Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I touch learning!

Wow! Today was the first time in a long time I've been at a workshop for content that 1) I was not teaching/assisting with, and 2) was essentially completely new knowledge to me. Our district kindly organized a workshop with Tony Vincent, guru of all things ed tech, particularly hand-held learning, (starting in the early days with PDAs and now iPod Touches).

While I've been aware that this technology has been in use for quite a while in various forms, I've never had personal access to it or knew if we'd have any access to it at school. Lucky for us, this is the innovation of the year in our school district Instructional Technology department. So, now I can start researching new things on this level! (Basically, before I felt like I needed to focus my limited time on things I had immediate access to.) Oh, and another reason I've been interested in this area is that I just got an iPod Touch for Christmas ;-) That definitely helped. (I'm a little addicted to it.)

So, here are some of the highlights of a sort of Highlights of iPod Touch Labs workshop, which mainly focused on some cool apps that can be used for academic purposes. Specifically, these are the ones that I thought could be most useful in the classroom and my everyday life. Hence, they now reside on MY iPod :-)

1-Bump This app lets you share files just by bumping your iPod/Phone holding hand with the other person's iPod/Phone holding hand. In everyday life (EDL) that might be used with resumes, contact information, etc. In education (ED) it might look like students turning in assignments like photo illustrations, voice recordings, etc to a single iPod for the teacher to grade or combining research information into a central location.

2-Doodle Buddy This app is a simple drawing program with standard features like different colors, text boxes and a plethora of designs to use as backgrounds and to stamp on drawings. While all these things are to be expected of a free app, it really becomes applicable when you import photos you've taken or from the web to draw/write on. For EDL, this could be useful to help write notes on an image to emphasize a particular feature. For ED, it could be particularly educational to have students find examples of a specific item online and write a fact about it (find a picture of cloud and write what type of cloud it is, submit it to the teacher via Bump). This app is similar to Comic Touch Lite, which allows you to put comic speech bubbles on pictures, which is a slimmed down version of a program I LOVE: Comic Life.

3-Dragon Dictation This free app is much more than just a simple voice recorder, which comes by default with iPods/Phones. It records your speaking and translates it into text, which can then be emailed or copied and pasted into other apps. While you do have to speak a bit slower and include end punctuation, it is an excellent speech translator. Obviously, for EDL, this would be super-useful in any of those situations where you 1) don't want to use the iPod/Phone's TINY keyboard, or 2) when you are, say, driving, and shouldn't be texting, but you need to remember something or send someone something. In ED, I think this would be fantastic when a teacher wants to give ELL students instructions. They could just record them, and then students could see the written instructions (particularly if they might be different from those for other students). Another idea: it would be a fantastic way for my photojournalism students to interview people for their articles.

Hope this gives you some new ideas to try with kids and iPods! It sure helped me out!


Chad Segersten said...

You rock! I appreciate the shout out and yes it was awesome to be able to bring in Tony. It is great that we have innovative thinkers like yourself in our district.


Dierdre said...

Thanks! I really do appreciate the support and new innovations. I think the iPod touches would be wonderful with the photojournalism students!

Maria said...

Thanks for these great notes! I write a blog about my class having a set of iPods and all of our first year experiences. I appreciate these ideas. I am jealous of you getting to see Tony in person I only know him through twitter. Here is my link: