21st Century Education: Integrating Apps in Learning

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There are different kind of students; the academe, over-achievers, jocks, queen-bees and happy-go-lucky types, who are too cool for school until it’s almost time for graduation. I can find one thing in common with them:

“these students spend lots of time with their mobile devices”

and so educators must learn to peak their student’s interest and alter their teaching technique that is best suited for the current trend in learning but at the same time still be in accordance to the school’s standards. 59 percent of students use mobile phones to study, while 93 percent of them use their Smartphone to access study apps, so why not start adopting a few changes in your teaching strategies?

Mobile Learning

Some teachers gave-in to the TechEd evolution and tried the following:

(1)  Spearheaded (BYOD) Bring Your Own Device programs

Encourage your students to use of their gadgets in class to boost their learning productivity. Involving these medium for learning will help them utilize and optimize their usage other than just for social media and communication purposes.

(2) Integrated mobile & desktop applications to their lesson plans

  • DropBox: Free online back-up storage you can use to save your documents, presentations, photos and other files. Compatible with iOS and Android devices.

To facilitate file sharing with ease; everyone needs to create their own unique user ID then share notes, review materials and even homework to your students online. All the stored resources can be accessed online and through any device as long as you logged in using your ID and by adding files in the “Favorite” labeled folder, saved files can still be accessed even when offline.

  • Haiku Deck: Presentation software that’s simple, beautiful, and fun. Works for all types of presentations including enliven a to-do list, tell a story with words and pictures, and summarize a discussion.

Create a stunning visual presentation using your iPad. Making visuals for your presentation can be a breeze. Choose from a wide selection of elegantly designed background slide themes, fonts and color palettes and share your presentation on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. You should also develop your student’s visual literacy by making them a critical viewer of the media.

  • Edmondo: A free and safe way for students and teachers to connect and collaborate

A must have app for very classroom where every member of can create their own profile very similar to Facebook. It is especially designed to promote teacher-student engagement. Sharing resources and connecting with the respective instructors is made easier and seizing each student’s performance can be done in real-time.

(3)  Implemented the use of classroom management tools and applications

  • Teacher Kit. Be future forward and go mobile with this free app previously known as the “TeacherPal” app. Available for iOS and Android.

Start being techie and organized. Move on from the old-school class records and use this app for creating class lists, taking attendance, entering grades, managing student data, keeping seating charts, monitoring student behavior in class and more.

Seeking for the right mix of strategy in choosing the teaching platform you want take can be a bit tricky! So knowing your students well can be a great help in planning how to go about your lessons. Try the ideas above or share something that worked for you.

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Using the new Google Drive Android app as a Document Scanner

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Google DriveIf you’re an Android user, Google Drive is now more than just your average cloud storage app. Besides the new user interface and the expanded online storage capacity, Google Drive for Android can now be used as a document scanner, and even supports optical character recognition (OCR). This means that you can now use your smartphone’s camera to capture high-resolution documents in the popular Portable Document File (PDF) format. This is a welcome addition especially for users of high-spec devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 that make use of high quality optics in their cameras.

Why use a high-end smartphone?

Made available in the United Kingdom last April 2013, the flagship Samsung handset boasts of a 13-megapixel camera sensor. What this means is that the Galaxy S4 can capture images at resolutions up to a massive 4128 pixels wide by 3096 pixels high. While other Android devices can also use the Google Drive app to scan, high-end phones like the Galaxy S4 offer the best image quality at such a high resolution. This is because top-of-the-line handset models are usually equipped with the best mobile phone camera technology available in the market.

OCR technology and scanning

A special feature of the Google Drive document scanner is support for OCR technology. This enables the app to recognize words from scanned documents, a feature which has a great deal of applications in digital imaging. OCR can distinguish words or characters such as letters in images, which can be used in the transcription or even identification. In fact, Google Drive automatically indexes scanned documents when it captures and uploads them to the cloud using this OCR function.

Versatile PDF format, conversion, storage, and editing

Images are scanned to the default PDF format, which offers a great deal of scalability for either image or text documents. Since you are scanning to PDF, you can also assign security permissions to protect your scanned documents. The app automatically uploads captured files to your Google Drive’s storage space, where you have the option to download them to your phone’s memory or to your desktop or laptop PC. From there, you can convert your scanned documents to their respective Word, Excel or PowerPoint formats using PDFConverter. Alternatively, you can also convert your scanned PDFs directly from the cloud using Google Apps integrated into Drive for minor editing.

Easy to use, quick, and convenient

Scanning using Google Drive can’t get any easier. It’s as simple as opening your Google Drive app on your Android phone, tapping on the “+” sign on the upper-right corner of the screen, and tapping on “Scan”. Direct your phone’s camera to the document you want to scan, and the app takes care of the rest. It automatically captures an image, saves it as a PDF, and uploads it to your Google Drive storage space. Using your Android smartphone means that there is no need to lug out that bulky image scanner, plug in meters upon meters of cables, only to put them back after scanning only a single page. All the work is done wirelessly, and the entire process only takes a minute or two at most.

In conclusion, Google has really made strides with the new Google Drive app for the Android platform. With the integration of Gmail and Picasa into Google Drive itself, the storage capacity has been bumped up to 15GB, which is three times bigger than the previous allowance of 5GB. Moreover, Drive has also integrated a “lite” version of Google Apps focusing on office productivity – as of this writing, extensive support for spreadsheets – that will gradually improve in the future. Google Drive, with the aid of evolving imaging technology for mobile devices, is prepping up to become an invaluable productivity tool that will revolutionize digital imaging.

What do you think of this new Google Drive? Learn more about the features of the new Google Drive for Android by visiting the official Google Drive download page in Google Play.

 

Using iOS Apps Can Boost Your Follower Count

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AppleYou could be running a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account or even a Tumblog, but if you’re not staying on top of how frequently you post, your followers and their reaching out to you, or keeping everything up-to-date, people will soon lose interest.

The reason people sit on roller coasters is the thrill, knowing that they’re not just traveling at high speed, but because there are rises and falls and loop-the-loops. Social media is no different – people want their social feeds to constantly keep their minds stimulated, and a lack of content or creativity can be really off-putting.

One of the mistakes people make is the assumption that if you’re really pushing your social media activity, you should be doing it in an almost office-like (or an actual office) environment. This isn’t a good idea – in fact, the more mobile you are, the more impressively organised your feed looks and the more content you’ll end up posting.

After all, all those apps on your iPhone can add a huge variety of media, rather than 140-character text posts. Think about using services like Vine – six-second video snapshots that can be cut and sliced up to look fantastic. Perhaps also YouTube, or Instagram – anything that allows people to look, and watch, rather than solely read. A multimedia feed is always going to stimulate more minds more than a constant flow of text.

There are also buffer services that can really add to your ability to constantly output content without having to manually do so over the course of the day. Services like the Buffer iOS app mean that you will be able to slowly push out fifty content-filled tweets over twenty-four hours to ensure it’s never quiet on your social front, even though you only spent a concentrated hour or two putting them all together. Doesn’t have to be fifty, of course, but at least twenty or so tweets that aren’t responses and manual, quick tweets are great.

If you blog, commit. In today’s environment, a burst of blog posts going onto social platforms for promotional purposes followed by a vanishing act don’t go down well. Social media is a double-edged blade, as it can make you look incredibly busy and incredibly lazy at the same time – often with the same tweet. The best way to avoid eventualities like this is to blog when you’re on the move. On a bus? Blog. On the train? Blog. Doctor’s waiting room? Blog. Even the WordPress app will work great.

Speaking of blogging apps, Tumblr’s official iOS app means a constant flow of content both to reblog and comment on, and also to put through other social media feeds. Don’t keep great things to Tumblr – a JPEG, a GIF, a Video, or even a blog post can be interesting to those on your Twitter and Facebook feeds, even Pintrest, so don’t ignore the potential for content being dropped into your Tumblap!

You can also make use of high-quality apps for platforms that aren’t going to shove anything special your way short of convenient shortcuts, like Tweetbot. But the big bonuses come in when you delve into the “power-user” section of social media apps for iOS. Invaluable apps include those like HootSuite that do Facebook and Twitter, with post scheduling and even analysis of how popular your linked content is.

Using social media is easy, but mastering it is an ongoing process that, like anything else, is impossible to do completely, but you can put yourself significantly ahead of the competition by staying mobile and making the most of iOS apps that are going to help you do that. Stay mobile, stay smart, stay productive, and stay renowned.

Facebook: “just the F, please.”

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FacebookFacebook has become one of the most famous brands on the planet. It’s completely unavoidable, far more so than Twitter – even your grandparents might be on it! A big part of the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people, Mark Zuckerberg’s college IT project has changed the social landscape forever and helped usher in the digital era. Out with the SMS, in with the Facebook message.

Their redesigned news feed has actually reduced the brand to something even more minimalistic than their existing site design: the Facebook logo is now just the famous “f” symbol. It’s great news for those who’d rather their feed wasn’t being partially taken up by the full name, but also proves a point that’s less than subtle – everyone knows what the “f” means, and new users are already aware of the service.

They’re also beginning to move away from text and focus on image sharing, which is definitely in tune with the view that today’s average internet user prefers pictures to words. A shame for those who love the craft of the written word, but for social, Facebook are bringing their A-game towards photos and other images, as services like Imgur continue to take off into low orbit in terms of popularity, while Facebook struggles to stay as valuable as it claims to be for its IPO.

They also want a better mobile experience, despite the app – an odd aim given that they already have mobile apps whether you’re tooling around on Android, iPhone or anything else – and feel like you should be able to access their social platform easily regardless of the device or software you’re using. Facebook are a company that really understands user desires, and while they do consistently raise red flags when it comes to data privacy/protection, as far as user experience goes, they’re headed in the right direction.

But are they becoming slightly too confident? Their IPO really didn’t go as well as they or anybody else had hoped, and their critics were proved to be right – their number of users is false given many accounts are fake, and the average Facebook user isn’t actually worth much money, if any at all. They were built on supplying services that are free, and as with Twitter, it has proven difficult to capitalise on their user base without being seen as extortionists.

They are however in the odd position of having no competition whatsoever for the service they provide, which, while something of a relief also means that it’s up to them and them alone to reinvent themselves and innovate. While the “f” move is more “look at us” than “here’s a new feature,” they’re definitely trying to simplify and streamline the reasons why people engage with the platform at all, and it’s an interesting step that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Facebook Heads arrives for iPhone and iPad

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After the long wait, iOS users can now enjoy the new Facebook chat option where you can see a picture of your contacts in a bubble-shaped icon whenever they message you. Although the Facebook Chat Heads is one of the primary features of the Facebook Home for Android, Apple device users will now receive this feature with the recent mobile updates.

At the All Things D mobile event held this week, Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer and Mobile Engineering vice president Cory Ondrejka made an official announcement that the quirky messaging experience on the Facebook Home will now be available to iPhone and iPad.

In the article published by Mashable.com, Facebook said that “iPhone users who download the update will start to see Chat Heads pop up over the next couple of weeks.”

Creating a more playful and dynamic messaging interface, the Chat Heads were designed to show the profile picture of your contacts that signifies a new message thread. The pictures appear in a floating bubble-like heads on your screen. Users will need to click on the picture in order to open the message thread.

So, what’s the difference between the Chat Heads for Android and iOS? Without the interface, the Facebook Heads will only work inside the application, unlike in Android, where users can interact with their Facebook directly on their Home page, as explained by the Facebook executives.

The new Facebook app will soon be available on the Apple’s App Store, although the Chat Heads might take a few weeks to reach other users. The new version will have bigger and bolder News Feed design and will introduce digital stickers to the messaging system.

The integration of Chat Heads to the iOS app does not indicate that the Facebook Home will be available for Apple devices. Facebook is sill focused on targeting the larger market of Android users. Recently, the new Facebook-centric UI become available in the United States, giving Android Smartphone users more access to their favorite social site. The new UI is now available for the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the Samsung Galaxy Note II, the HTC One X, and the HTX One X+. We will also expect the upcoming Samsung Galaxy SIV and HTC One to have the Facebook Home interface, but for now, HTC First, which will be out on the international market later this year, will be the first device to carry the full interface.

Facebook HEadsIf you enjoy accessing your Facebook profile and connecting with your friends to this social page, then the Facebook Home will be your best option, as long as you have an Android device. Since the Facebook Home for Android might take a few more months to be released, it seems you’ll find the upcoming HTC First with pre-installed Facebook Home, a great Smartphone to buy, although you might find its specs disappointing.

Although talks about the Facebook Home continue to spread, early reviews showed a bad start for the UI considering it only has an overall average of 2.4 Stars on Google Play since its debut. However, we cannot purely judge the interface just yet; Facebook Home still has a lot more to run with the release of its first mobile, HTC First.

Using iOS Apps Can Boost Your Follower Count

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Twitter_Losing FollowersYou could be running a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account or even a Tumblog, but if you’re not staying on top of how frequently you post, your followers and their reaching out to you, or keeping everything up-to-date, people will soon lose interest.

The reason people sit on rollercoasters is the thrill, knowing that they’re not just travelling at high speed, but because there are rises and falls and loop-the-loops. Social media is no different – people want their social feeds to constantly keep their minds stimulated, and a lack of content or creativity can be really off-putting.

One of the mistakes people make is the assumption that if you’re really pushing your social media activity, you should be doing it in an almost office-like (or an actual office) environment. This isn’t a good idea – in fact, the more mobile you are, the more impressively organised your feed looks and the more content you’ll end up posting.

After all, all those apps on your iPhone can add a huge variety of media, rather than 140-character text posts. Think about using services like Vine – six-second video snapshots that can be cut and sliced up to look fantastic. Perhaps also YouTube, or Instagram – anything that allows people to look, and watch, rather than solely read. A multimedia feed is always going to stimulate more minds more than a constant flow of text.

There are also buffer services that can really add to your ability to constantly output content without having to manually do so over the course of the day. Services like the Buffer iOS app mean that you will be able to slowly push out fifty content-filled tweets over twenty-four hours to ensure it’s never quiet on your social front, even though you only spent a concentrated hour or two putting them all together. Doesn’t have to be fifty, of course, but at least twenty or so tweets that aren’t responses and manual, quick tweets are great.

If you blog, commit. In today’s environment, a burst of blog posts going onto social platforms for promotional purposes followed by a vanishing act don’t go down well. Social media is a double-edged blade, as it can make you look incredibly busy and incredibly lazy at the same time – often with the same tweet. The best way to avoid eventualities like this is to blog when you’re on the move. On a bus? Blog. On the train? Blog. Doctor’s waiting room? Blog. Even the WordPress app will work great.

Speaking of blogging apps, Tumblr’s official iOS app means a constant flow of content both to reblog and comment on, and also to put through other social media feeds. Don’t keep great things to Tumblr – a JPEG, a GIF, a Video, or even a blog post can be interesting to those on your Twitter and Facebook feeds, even Pintrest, so don’t ignore the potential for content being dropped into your Tumblap!

You can also make use of high-quality apps for platforms that aren’t going to shove anything special your way short of convenient shortcuts, like Tweetbot. But the big bonuses come in when you delve into the “power-user” section of social media apps for iOS. Invaluable apps include those like HootSuite that do Facebook and Twitter, with post scheduling and even analysis of how popular your linked content is.

Using social media is easy, but mastering it is an ongoing process that, like anything else, is impossible to do completely, but you can put yourself significantly ahead of the competition by staying mobile and making the most of iOS apps that are going to help you do that. Stay mobile, stay smart, stay productive, and stay renowned.

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.