most efficient way of finding apps and tools. 

There are also certain people/sources I like to follow like Garrison Sites, Leslie Fisher, Richard Byrne (freetech4teachers) and Joyce Valenza to name a few. 

Completing 23 Mobile Things has been helpful as well. As I mentioned, I will be updating my information resources and including many of the apps that have been shared in this site.

Thing 21 - Free-for-all

I've mentioned a few apps throughout this blog:

  • Evernote for note taking. It's been around for a while - which is a good thing. And I still see it on every list of recommended apps.
  • WeVideo / iMovie or some sort of video editing program. Every time I introduce students to video editing, they're so engaged. 
  • Google Drive for those of us using Google Apps for Education. Our students have quickly adopted these tools. 
For personal use:
  • WhatsApp - A friend introduced me to this app. It lets users text across platforms. I used this tool while traveling out of the country to correspond with my hosts. It worked great. It was recently purchased by Facebook. So I'm not sure how much it will change.
  • Since I live in Minneapolis, I added their Snow Emergency app which came in very handy this last winter. It was so much easier having this information right on my phone.
I'm looking forward to seeing what else is listed for this Thing!

Thing 20 - Games

I have to admit that I'm not a huge game person. I actually like to get outside either on a walk or in my garden to get a change from being in front of a screen or online. But a coworker introduced me to a game long ago, and it's my one online vice that I play every once in a while. I think it's because it has shiny, sparkly jewels... as in Bejeweled! And it's now on my iPad. 

I do think games or programs (apps) with game-like interfaces can be beneficial in education. When I taught K-5 media we used Type to Learn and the students really liked these sessions. They also enjoyed many other educational gaming sites. I will definitely explore more gaming apps for education. But it was fun to find Bejeweled and play a round.

Thing 18 - Education

Being a former science person, I had to check out Bill Nye the Science Guy app. It had an interesting mix of games, activities, videos, etc. It's been a while since I've taught science. But the videos certainly could be used to quickly show students the results of a chemical reaction. For example I watched one where steel wool reacted with oxygen. With the close up filming, I'm sure students would be interested. One of the games demonstrated the affects of gravity. 

I did try out another app called Show of Hands. It's interesting in that students can participate in nation-wide polls or create their own. One downside was that there was advertising for a casino at the bottom of the screen. So this app should be used with older students. The advertising provides a teachable moment with regard to how free apps actually make it to a person's mobile device. 

There were many more apps listed that I will have to pass on to my staff.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thing 19 - Hobbies

Just checked my iPad and Chromebook and found both Pandora and Spotify. I know that Spotify has become very popular recently, but I've been a fan of Pandora for quite a while. I like that I can just enter a song or artist and have Pandora play a selection of music rather than having to create a play list. I like the variety of this feature. This is one area where Pandora is rated over Spotify - music discovery. I will have to give Spotify another chance when I have more time. 

So I moved on to Vivino Wine Scanner. There have been a few bottles of wine that I wish that I would have recorded during my travels that I still think about... So the Vivino app seems like a no brainer. I just tried it on a bottle of wine we had here. How cool that it gave me all sorts of information just from a photo of the label. We will definitely be traveling to some wine areas this summer, so this app will get used. The wonders of technology!

Thing 17 - Connecting to community

Since we do a lot of hiking up north, the first app I loaded was for the Superior Hiking Trail. This app definitely brought the trail maps right to my iPad. This access is so handy for planning trips to this beautiful area.

Next, after checking out the app, I forwarded the information for the MN Beer Activists site to a number of people who I thought would be interested. I may have to jump ahead to Think 19 for the wine info. Very fun.

I was hoping that the Minneapolis Skyway app would help me to not become so incredibly lost downtown, but I couldn't find it. 

However, while looking for the skyway app, I also noticed an app for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This made me think that for school it would be helpful to check out if there are apps for some of the sites our students visit in order to prep them for the trip. Giving them this kind of background information is a great way for them to start thinking about questions and connections. 

Great to know that Minnesota is creating all these apps!