Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cool Public Service Apps

It is interesting to see the number of government agencies and departments starting to use apps to get their information across to a wider audience. These apps can be both public service announcements and a means to crowd source data in order to inform decision making. Here are a couple from Australia that I really like - some because of the design, graphics and visual representation of the message, other because they assist the public in locating, accessing or experiencing public places, resources or amenities.

The first is an app that I was informed about a while ago. It was designed to get kids involved in the process of storm preparation. The graphics are fantastic and the gaming element is a clever tactic. This is a clever way to get kids to have conversations with their parents about emergency plans in case of natural disasters.

Before The Storm: FREE
While the mad scientist builds a world-conquering robot, his hapless cyborg offsider tries to prepare the house for storms. Help iGor search the house to find all the items he needs for a disaster/emergency survival kit, then use these items to prepare and repair the property, before and after the storm hits.

WilderQuest: FREE
Ever wondered about the mysteries of Australia’s subtropical rainforests? Take a peak inside a virtual ecosystem and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of our natural landscape. Welcome to WilderQuest - Nature Discovery, an initiative by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. There are 16 different native animals to discover and unlock.

ClimateWatch: FREE
ClimateWatch is the best way to record the seasonal behaviour you see in plants and animals, and help scientists understand how Australia’s environment is responding to climate change. The ClimateWatch app is the perfect tool to use anytime you are bushwalking, in your local park, or relaxing in your backyard.

Beachsafe: FREE
Users of the Beachsafe app can access detailed information about Australia's approx 12,000 beaches including weather and forecast's, tide, swell, water temperature, service patrol periods, Lifesaving Clubs, regulatory and hazard information!

Field Guide to Victorian Fauna: FREE
The animals found in the south eastern Australian State of Victoria are unique and diverse. Detailed descriptions of animals, maps of distribution, and endangered species status combine with stunning imagery and sounds to provide a valuable reference that can be used in urban, bush and coastal environments.

My Environment: FREE
Find the Australian environmental places and species that make up your neighbourhood or area of interest.  MyEnvironment uses the GPS to show assets around you. See the heritage places, wetlands, protected species, protected areas,weeds and invasive species near you.

Disaster Watch: FREE
This DisasterWatch app is an initiative of the Australian Government. It provides information about disaster related events and disaster resilience in Australia. You should not rely upon any single source of information during an emergency; you should seek information from as many sources as possible.

First Aid: $4.49 AU
St John Ambulance Australia provides First Aid training to 400,000 people in Australia each year. St John Ambulance Australia is the most trusted name in First Aid training, kits and supplies. Now you can carry over 125 years of First Aid research, experience and knowledge right in your pocket.

OzAtlas: FREE
The Atlas of Living Australia is a national initiative to bring together rich information about Australian plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms, and make it publicly available online. The Atlas contains over 30 million records from a wide range of sources, as well as species pages, photos, distribution maps and mapping tools.

Vic-Heritage: FREE
Vic-Heritage explores the histories of the most important and unusual places in Melbourne and regional Victoria, Australia. Spanning significant  places from the 1840s to the present, the App captures everything from Victorian to modern architecture; from houses to industrial spaces; from mansions to bridges.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

10 Apps for Documenting Learning

One of the things that really excites me about the iPad is the ability of the students to show their learning. I am not talking about the end product here, I am talking about the act of learning that can be shown by students recording their processes. It is often about the student putting the information they have learnt into a context. It is this contextualisation that helps the students create meaning. Here is a perfect example from a young 1st grade student who talks us through his investigation into transport. This example was shown on a recent school visit as one way a student could document their own learning. Our Lady of the Angels, Rouse Hill is an exemplar school combining principles of contemporary pedagogy with contemporary learning spaces.

This is where we really see the mechanics of a student's learning and how this can be individual for each student and in the case of a tool like the iPad, individualised for each student.

Here are a couple of apps that give students the opportunity to showcase, share and then reflect on their learning. Enjoy, some of these double up as my favourite apps too.

ShowMe: FREE
Turn your iPad into your personal interactive whiteboard! ShowMe allows you to record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online. It’s an intuitive app that anyone will find extremely easy to use, regardless of age or background. Record and share what you know about any subject.

ExplainEverythng: $2.99 AU
Explain Everything is an easy-to-use tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations. You can create dynamic interactive lessons, activities, assessments, and tutorials using Explain Everything's flexible and integrated design. Use Explain Everything as an interactive whiteboard using the iPad 2

Educreations: FREE
Educreations turns your iPad into a recordable whiteboard. Creating a great video tutorial is as simple as touching, tapping and talking. Explain a math formula or create an animated lesson. With voice recording, realistic digital ink, photos and text, and simple sharing through email, Facebook or Twitter, now you can broadcast your ideas from anywhere.

ScreenChomp: FREE
A simple doodling board, markers, and one-click sharing tools make spreading your ideas and know-how easy and fun! Just - Record It. Sketch It. Share It. - to create a sharable, replay-able video that tells your story clearly. Touch record to capture your touch interactions and audio instructions on a plain background, or an image from your iPad camera roll.

DoodleCast Pro: $1.99
Doodlecast Pro is the easiest way to create presentations on your iPad. The app records your voice as you draw to create quick presentations. Doodlecast Pro saves videos to the camera roll making it easy to import them into popular video editors or presentation tools such as iMovie, Keynote, or iBooks Author. Perfect for teachers or students.

Replay Notes: $5.49
ReplayNote is an app that records your writing and voice, then converts it to YouTube video. (screencast) You can create a video and share it just by clicking a few buttons. It is quite easy to create educational videos using ReplayNote. Or you can record meetings, or you can ask questions or explain something which cannot be easily expressed with text.

Board Cam: $5.49 AU
Board Cam transforms your iPad in an enhanced document camera or a whiteboard. Perform live dynamic presentations of objects, interact with images stored in your device, draw on a whiteboard or over video streaming without changing of application...while you record videos!

Voicethread: FREE
Create and share dynamic conversations around documents, snapshots, diagrams and videos -- basically anything there is to talk about. You can talk, type, and draw right on the screen. VoiceThread takes your conversations to the next level, capturing your presence, not just your comments.

Skitch: FREE
Skitch is a image annotation tool.Use shapes, arrows, sketches and text annotation to get your point across fast. Point out objects and locations in a photo, brainstorm design ideas with your team, identify a point of interest on a map, annotate a screenshot or webpages, then share them with anyone you like.

Draw on Slides: $0.99 AU
Draw on Slides lets you show your iPad photos to family, friends, and business associates and draw attention to specific details about each one. Make your point and keep their attention at the same time. Select the album with your photos, pick the first photo to show, and draw on any photo as you navigate from slide to slide.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Haiku Deck - Presentation Trump Card

I came across Haiku Deck this morning. I have been aware of this app for some time but have resisted the urge to have a look because in my mind it was just another slide presentation tool. How wrong could I be! I love this presentation app. It is so simple.

Simple is also a word that springs to mind when talking about this app and from a teachers point of view - this is important when it comes to students. This app is appropriate for students from infants right through to senior secondary.

This is content creation at its easiest. The touch and swipe environment has been utilised to ensure a quick and easy presentation in next to no time. Select a theme, use your own images or let Haiku Deck present you with a plethora of images from the in-built Creative Commons image search. This is itself great practice to be modelling to students.

These images come from across the internet from photographers who have licensed them under Creative Commons. Some of them have a "not for commercial use" restriction but Haiku Deck allows you to filter the type of CC images you are provided with.

Once you have your slide background, select the style and placement of your text and enter it in. If you want to include charts or tables, create them and then save as an image. This allows you to import them just like any other image - alternatively you could share your Haiku Deck to Powerpoint and add a chart that way.

The slide display at the bottom of the screen illustrates all your slides but it also allows you to drag and drop to change the order of the slides. It is these type of features that really impress me with this app. Other features that seem small but that are also convenient include touch screen cursor placement, copying and pasting for multiple image searches and the ability to embed the presentations in your website or blog.

Equally impressive is the ability to share your Deck via Facebook, Twitter or email. Not only can you transfer the presentation to your teacher or other students but these can also be viewed on any device with a web browser. This multi platform any device usage is so important for schools. This also suits any BYOD schools.

Finally I am an Analytics fan so the ability to have views of your Haiku Deck presentation represented as a graphic is another great feature. From an educational point of view it is also a way of gauging information about an authentic audience to a student's presentation.

A big thumbs up from me! Well done to all involved at Giant Thinkwell.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Geography and Science - Cross over apps

There are a number of apps that are being released that give us direct and instant access to real time data to events and happenings around the world. These apps allow the students in the classroom to have the same data and information that authorities, scientists and researcher have. This is important form the students point of view as it makes the learning more real.

Other apps have been designed to get students to think about their own environment and how their decision have an impact not only on the environment now but into the future.

TrailMaps: $2.99 AU
Navigate with high-resolution topographic maps for the entire United States and GPS functionality, you’ll have the detailed maps you need for a safe and fun trip. Aaerial images can be downloaded onto your device so there is no need for network access while you’re in the outdoors.

Your World: FREE
Your World is the best app to learn where the countries of the world s are located. The free version lets you place 25 countries onto a stunning 3D earth. Get the rest of the countries and territories from within the game by either sharing on Twitter or Facebook, or purchasing the upgrade.

GeoExpert HD:$4.49
Have fun learning to locate the countries and capitals of the world. Choose what you want to learn: Countries or Capitals.Designed to help you learn, not as a knowledge test. Continually being improved. Exciting updates are coming soon! Follow international news reports understanding where events are taking place.

Happy Planet: FREE
This is our planet, earth! In order to keep earth happy, you need to face the evil sources of pollution. This is not going to be easy though because your enemies will be colossal smokestacks, evil factories and nuclear toxic waste. On the other side, you are also a guardian, protecting all forms of life, from the smallest plant to the wildest animal!

GeoData $1.99
Download landcover, elevation, and population data that covers the entire planet. Generate 3D anaglyphic stereo views of standard, satellite, hybrid, and terrain maps. See possible future sea-level changes caused by global warming.

Puzzling Plates: $1.99
Puzzling Plates provides an interactive, engaging experience that inspires you to explore the large, tectonic plates that make up the surface of Earth. Includes three levels, each with a hands-on activity and a bonus round. You'll first learn how tectonic plates fit together by moving them into position like a jigsaw puzzle. Get it right on the first move level.

Volcano Trek: $1.99
Volcano Trek is an exciting, informative and interactive new app that allows you to track active volcanoes, get notice of earthquakes as they happen, plan travel adventures to volcano destinations and more. The Volcano Trek app is a great volcano app for students, geo-geeks and adventurers alike.

Landforms: $0.99
This Landforms app is built for elementary kids ages 5 - 10. App teaches plethora of landforms and is designed in collaboration  with Teachers, parents & students.  It has unique landforms riddles to indulge kids, and challenging questions for young minds. App is ideally suited as a study aid in classrooms and homeschooling.

Routes. Planning your journeys: $1.99
Planning your Journeys is now as easy as touching a map! Forget using a paper map in a Hotel when you are going to planning the route for tomorrow! With this app you will save a lot of time and it will be much more easy!

Planet Earth 3D: $1.99
Most of us know about the Moon and Mars more than we know about Earth, our home planet. Well, that’s not the case anymore. Planet Earth 3D is a great iPad app that can help you learn about our home more than ever before and easier than ever before. Everything is presented in an easy to read format.

Disaster Rader: FREE
Disaster Radar is the first and only real-time WORLD WIDE natural disaster and emergency monitoring app! If you are looking for information on hundreds of natural disasters and emergencies happening around the world then Disaster Radar is for you. Try it out today and see what is happening around the world!

Earth Alive: $1.99
You know what it's made an iceberg? What’s the process of mountain building? How are the fossils formed, which sometimes the scientist found on the surface? How many types of forests exist? Corals around underwater volcanoes? Do tornadoes spin clockwise or counterclockwise?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PianoPad - Keyboard App with great features

PianoPad is another keyboard app to come onto the market recently, however, this app has a couple of nice little features. It was developed by Greg Haybittle a teacher at Edmund Rice College in Wollongong. His school had already made the decision to go 1:1 next year and he wanted his music students to embrace the technology. He didn't even own an iPad up until 3 months ago. Within a couple of months not only had he developed an app but he got it on the app store.

Called PianoPad the app not only allows you to record a keyboard performance but also to email it to others or to your teacher. You can record, playback or just email the performance. Here is an music app developed by a music teacher for the music classroom.

The beauty of this app is that the notation is recorded as text. This means that the traditional problem of transferring the music file is resolved . Because the file is saved as text not only is it a much smaller size it can also be cut and pasted into wikis or websites and saved or shared with other students. This means that you can also update the wiki or blog with songs the kids are interested in. Better still get them to update it. The ability to randomise the notes or even reverse them also acts as a way of discovering new note combinations.

You can also put your own face in the app as well as change the background to customise the music experience. This would be a great app for any school but especially good in primary schools or junior secondary. Greg is saying that the kids are now asking for a iphone version. He has told them they may need to wait a while - he does have a day job.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Great Apps for Toddler Learning

People are always happy to talk to you about the apps that their kids love and come back to again and again. Over the weekend I was able to talk to a number of mums who gave me a series of apps that their littles one play. There are a number of really interesting apps here, some I would have thought were too complex for toddlers, but the mums say their little ones spend ages trying to get a handle on them. Have a look and see what you think.

Spelling Bus: FREE
Spelling Bus is for learning to spell and practice to spell. Kids see the pictures and listens to the word and then type the spelling. The simple to use user interface is designed to be child friendly, it allows kids to engage in learning with out parents help. See, Listen and Spell. 50 most common sight words kindergartner must know. Beautiful visuals and clear sounds to keep kids engaged. 6 Chapters full of words. Chapter size big enough to be completed without losing the concentration.

Lil Flippers: FREE
Race through sea and sky in the action-packed adventure, Lil Flippers! Dive, Jump, Surf, and Swim as you seek treasure, evade enemies, and build a school of friends to protect you. 6 beautifully themed worlds with randomized level generation means you never play the same game twice. Enjoy the Sargasso Sea, an old Ships Graveyard, weedy Kelp fields, the beautiful blue Pacific, and the lost world of Atlantis!

Small Street: FREE
The app allows kids to build your own town of shops, restaurants and apartments then grow the population of happy citizens to work and play. It’s up to you to decide the future of the Small Street citizens. Keep them happy by finding them a dream house and matching them to their perfect job.

Toca Kitchen Monsters: FREE
Ever wanted to play with your food? Now you can! In this Monster edition of the super-hit Toca Kitchen you can cook and play with food for two hungry monsters. Pick any ingredient and prepare it in your own way! Slice, boil, fry, cook, microwave or mix? And wait for the response from the hungry monster...

Cake Pop Party: Be Creative!: FREE
Want a creative, kid-and-family-friendly app? Cake Pop Party lets your child’s imagination run wild. Getting started is a piece of cake; soon you’ll be combining shapes, coatings, candy and sprinkles to bring your favorite pet, character or tasty treat to life in Cake Pop form.

Playtime: $0.99 AU
Playtime With Dora the Explorer is a chance for kids to play fun games while developing their memory and observation skills! Put together puzzles, test your memory matching up hidden pictures, and spot Dora and all her friends!

Dr Suess Band: $0.99 AU
Experience the excitement as Dr. Seuss Band transforms your device into a vibrant, energetic musical instrument that all ages will enjoy! Jam along with playful Seussian melodies or create your own whimsical masterpiece. As you play, you'll unlock new instruments, silly effects and catchy songs. Contains over 120 combinations of sounds, so you'll always have something new to discover!

Whers’s My Water: $0.99 AU
Where’s My Water? is a challenging physics-based puzzler complete with vibrant graphics, intuitive controls, and a sensational soundtrack. To be successful, you need to be clever and keep an eye out foralgae, toxic ooze, triggers, and traps. Now with iCloud support to synchronize your hard earned progress across multiple iOS 5 devices. One game, multiple devices!

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox: $0.99 AU
The #1 preschool game in the app store. Learn and have fun by helping monkeys pack lunch! Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is a collection of six exciting educational games for your preschooler (ages 2 to 5). 

Create a Car: $0.99 AU
This app is developed specifically for young children. The user interface is intuitive and simple enough for my 3 year old daughter. Create a Car is a click and drag activity for elementary age students. Choose from over 30 fun vehicle body styles and then select from over 70 different parts to place on the vehicle body. Once your vehicle has been designed you can save it to your profile and send it to friends.

Bananas in Pyjamas: Bubble Time $0.99 AU
Especially designed for children 2-4 years old, Bananas in Pyjamas Bubble Time is a digital toy that allows your child to have fun blowing and popping bubbles. By blowing into the microphone or tapping on the bubble blower, bubbles will float across Cuddlestown and then pop, pop, pop! Your child can pop bubbles with their finger until they are all gone. Tap on the residents of Cuddles Town to say hello.

Toca Train: $1.99 AU
All aboard? Time to get on Toca Train! Your kids are the train driver in this fun and friendly train simulator. The controls are intuitive and there are no written instructions. Just pull the levers, push the buttons and start exploring the island with your train!

Toca Houses: $1.99 AU
Welcome to Toca House! Help the five friends to do fun chores around a cosy house. Let your kids do the dishes, ironing, sweeping or planting flowers in the garden. Loads of fun with 19 different mini-games! And if your kids liked Toca Doctor, they are going to LOVE Toca House!

Toca Store: $1.99 AU
Toca Store is a Store Play Set that triggers your child´s imagination and inspires role-playing. We wanted to create a toy that can be included in children´s natural exploration of everyday life and help them to master social and mathematical skills. That´s Toca Store!

Toca Hair Salon: $1.99 AU
Let your kids run their own Toca Hair Salon! Cut, color, comb and blow-dry lifelike hair on six different cute characters. Using your fingers you can make any hair style you want! And of course - take a snapshot and save your creations!  Cut and trim hair with the scissors and electric hair trimmer. Wash the characters hair with shampoo, shower, and towel. Use the hair dryer to get the right look.

Thomas and his friends: $2.99 AU
All aboard for the newest adventure on the Island of Sodor with 3 new games featuring Thomas and his friends. Start your little engineer on the right track with matching games, puzzles and mazes, guaranteed to entertain for hours. Find as many engine matches as possible and test your memory skills in “Matching Mission”. Help the engines collect cargo and find their way back to Tidmouth Sheds in “Cargo Mazes”. Drag and connect shapes to find out which engine is hidden behind the puzzle pieces in “Engine Puzzles”.