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.