iTunes U – A Vital Educational App

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itunes uThe most astonishing thing about iTunes U when it launched was the sheer number of universities and educators who offered their invaluable insight and knowledge to iTunes users for free. Despite all the paid-for campus-based education and Open University opportunities, here were a group of educational institutions with formidable reputations placing their brains down at the feet of those who wanted to learn anything from physics to philosophy and beyond.

While the ‘U’ is of course also used by university students who had missed a lecture and needed to catch up, it also offers the general public free education in a multitude of subjects via computer or even iPhone. But the iTunes U experience has finally come into its own with the launch of the iPad App, which takes all the video, audio, written and image content and collects it into a course-specific binder for you to browse through like you would if you were sitting in the lecture hall with the genuine article.

The difference between a ring binder and your iPad, however, is that the binder can’t play video or audio from inside its pages, or access courses from other universities, like Stanford, Yale, MIT and Oxford. It also offers the resources of institutions like the New York Public Library, realizing the full educational potential of a tablet. It has now become easier not only to be a student in full-time education, but to be one in addition to holding down a day job, raising a family, or even travelling, as those who have a 3G iPad can pull down new course information on the move. Previously, we’ve published an article about things you can do with your iPad. Tom Barrett’s 100+ ways to use iPads in the classroom will really help you create a fun digital play day with your students.

It’s also an incredibly social learning experience, should you want it to be, and it’s this feature that those growing up around social media are going to be most interested in. Not only can you tweet some class notes but you can also send them to your friends via messaging and email from within the app itself, allowing everyone to stay on track, to discuss their last lecture, and to plan for the next seminar. Not a bad feature and one that’s going to prove vitally important when working on a group project or as part of a study group.

It’s also fully integrated with any relevant iOS Apps, such as iBooks, Apple’s reader app that works with most formats, from plain text to HTML5 and Javascript. This means even more media in your courses and, additionally, interactive learning. It’s an impressive suite of tools overall, and of course, bar some of the paid-for advanced courses; the entire thing is free – as education should be. You can also get the iBooks Author which allows teachers to create and to share textbooks and for students to start practicing their writing skills digitally.

Apple has always been passionate about education, so it’s no great surprise that something like the iTunes U app has come into existence. But to know that it offers such a wide range of educational materials — as well as fully integrated media, social sharing and of course, optimization for learning on your iPad — is exciting. Learning just became significantly more convenient and hands-on.

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A Guide to Mobile Street Photography

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Mobile devices have been used to capture images that touch people’s curiosity. Oliver Lang, co-founder of Mobile Photography Network said, “I believe that mobile photography is an incredibly personal journey, shared by millions of people around the world.” Street photography can make that shared connection more powerful. A good mobile street photographer can give valuable insights to lives, evoke emotions and give the viewers a perspective on the human condition.

Mobile Street Photography 1

Photo credit: Ed Sweeney

What Makes a Good Mobile Street Photographer?

There are so many mobile devices to choose from. It would certainly help if you have the newest device. We have read about the Samsung Galaxy S4’s 13-megapixel camera, which is the largest in the mobile market so far. It would certainly produce clear and sharp images when taking snaps on the street.

Now that you have your photography gear set up, it’s time to go out and find a subject. It is best that you set one of your phone’s shortcuts to camera after unlocking it. This would lessen the time that you spend fiddling with the menu of your phone to turn the camera on. Keep your applications on the front menu as well.

Mobile Street Photography 2

Photo credit: Jesus Leon

Keep it quiet. Discretion is very important in the streets, especially if you are planning to take candid photos. Keeping things in low profile sets the mood of a more natural looking photograph. It allows you to capture real emotions as they happen. Along with being discreet comes respect. Do not take photographs of people just because you can do so without being noticed. Think of the message that you want to send across.

Another basic but important thing that you have to remember is having enough power. Charge your battery before you go out for a shoot. Don’t forget to bring extra ones if you think that you will be out for a long time. Looking for a place to charge your battery takes out precious time and you might miss out on great opportunities.

One of the golden rules in street photography is quality over quantity. Remember that not every shot is worth sharing. Follow your instincts. Opportunities and street moments happen randomly and fleetingly. If you feel like taking a shot, take it. You can delete unusable photos at a later time. You can also choose to be patient and wait for the right moment. Observe people and what they are doing. Look at the surroundings and see if you can incorporate the things around you to tell a story.

The Good and the Exceptional

There is nothing wrong about taking photographs of common things that you find interesting. Make your images stand out by showing passion, creativity and social relevance. Composition is the key to creating powerful images. Let your photos transport your audience to the world that you presented to them.

Mobile Street Photography 3

Photo credit: Geraint Rowland

Are you new to street photography or are you experiencing some creative block? Try hunting for some of these items to help you take that phone out of your pocket and start shooting again.

  • Look for items that cast interesting shadows
  • Reflections
  • Children playing
  • People waiting for a bus
  • Train station
  • Feet
  • Looking outside the frame
  • Heads turned back
  • Traffic
  • Empty streets

App Review: TeacherPal

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TeacherpalAs long as you’re equipped with the right productivity tools, the iPad can be as useful as you want it to be in the classroom. The most effective productivity app for educators is the TeacherPal from ITWorx. As an educator, having this great solution spares you the burden of keeping a gradebook, taking attendance, and other aspects of classroom management. The app helps in the iPad’s main goal as a productivity tool, which is streamlining data from formative assessments.

Aside from this, how can the app help in securing classroom management and interaction? 

Easy to use and navigate

TeacherPal has an easy to navigate interface, allowing you to freely touch, scroll, and swipe through the iPad. This is the same technique mastered by the CaringHands app, which is one of the 10 winners of Verizon’s Innovative App Challenge. In just a few movements of your fingers, you will be able to condense the volume of work, giving students a neat package of information. Plus, these pieces of information can be transferred in the iCloud, where students can access them on the go. With the app, you don’t have to worry about bringing cumbersome binders full of documents all the time. 

Individual classes

The application is perfect for educators who have more than two classes. The tool has the ability to keep all the separated information from each class, avoiding the problem of switching student details and the dedicated learning modules for each group. You can create as many classes as you need which can be deleted or edited based on your preference. A big plus is that the website hosts a virtual conference where users and the developer convene.

Lesson Plans

Unlike most lesson plan apps, ITWorx doesn’t allow you to make your class modules. Instead, it helps you track the progress of your lesson plans through a calendar. From the calendar option, you can indicate the date, period, title, and necessary notes. Moreover, you can tap the checkbox if you intend to utilize a lesson plan more than once, just denote the exact day and time of use. This feature works as a real classroom; if there is no lesson plan entered for the day, the Attendance feature won’t function.

Attendance Feature

Whether for Math, Science, or other subjects; the Attendance option is always accessible for real-time updating. This is an easy way of helping educators check student involvement. For easier navigation, you can include a picture for each student. There is also a dedicated button at the top, which you can toggle if all learners are present.

Access to student profile

The tool is a great alternative to the physical seat plans, where you have to congest all student notes in a small box. When you tap a student’s photo, you will be given four tabs: attendance record, personal information, grades, and behavior.

 

3·         Attendance record

This gives a detailed tally of the student’s absences, complete with the dates and notes.

·         Personal Information

This tab houses the student’s email address, as well as the parents’ number, email, and phone number.

·         Grades

This feature won’t give you access to edit or to change a student’s grade. Instead, it will give you a tabular view of all the assignments and the grades that the student obtained.

·         Behavior

In this panel, you can keep all of the student’s positive and negative remarks. You can create a special note for every incident, allowing you to indicate event details, date, and time.

If I had an iPad in class I’d…

1.   During Music class, you can link your students to some of the newest sheet music and instrumental modules.

2.   In group or individual activities, you can disseminate a Google form for each learner, containing a checklist of all the skills being evaluated in that particular experiment.

3.   In just a tap, you can record the student’s progress which will be put into a Microsoft Excel sheet. During parent-teacher meetings, you can show this to their parents for reliable feedback.

The best thing about this app is that you can get the most of classroom management without spending a single penny. What do you think of this app?

Apps: The Artist’s Tools in the Digital Age

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Being an artist is not all fun and games. Creating works of art requires hard work, patience, talent and great inspiration. Ideas can pop up anywhere, in any form. With the introduction of portable devices like smartphones, tablet PCs, and digital cameras, capturing inspiration became easier. So it doesn’t matter if you’re strolling down the street, riding the bus or even sitting on a park bench collecting inspiring photos and writing down ideas is a cinch.

Artist Tools in the Digital Age

Image courtesy of: Lauren Manning

Although traditional media of art like a blank canvass, block of wood, or a sketchbook is still being used, modern artists are exploring digital mediums. Software and apps are slowly becoming an artist’s new pen, chisel, and brush of choice.

Music is an Artist’s Best Friend

Every artist has their own playlists when they are working on a project. Music can help boost one’s creative juice and set the artistic mood as well.

Sountracking is great app to create and manage your song choices. It allows users to share their song lists via email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Foursquare. The best feature of this app is the integration of music playing and interaction of users with others.

Alternative Tools of your Choice 

Making a project board is a common tool for artists when they are still in the process of conceptualizing the theme of their project. Moodboard can be your best partner for the job. Easily import or upload photos directly from the web, edit photos and organize them into working ideas. It supports high resolutions images and export finished projects to PDF and PNG formats. This app is recommended for photographers, artists and even filmmakers.

Sketchbooks have helped artists practice their craft for decades. Luckily, Autodesk Inc crossed the digital divide and gave us an intuitive app- Sketchbook Pro. It has more than 60 pre-loaded brushes, markers, and pencils; this app has everything an artist would need. Brushes can be customized to fit your creative needs. Images imported from your tablet or iPad with ease and then lay them out through various layers. Once your project is finished, upload them via iTunes, iCloud, or Dropbox, and access it from any device.

Socialmatic, the geniuses behind the hit app, Instagram, worked with a camera company to develop the Insta-Cam. What started out as a concept became a reality after Polaroid and C&A got wind of the project. This app is designed after the popular Instagram icon—square, slim, and it still has a retro-rustic feel to it. Users can take pictures, apply their filters, and print it via its built-in mini printer. It’s also Wi-Fi enabled to easily upload pictures to your social media account. The Insta-Cam will be launched by 2014.

If you’re an iPad user, Paper is one of the best apps for you. Draw lines, sketches, and doodles at the spur of the moment. With Paper, you can also write and treat it as a journal. Use its extensive library of brushes and filters to suit your mood and need. Also, this app is optimized of the iPad’s Retina Display, giving you a clear view on your projects. This app can be streamed and shared on social sites like Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. For artists who want simplicity, install Paper and draw to your heart’s content.

Typography is one of the most important elements in design. Sometimes, we just need to know that particular font to complete our design. Thanks to WhatTheFont app, it makes it easier to find a particular font. Just take a picture of the font via your smartphone and let WhatTheFont due its job: finding that elusive font. Now, you won’t lose sleep on a project and proceed with it.

What other digital tools do you have in mind? Share it with me by commenting below.