Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

A Series of iPad App Reviews/Recommendations from ProfHacker

November 10th, 2011 Comments off

The ProfHacker column from the Chronicle of Higher Ed is one of my favorites. Here are a few links from recent posts having to do with iPads, apps, and annotating.  I’m going to try out UPAD, according to the recommendations in this first link. I’ll let you know how it goes.

App Reviews from ProfHacker

iAnnotate App Review from ProfHacker


Dr. David Michelson–iPads in the History Classroom, Limitations and Opportunities

November 2nd, 2011 Comments off

I put the iPads to use in three settings: as a device shared between multiple students in class, as devices for individual student use in and out of class, and as a device for my own teaching, research, and service. My overall impression was that having a tablet computer was very useful in all three settings.

The iPad allowed me to have a library of reference resources available in class at a moment’s notice. It also enabled students to consult documents collaboratively in a small group without trying to huddle around a laptop. Similarly, the iPad allowed a way for students to access the web simultaneously in class. Other benefits included having a common technology platform for the course, which allowed me to offer the first course in my department (and perhaps the college) that used only digital readings. A final benefit came through the improved productivity for me as a teacher, researcher, and colleague in having a highly mobile computer to take with me wherever I needed to be on campus.

Feedback from student usage also raised some drawbacks to the use of iPads. First, using iPads as a one-size-fits-all approach to mobile computing was not practical. The most technologically savvy students found little need for the iPad when they already had an iPhone and a netbook. As a faculty member I also see the practicality of using different devices or operating systems, depending on the needs of the course or objective. A second drawback is the financial question. While students were grateful that the cost of the pilot program placed little burden on them (other than purchasing 3G or apps), they universally worried about costs if a campuswide program were implemented. Similarly as a faculty member, I found that purchasing apps was problematic without funding and awkward within the constraints of Apple’s single-user system rather than a university site license.

These issues notwithstanding, I would strongly recommend that the college continue to promote tablet computing. I would also see advantages to the use of tablet computers both by faculty and on an individual basis by students.  I would recommend that the initiative be expanded in scope to include more devices and operating systems in addition to the iPad and further policy direction given to the question of costs.

-David A. Michelson is assistant professor of history. His research focuses on the development of Christianity in the Middle East during the last centuries of the Roman Empire. In addition to ancient history, Dr. Michelson teaches courses on the new research methods of the digital humanities. His current digital research project ( is an online reference work for the study of minority cultures in the Middle East.

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Strategic Interaction: The Impact of Mobile Technology (iPads) on Learning

October 24th, 2011 Comments off

Here is the video link of Dr. Emily Ritter’s presentation, in which she describe how she, Dr. Park, and Dr. Vonnahme looked at the impact of iPads on a student-centered activity designed to teach strategic thinking. The blog posts describing this activity can be found at these links: Part 1 and Part 2.

iCloud: The Basics

October 13th, 2011 Comments off

You’ll be seeing a number of summaries of the new features in iOS 5 posted to this blog in the coming days. Today’s summary–how to set up iCloud.

Categories: advice, beginner Tags: , , , ,

iOS 5: What you can expect . . .

October 12th, 2011 Comments off

iOS 5, the new update to the operating system for Apple mobile devices, is now available. The link below provides highlights of the changes in this HUGE update.

If you’d like to update your iPad, iPod, or iPhone, be sure to first install on your computer the newest version of iTunes from

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Dr. Alicia Cipria–The iPad in a Spanish phonetics course: Raising articulatory awareness to enhance pronunciation

September 23rd, 2011 Comments off

Vowel production in English and in Spanish requires different ways of rounding and tensing the lips as well as degrees of jaw movement for accurate production and perception. In this sense, articulation to produce Spanish vowels needs to be more fixed and unambiguous than for English vowels, which usually have more variation in the production of a single vowel. In my Spring 2011 SP 484 class, I asked students to work with an interactive articulatory website. I then used a Flip handheld video camera to record students’ mouths while they read sentences in Spanish. The videos were split into photo stills or snapshots and saved to Dropbox and then to the photo library on the iPad. I then opened the stills in AirSketch, which has a folder for all of the images that are in the iPad photo library, and used a stylus to indicate changes in mouth articulation that would help the student produce a more native-like pronunciation. I emailed the resulting annotated photo instantly to the student, with space for extra comments, and attached their original recording. I also projected the annotated images so that we could discuss them in class. Because I was using an iPad 1, I had to find apps that were VGA compatible. AirSketch provided for more seamless composing and projecting than using iAnnotate in combination with Perfect Browser, which is what I tried first.

In the picture, you will see that the English-speaking student is producing a Spanish vowel sound with neutral lips (as in English). By using AirSketch on the iPad, I indicated to him the correct lip and jaw position to produce the Spanish [a] sound more clearly, as in the word disciplinAs.

Students found the experience helpful and enjoyable. With this method, I was able to help them become more aware of what sounds they actually produced and the changes they needed to make. After they received the annotated images and after class discussions, I assessed their pronunciation with another recording, which, in most cases, showed improvement in pronunciation.

It was a very useful experience overall. An initial drawback was trying to experiment with different apps until I found the ones that would do what I needed. The real drawback was the interface with the Flip video cameras I used, with much time spent trying to figure out a way to avoid using a computer to mediate between the iPad and the cameras, as well as trying to make the Flip app work. I got very useful help, though, from eTech all throughout the process. The major strengths of the experience were the portability of the iPad and the handy ways of making annotations for students. I plan to carry on the project again this semester, but using other video cameras, and iMovie to edit the videos into smaller clips.

-Alicia Cipria is Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics. She holds a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from The Ohio State University, specializing in the semantics of verb tense and aspect. She has been involved with the Roadmap to Redesign for the three large courses of Spanish at the Elementary level since its very conception, in 2004. After the official R2R project finished successfully, she continued working on the refinement of the hybrid courses that resulted from R2R (in-class/online combination), which is still the norm for Elementary Spanish at UA, allowing for the accommodation of an ever-growing student enrollment. Dr. Cipria has directed dissertations dealing with the application of technology to language courses and has been invited to numerous focus sessions and advisory meetings dealing with technology and languages, organized by different publishers of College Spanish textbooks (McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, Heinle/Cengage, and Wiley).

Dr. Lucy Curzon–iPads and Art/Art History

September 9th, 2011 Comments off

First and foremost, I found that the iPad surpasses both smart phone and netbook technology in terms of being a portable, web-enabled device. It is powerful enough to take on major computing (Pages, Numbers, etc.) and small enough and quick enough (in terms of RAM) to be pulled out of my bag to schedule a meeting and answer an email all while walking across the quad AND balancing a cup of coffee in my other hand. Its true test as a device, however, was after the April 27th storms. I could watch James Spann, check weather satellite imagery (the VIPIR app) and, most of all, communicate with my students and colleagues – via eLearning, email, and Facebook — from anywhere and at any time. Although this level of connectivity is something that I don’t require in everyday life, these were extraordinary circumstances and the iPad delivered without fail.

As a person who enjoys tinkering/experimenting with various devices in order to figure them out, the iPad did not disappoint. It is great for visual learners, I think. Most of the apps I downloaded seemed to present an organizational sensibility that appealed not to textual logic but rather the logic of the image. In any case, I found using the iPad very intuitive.

As our graduate student test subjects determined, the iPad also holds great potential for creative activity. Sketching and photograph manipulation programs, among other apps, encourage the user to think beyond the confines of a single media area. Rather, she/he can understand the how creativity is fostered though interdisciplinarity (in this case, via a digital interface). Likewise, from an administrative standpoint, programs like iAnnotate, Evernote, Keynote, Kindle, and Dropbox make conducting class (distributing readings, taking and sharing notes, giving presentations, keeping blogs, etc.) much more efficient and, frankly, a little more fun.

-Lucy Curzon teaches Modern and Contemporary Art History as an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama.  Her research interests vary from investigating ideas of national identity, gender, and sexuality in painting and photography to focusing on the exploration of how Art History and Studio curricula could better communicate with one another through active and collaborative learning strategies and new forms of teaching technology.  With regard to the latter, Curzon is currently focused on investigating the pedagogical value of collaborative social networking and other web-based media, for which she recently won a teaching grant to support her implementation of many of these ideas in large, lecture-based classrooms. Working with PI Dr. Brian Evans, she is also a faculty associate on an NSF-funded ‘CreativeIT’ project.  Curzon received her PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester.

Dr. Steven Ramey–iPads and Religious Studies

August 31st, 2011 Comments off

The iPad that I received became a part of my pedagogical technology in both REL 220 and REL 490 (Capstone Seminar) during Spring 2011. The most consistent use of the iPad was annotating Powerpoint presentations during class without being tied to the podium, using Airsketch. I faced some difficulty with the program, especially at the start of the semester. Some advice from eTech and an app update improved the performance. Based on this experience, I particularly want to continue using the iPad with Airsketch to control and annotate presentations in large enrollment courses where I move about a 170-seat auditorium. In REL 490, I used my iPad and one borrowed from a colleague on several occasions to facilitate small group evaluation of internet sources, emphasizing the analysis of representations of different religious communities in Alabama. This pedagogical application of the iPad was relatively successful, although it was limited by the availability of only two iPads in the department at the beginning of the semester.

Steven Ramey is an associate professor in Religious Studies and the director of the Asian Studies program. His field of specialty is the religions of India. He has focused his research and his writing on the experiences of transition in context of migration within and beyond Asia.

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Drs. Hong Min Park, Emily Hencken Ritter, and Greg Vonnahme–iPads in Political Science, pt. 2

August 25th, 2011 Comments off

[see part 1 of this post]. . . We also used the iPads in a variety of ways for our respective research. The iPad is small and light, making it very easy to travel with. The 3G service is excellent and cheaper than paying for service from conference hotels. Though we have not used the iPad for presenting, this is definitely possible and others at our conferences have done so with great success.

Reading articles and drafts is very easy and comfortable on the iPad: Dr. Vonnhame likes iAnnotate for reading and marking pdfs, and Dr. Ritter uses PDFExpert, which syncs the marked pdfs with the eternally useful cloud storage space, Dropbox. The ability to both read and mark-up documents is particularly useful when acting as a discussant of a panel or discussing a project with a colleague at a conference.   However, Dr. Ritter, for instance, still travels with a laptop in order to edit her presentation slides, which you cannot do if you do not opt to use Keynote.

Dr. Park used the iPad for collaborative research with people from other parts of the country.  For instance, he communicated with co-authors using the Skype app and shared files via Dropbox app – it has been much easier for him to do these activities with the iPad as compared to with the laptop computer simply because the iPad is light and convenient.

Dr. Ritter also used the iPad while doing interviews in Europe this summer. She only used it for notetaking (using Evernote) and not recording (though Evernote does record audio connected with your notes), but the iPad was much less obtrusive than using a laptop to take notes, making it easier to speak freely with the subject.

For a pen and paper replacement app, Dr. Vonnahme tried two: WritePad and Penultimate.  WritePad converts hand-written text to typeface.  Dr. Vonnahme’s handwriting is somewhat cipherous and the conversion was a complete mess (over 80% of the words were converted incorrectly, often to non-word characters).  Penultimate is just a pen and paper replacement app with no conversion.  Writing was smooth and responsive, and notes could be easily organized into different “notebooks”.

Overall, the three of us found very different uses for the iPad and felt differently about them. Dr. Vonnahme quite liked the iPad, especially teaching with it, due to its flexibility. Dr. Ritter, in contrast, enjoyed using the iPad for its size and flexibility, but found that most of the things she did with it could be done (sometimes more efficiently) with a traditional computer, and she was rarely able to eschew the use of a computer in favor of the iPad. Dr. Park also liked the iPad in general for its flexibility and versatility and found that it could develop into a very teaching-friendly device in the near future (not entirely at the current moment, though).

–Hong Min Park is an assistant professor of Political Science.  He was born and raised in South Korea, and received B.A. from Seoul National University and Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis.  His research and teaching interests include U.S. Congress, political parties, and American political institutions in general.

–Emily Hencken Ritter is an assistant professor of Political Science with a PhD from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Her research and teaching interests center on the way a variety of institutions affect human rights violations and domestic conflict, including work on treaties, international and domestic courts, and executive political survival.

–Greg Vonnahme is assistant professor of Political Science.  His Ph.D. is from Rice University in Houston, TX and his research and teaching interests are American voting behavior, elections, election reforms, campaign finance, and state politics.

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Drs. Hong Min Park, Emily Hencken Ritter, and Greg Vonnahme–iPads in Political Science, pt. 1

August 25th, 2011 Comments off

Hong Min Park, Greg Vonnahme, and Emily Hencken Ritter, of the Department of Political Science, submitted a collaborative grant for the College of Arts and Sciences iPad Initiative. We each used the iPad in different ways in our own classrooms, in addition to collaborating to create and execute an activity across two sets of students. We also used the iPad in our research.

Dr. Vonnahme used the Airsketch app (with the Pogo stylus) to present slides during lecture, giving him more flexibility in the classroom during lecture, particularly to write on the slides while speaking, moving, and interacting with the students. The freedom allowed him to combine prepared material with content generated during the class period. It was particularly useful because the projector screen limits the amount of whiteboard space left to use during class. Here are some examples of slides, edited during lecture with the app.

Airsketch slide 1


Airsketch slide 2

Note the app allows the professor to use different colors for a variety of emphasis, etc. The app also allows the professor to save the amended slides so that students can refer to them later. Though the app occasionally froze such that a backup plan to continue lecture was useful (e.g., PDF Presenter with VGA connector), an updated version released in early April 2011 seemed to solve the problem.  Overall Dr. Vonnhame prefers the reliability of the iPad and stylus and the flexibility of the iPad to the system of stylus and lecture capture available through the classroom PC/podium.

In contrast, neither Dr. Ritter nor Dr. Park used the iPad to present lecture slides.  Dr. Ritter uses clickers (Turning Technologies) in the classroom and these are not (yet) compatible with iPad use.  Dr. Park tried several apps to “replace” clickers (eClicker, iResponse, ResponseWare, and etc.), but experienced no complete success – this could be useful only when all students have internet-enabled devices.

Dr Ritter used iPads in a group activity, asking students to answer a question as a group and report their collective decision in an audio format, using QuickVoice, but giving them the option of written reporting as well. The students were enthusiastic to report their assignment in audio format, and their answers were more complete and suggested more consensus than those answers from groups with written reports. Informally, the answers were more consistent with course material in the audio answers than the written answers – this seemed to be due to the increased consensus required to develop an audio response.

All three professors worked together to develop an interactive activity and “experiment” with the iPads. Principal-Agent Theory is an economic theory of strategic interaction that is widely applicable in the study of politics, so Dr. Ritter gave the same lecture on PA interactions to both her class and Dr. Park’s. She then assigned an in-class activity to both classes – her class completed the activity on paper, with a single prompt, and his class completed the activity using the iPads.

Using the Safari browser, Dr. Vonnhame designed an interface such that one group could act as the principal, making a decision that affected the agent’s options, and another group could act as the agent.

The groups were assigned points based on the decisions they made, in accordance with the standard incentives in Principal-Agent games. The groups’ choices were connected, such that each affected the other’s point allocation. They were given chances to interact with one another and play again.

Principal-Agent iPad activity

After both activities (the paper-based one in Ritter’s class and the interactive, technological one in Park’s class), we administered a direct assessment (not for credit) to determine how well the class learned the concepts after each type of activity. We found no significant difference in learning across the two activities, though students were considerably more enthusiastic about the activity with the iPads.  Go to part 2 of this post.

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