While on vacation this summer, we took some time to visit the Hopewell Rocks. We have been there before, and certainly looked forward to the return visit as it is an amazing place. On this particular day, we arrive about 2:00 p.m. to observe the water at high tide, then returned at 6:00 p.m. to explore during the low tide time of evening. I am still astounded at the 41 foot vertical difference in the high tide, low tide water heights.
While walking around, a number of us noted a bird screeching from high up one of the rock cliffs. It turned out that the bird was a baby Peregrine Falcon, almost old enough to fly. Unfortunately, I did not have a high powered camera with me, and the lighting was somewhat on the dark side, so it was time to get creative.
The following 3 pictures were taken using an iPod touch ‘looking’ through a set of binoculars. Considering the distance, lighting and make shift approach I was able to get some interesting shots.
I was speaking with @kimsten earlier this month about her year with our 1:1 iPod (Touch) in the classroom project. I was really impressed with the ‘Sound Track of my Life’ project that she planned for her students and wanted to share an overview.
Project Overview: Students were asked to identity 8 important events or experiences in their life. Next, the students were required to find songs that suitably represented each of the identified events. Students then authored a written description explaining the connections between the events and songs. Students also produced artwork for their project. Sample artwork included a CD cover design and a concert flyer for the event sequence. The project culminated with a presentation to the class of one selected event and the artwork.
iPod Integration: The iPods were used for song and lyric research via the wifi connection in the classroom. Students also had options to use the iPods for project details using the Notes app and creating the artwork. Apps that could be used to create artwork were listed in an earlier blog post.
Teacher Perspective: The project integrated research and writing skills, creativity through the artwork creation and presentation abilities. The iPod was used in a natural integrated manner as part of the learning process. This project also created a learning situation allowed the teacher to learn a lot about each student in a very individual way.
Student Perspective: My daughter, Charlotte, has had the good fortune of being in @kimsten’s classroom the past 2 years. Wearing my ‘parent hat’, I was quite interested to see the level of student engagement with this project outside of the traditional school day. She also felt the learning situation was designed to allow personal choices within the learning process. On the iPod side of things, search engines such as Google and Bing worked well on the device. Charlotte indicated many students used the iTunes, Tune Wiki and Lyric Wiki in their research.
Hat’s off to @kimsten for designing this effective integrated project. Based on her success, you might like to try this in your classroom.
The WRDSB iPod project wiki. Thanks @susan_watt.
This week I had an opportunity to ‘kick the tires’ on the Adobe Connect Pro Mobile client. I downloaded the free client to my iPod Touch and iPhone.
I started a host session on our Board’s server via my laptop. Next, I logged into the session with my iPhone over the 3G network and via wifi with my iPod Touch. Both mobile devices responded well. Audio transmission from the host session was clear, and the available modes of video, chat and screen share all functioned well. In video mode, you see the image transmitted by the host web cam. Chat mode allows you to read and enter text chat information, the same as you would sitting at a computer. Screen mode displays the image being presented via a screen share at the host end.
Later in day, I had a chance to try a more involved session with @dougpete. For this session, Doug hosted a session where we connected 5 users – Doug’s iPhone and iPod Touch, my laptop, iPod Touch and iPhone. Again, performance over both the 3G network and wifi worked well. Doug experimented by showing a powerpoint slide show as well as a graphic calculator. Chat and video modes worked well also.
The 1.0 version of the client is quite functional. Audio level settings needed some adjustment to optimize the session communication clarity. We found using the standard earbud style headphones worked better than the speaker audio.
The only issue we found was there was no voice input on the mobile devices. Documentation referred to toggling mute on/mute off to control the mobile voice access. However, we found the icon (see graphic below – 3rd icon from the right in the top row) to allow access to the controls was not actually visible to use. I am sure this will be corrected in a later version.
Overall, very impressive for a 1.0 version free client. I think this opens up a lot of possibilities for mobile learning.
My daughter will be spending her March Break traveling with a group from her school. We agreed that this makes an ideal time to try some communications and trip updates via her iPod Touch in wifi mode. I am sure she will post on Facebook via the Facebook mobile app and send emails from her MSN or Hotmail accounts. We also wanted to try extending our communications with 2 additional applications.
Earlier this year, I had tried Ping! with @dougpete and @rebrouse. I bought the ‘pro’ version for 99 cents. The Ping! app gives you text messaging between iPhones (cell or wifi modes) and/or iPod Touch units (wifi mode only). I have found the application to work great. This trip will be a great ‘international’ test.
We are also going to try some Skype audio calls. I purchased a set of the iPod earbud headphones with the built in mic. In the photos below, you can see the 3rd marker on the pin connector and the inline microphone.
We have tried some iPod Touch to iPod Touch calls here at home as a test run and everything works great. The grand plan is to use Ping! to set up a call time, then have Skype running at the time of the call. In testing, we discovered that you can stay logged into Skype if you ‘swap out’ to run another app, but in this state you will not be notified of the incoming call.
I am sure she will have a great trip, and I look forward to our iPod based communications. Now, off to check out the wifi availability in the hotels listed on the itinerary.
The more I use FirstClass mobile, the more I like it. It is a powerful application, and I am always poking around to explore new features and discover how much of the full desktop client functionality is packed into this app.
One of the features I have always liked about the desktop client is that you can reflag a message from ‘read’ to ‘unread’. I use this technique to track important messages so I don’t lose track of my followups, to do’s and time sensitive items. Initially I could not figure out how to do this in the mobile client. However, I did discover how to do this the other day.
Here is a view from my mailbox. Note the ‘tech in schools study’ message has been read (flag gone).
Now, tap the ‘edit’ button. This will cause the > symbols to change to radio buttons.
Next, tap the radio buttons to select the message (or multiple messages). A check mark will appear in the radio button to indicate the message has been selected.
Now, tap the flag symbol in the bottom menu bar to restore the mail flag indicator to the message.
Once the flag icon is tapped, the screen returns to the main mailbox view, with the display showing the updated flags.
I hope you enjoy the additional mailbox functionality in the mobile client to help you stay organized.
This past week had a number of highlights:
- Tuesday night Ontario Meetup online session with Alec Couros
- Discussions with school administrators about content filtering and system readiness for change
- iPod Touch project launch
- a presentation from @AnitaBK to our Board’s consultant staff regarding our new library program design
- ongoing discussions with @ron_mill, @hniezen and @rebrouse about keeping the conversation alive, keep pushing the envelope
So much to blog about, and not enough available time to blog this past week. Why are days only 24 hours long???
Thursday, I had the opportunity to visit the classroom of @kimsten for the launch of the iPod project. This particular class has been issued a set of iPod Touch units to use on a 1:1 basis for the balance of the school year. The iPods will be used both at school and at home.
The students had been issued their iPods a day or two before the ‘launch’. With expectations reviewed, students were busy with their first assignment – check out the iTunes store to see what applications were available and which ones captured their interest.
I appreciated the opportunity to attend the session and feel the excitement in the room as students eagerly waited for their turn to demonstrate their application choice to the class with the document camera. As one might expect, many of the students had investigated the games section. I was impressed with the number of students that had also explored other areas of interest and were prepared to present these choices. Chatting informally with the students, they shared a broad range of interests in the applications including google earth, wordpress (for blogging), puzzle/problem solving, interactive whiteboard (shared drawing), creation tools for art and communication tools. Some students were already taking typing lists to capture the choices of other students with the iPod notes application.
I know this will be an interesting learning opportunity for the class, and I look forward to being involved as they travel this mobile learning journey. A few photos from my visit are displayed below.
Following the student presentations, the class was off to the lab to do a collaborative writing session using etherpad with @wattsup56.
I have been using the FirstClass client software on my iPod touch for a little while now. The software is very functional and easy to use for the most part. Setting up the calendar was clunky – not obvious, needed research and makes you ask why???
Activating the calendar requires a couple of steps.
1. Select the ‘i’ on the lower right corner of the main screen to access the settings options.
2. Tap the version number 3 times. The ‘alarm on’ message will appear indicating that calendars and contacts are now visible on the mobile client.
Last week I upgraded my old cell phone to an iPhone. The transition between devices worked well – kept my same family phone plan, added a data package, transferred the contact list from the phone and presto – ready for action with the iPhone.
I synced the iPhone to the same laptop as I sync my iPod Touch to. A separate profile was created and off I went. After a little use, I noticed that the number of available screens within FirstClass was not the same between the devices. Further checking showed that the number of icons available differed as well. Hmmm.
A closer comparison showed that the calendar feature was not active in the client setup synced over to my iPhone and the version number was not there to tap and activate the calendar feature. I deleted the installation, downloaded a fresh copy over the internet and went through the configuration settings again. Now the iPod Touch and iPhone versions are functioning the same and everything is humming along as I expected.
Since my earlier post about Skype for the iPhone and iPod Touch, I have had an opportunity to try out the application first hand.
After the file download & sync from iTunes, and a quick stop at an electronics store to pick up some iPod earbuds with a built in external mic, I was ready to go in short order. Since I already had a Skype account for my computer, the setup was a snap ~ join a wireless network, launch the software and log in. I took advantage of my prepaid Skype out package to make a couple of test calls – one to my wife who was cooking at the time and did not expect my call from the dining room, and a second call to a work colleague. How nice to say ‘Hello, I am calling you from my iPod Touch’!” The next day, a third test call occurred at work while standing in the same cubicle as the person who you are calling. 🙂
In each case, the iPod performed well and the voice calls were crystal clear audio. Based on the quality of the calls, my mind turned to potential classroom instructional uses of Skype (computer and/or ipod based). After a bit of internet searching, I located the following resources for Skype use in the classroom to share:
1. 50 awesome ways to use Skype in the classroom: Teaching Degree
2. Using Skype in education
3. Skype in the Classroom by ISTEvision
4. Technology Medley: Skype in the Classroom
5. Skype in the classroom: Celebrate Oklahoma Voices
6. Skype in Schools: Resources and Videos
7. School Tube: Howe High School
Vendor website: Skype
Goods news, and further to my August 12th post Skype in the Classroom, it is out – Skype for the iPhone and iPod Touch is now available in Canada. The free application is available on the Canadian iTunes store. A quick search for Skype will locate the application for you.
Skype allows you to make free wifi calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world. If you have paid for the Skype ‘out’ feature, you can call landlines and cell phones over wifi in the geographic area you paid to access. I have been using the North America package and it works great! See the Skype web site for details. Have an iPod Touch? – just add a mic or earphones/mic combo and you are good to go!
Now, think about all the curriculum applications!
Product details as listed on iTunes: