13 Superstar Mobile Apps for Blended Learning!

This is the last of three posts on 13 Resources, 13 Tools, and 13 Mobile Apps for Blended Learning. If you haven’t checked out Mobile Learning Design or 8 Ways to Jumpstart Mobile Learning, you may find some helpful tips there as you begin to explore the exciting world of mobile learning. Here also is an infographic of iPad apps using Bloom’s Taxonomy I found recently.

First important question: Why is mobile learning so big right now?

Mobile technology is increasing amazingly fast. Just check out this video on some statistics!

Thanks to the variety of apps available, there are numerous ways to engage students by leveraging this technology. Below are only 13 of the many apps out there. Have a favorite that is not listed? Share it with us in the comments area below.

13 Superstar Mobile Apps for Blended Learning!

1.  GroupMeDiscussion boards can be a great way to have students share ideas and thoughts around a topic. Groupme make this easier by allowing you to set up groups of people by cell phone number. If anyone adds a comment, the rest of the group is notified by text. The cool thing about this is that if some of the students don’t have smartphones, they can still send and receive texts to participate. We used this at a conference recently to keep us all connected. No more being tethered to a non-mobile and less efficient discussion board! Click here for a video app review of GroupMe.

2. UstreamA few weeks ago, my nephew came to play football at the BSU Bronco stadium. My brothers all wished they could have been there to see him play, but thanks to Ustream, they were able to watch it from home! I used this app and held out the phone and streamed the game to them. It lets you share a URL to email or facebook/twitter. Just hold the phone out like you are filming. My brothers were actually surprised at how clear the audio & video was. No, they couldn’t really identify my nephew but it was a lot of fun. The polling and chat features make it somewhat interactive. This could be great if you want to bring in a visitor to your class or broadcast from somewhere “on location” or outside.

3. AurasmaAurasma uses augmented reality. Add levels of augmented reality into your classroom for a virtual field trip. I would suggest you download the free Aurasma Lite and go to this site and check out some of the auras. You will see that as you view the images with the app, they come alive with animations, sound, and video.  Imagine your classroom with hidden layers that you created and send students around to view the hidden videos/pics/etc using the app. The possibilities are endless!

4. Layars Think about how much information is on the Internet about the town where you live. If you were to search the Internet, you would find multiple videos, images, crimes, neighborhood information, news articles, etc. that relate to your area. Now imagine if the GPS in your mobile device could link all this information depending upon where you are located, and then show you location specific relevant information. The Layars app does this remarkably well! It ties in websites and uses GPS to tag them to your location. You turn on the different layers and see different things depending upon where you are. Go to the courthouse and turn on a layar and you will see youtube videos and images about that location.You can turn on the wikipedia layar or any of the hundreds of others. If you want students to explore the history, culture, or city surroundings in their area, this app really makes it easy and enjoyable.You can also read here about why one guy thinks this is the coolest app in the world.

Here is a video on the Layars app. As you watch it consider how this technology may create exciting and engaging ways for learning in your course.


5. DropboxYou may have heard about the cloud that allows files to be stored on the Internet and accessed from multiple computers. Dropbox is a great app that allows you to have a folder on your computer at work, laptop at home, and mobile device. Inside that folder you can access images, videos, and other files. Students can easily share work on files and projects as well using dropbox or sharing the folders with their teacher. Here is a video on Dropbox for more information. Now with the iOS 5, there is also the iCloud for iOS which is similar to Dropbox.

6. Voice ThreadVoicethread allows you to set up groups to collaborate around a video, picture, text, or any type of multimedia. Students can post comments similar to a discussion board, but they can comment by text or audio recording. The voicethread app makes these even easier by allowing you to stay connected and post & view comments from anywhere. If you want to learn more click here to learn more about Voicethread Mobile.

7.  Join.meHave you ever wanted to share your computer screen with someone? Now you can! This app makes demonstrating how to navigate a website or a software tool a cinch. The nice thing about this app is that you can also share your computer screen to a mobile device (which allows for chatting back and forth). Its free and simple to use. The only con is that you can’t share your mobile device screen (only desktops can share). However, you can view the desktop being shared on your mobile device.

8. Skype Skype allows free calls and video face to face meetings. Why not bring in professionals that use the topic you are teaching in their everyday life. Help students learn the relevance of any topic by having an outside visitor come and answer their questions virtually. Teaching Zoology? Have a visitor from the zoo skype in. Teaching culture? Have a class from another country skype in and learn from other people. The world is smaller once you start using apps like this.

9. QR Code Maker & ReaderThere are many ways to use QR codes for blended learning. I posted earlier a video on just a few ways you could use QR codes from McGuffy, PA.  QR readers are free and allow you to scan the code and jump quickly to a website, video, or other file. Instead of remembering long websites, once you scan it, it’s stored on your phone. We use QR codes for practices so students can scan them and then have them on their phone ready to view and practice whenever they like.

10. Animoto Animoto lets you upload images, pictures, and text, select from their audio library or upload your own, and then quickly make it into an exciting collage video. This is a great way for students to use their creative skills to develop brief presentations on the topics you cover in class. You can do it on a computer as well but this Animoto app is so easy to use I had to include it here.

11. Algebra Touch Math is one of the areas where you never really have enough practice.  This app allows students to practice Algebra. There is a free version you can try out. It makes a great supplement for students struggling to grasp Algebraic concepts.

 12. Star Walk This is a must have for any Science or Astronomy teacher. It uses GPS to display the stars, constellations, and planets all relative to how you hold the device. Even if no stars are visible, you can still see them with the StarWalk app.

13. TourWrist Take a tour of far away places or create and share your own 360 degree tour. You likely see this technology when house hunting with 360 virtual tours but this app makes it easy for you to create your own and the view responds to where and how you hold the mobile device. Imagine it being a lens you are looking through to view Egyptian Pyramid, Machu Picchu, or even the White House. Engulf your students in virtual field trips that would never otherwise be possible with this app. Exciting!

 

What other Superstar Mobile Apps have you found that are great for mobile learning? What concerns do you have with using apps like this for learning? Leave a comment.

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Lucky 13: Excellent Tools for Blended Learning!

Creating something can be an overwhelmingly rewarding experience. You may have read the Lucky 13: Resources for Blended Learning list I posted last week. This week I wanted to share 13 online tools that educators or students can use that inspire creativity and learning. Tools are great because they can help teachers create original and engaging content for their courses or they can be recommended for student’s use on projects. Creating something related to a topic can achieve one of the highest levels of critical thinking so encouraging students to use these tools for projects is a win/win situation for any educator. If you just want to use them to develop your content, then that’s great too!

Here are 13 Excellent Tools for Blended Learning:

#1. Jing Screencapture. I use this tool all the time. It’s made by Techsmith, the same company that makes Captivate, another great tool but this one is free and excellent. Use it to take a screenshot of your desktop. Easily select a portion of your computer screen and select an area you wish to copy. Then use the tools available to draw call-outs, textbooks, shapes, and arrows. When I make tutorials I often use this tool to help guide students through steps. You can also create a video screencast using the tool complete with audio. Imagine how helpful it is to show to demonstrate how to do something with audio walking the student through a process, website, etc. It is a great tool and even makes sharing the information a cinch. If you haven’t tried it check it out. I have the paid version of Snagit on my computer, but instead I use Jing for most of what I do.

#2. Imagination Cubed Instant Whiteboard. Very simple tool you can use to draw out a process or explain something. It has shape options and a pen/ marker to draw with as well. Simply draw what you like and then save it. The student can quickly watch the entire process of how you drew it. I think this would be a great tool for showing math practice examples. For me at least, I can use all the examples I can get, so something like this would be pretty cool!

#3. Animoto. An alternative to using PowerPoint for presentations. This nifty tool allows you to upload images, and create text to appear over it, similar to a slideshow but then you select music to go with it, hit publish, and wallah you have an interestingly original presentation. It is much more fun than just slides going by. Students love it because it allows them to be very creative with the text. It also requires that they be concise with the message they are portraying. The 30 second version is free and there are educational licenses available as well. By the way, there is an Animoto app now too!

#4. Voki. Create an avatar of yourself. It is very addicting and fun. You can select a person to represent you and then either type in the text to make him/her speak or you can record yourself speaking and the mouth moves with you. It’s a fun and personable way to connect with your students through announcements or other communications.

#5. Xtranormal. Warning! Once you start playing around with this, you may be distracted for the rest of the day. 😉 I love this tool. Use it or even better have your students use it to explain a topic. You select a character and a background. Then by using type or drag and drop options you create a cartoon video. It is so easy to use. I love it for Foreign Languages since the avatars will say whatever you type in there in English, French, German, and Chinese. It is so fun and students will never complain about creating a presentation to share again if they use this tool. Very fun!

#6. Voicethread. Have you ever posted a comment on a chat board or blog? Well this is much better than that. With Voicethread you can have students interact and collaborate all around a piece of media (video, image, document, etc). They can post comments by text, audio, or video comments. Voicethread also recently released a mobile app that makes it even more accessible to students. There are free versions and pay for versions with more options.

#7. Audacity. Do you want to create a podcast? This is an excellent open source tool which you can use to record your voice and quickly publish to MP3. It is widely used and works very well. An online alternative that is fantastic is Aviary’s Podcast Maker. On a side note: check out the whole Aviary.com suite. It has several good online tools for image editing and music creation.

#8. Hotpotatoes. This trusty friend has been used by educators for years to create multiple choice, true false, and fill in the blank practices. It is free and very easy to use. It isn’t the most engaging of sorts, but practices are so important for students to grasp a concept so the more opportunities for them to strategically practice something, the more prepared they’ll be for assessments. In a face to face classroom where you have 25 different students, you might suggest specifically targeted practices for the student.

#9. Many Eyes Data Visualizations. Sometimes it’s impossible to effectively explain large amounts of data. Data doesn’t have to be boring and “pie chartie”. Just check out a few of the visualization options available and you will not want to go back to boring basic data charts ever again. It’s much easier to get your point across using tools like this and its interactive which engages people much more than a flat image of a chart. Another great tool is the Google Public Data Explorer. Just check out this example here: The World’s Fertility Rate.

#10. Big Marker Webconferencing. You may use Wimba, Elluminate, Collaborate, or other web conferencing tools, but one free option for webconferencing that is getting a lot of attention and is free is Big Marker. With this tool you can various participants on at the same time, desktop share, draw using the tools available, and have webinars and webconferences with students. Think of all the great guest appearances you can have in your courses using a web conferencing tool like this? Suddenly the world is much smaller when you can bring almost anyone into your class. We also use a tool like this for Math tutoring afterhours as well as teacher office hours.

#11. Collaborize Education Platform. There are many learning management system options but this one I played around with a bit and I like it. It’s free so it may not have all the bells and whistles but it is pretty cool. It’s a free collaborative education platform for students & teachers. I set up an account and was surprised at how simple it was to use as well as all the different options I had.

#12. Google Education Apps. This is a suite of software tools like no other. We use this for email, document, spreadsheet, presentation sharing & collaboration, chatting, calendar, etc. It is fantastic! If you are a district or college administrator, I would definitely check this out. I can confidently say these that these educational apps help everyone I work with be more productive and collaborative on our projects, processes, and creations. It is much more than just an email service.

#13.Realplayer Video Downloader. Okay this one is not something you can use to create something but it is so helpful I’m listing it as a way to create convenience. ;-). Once you install this free tool, whenever you see any video on the web ( in your browser) such as youtube, etc, you can hover your mouse over it and click the “download” button which downloads an .FLV (flash video) version right to your computer. This is so handy! Then if you need to convert it to another format, the realplayer tool does that as well.  You can even convert it to mobile device friendly format (please be sure that you obey copyright and attribute anything you download). Realplayer is not my default media player by any means but it sure is great for downloading videos from the web.

What other tools are you using for blended learning?

Lucky 13: 13 Free Resources for Blended Learning

Halloween is officially over so we need be superstituous no more. A black cat actually ran right in front of my car the other day and yet it survived and I’m still here, so no bad luck yet! 13 is sometimes considered unlucky, but today and for the next few posts its going to be a very lucky number. Today I’ll share 13 of the best online free resources for Blended Learning I’ve found. Later I’ll post 13 of the best web tools for Blended Learning, and then 13 great mobile learning tools for Blended. If you really don’t like the number 13, just leave a comment with one of your favorite resources and then there will be 14. 🙂

Lucky 13: Free Resources for Blended Learning

#1. World Digital Library. If you teach culture, history, languages, etc, you will want to know about this site. First you select the time (from 8000BCE to 2011AD) on the time indicator. Then you click anywhere on the world and it zooms in with pics, vidoes, and text (all free primary resources) to learn about the world. 

#2. SAS Curriculum Pathways. A few years ago this resources was somewhat expensive but of amazing quality. Now still amazing quality but free for educational use. High quality videos, practices, and content that would normally be costly to purchase. Its great! Content areas include English, Math, Science, and Spanish. The objects can be linked right in your LMS too.

#3. MERLOT. Multimedia Resources for Online Learning. This is a giant repository of peer reviewed educational materials. Everything from presentation slides, videos, lessons, websites, etc for a multitude of content areas.

#4. LangMedia. This one is a must for World Language Educators. Resources are organized by language and cover 40+ languages. There are videos of native speakers as well as audio clips and great content on culture, life, religion, history, etc of different countries and languages.

#5. Wikibooks. Similar to the great wikipedia, there are whole books you can download and use for free. Wikibooks are community created and community vetted so you’ll want to consider that when you review them. If you are a K12 educator, you may be also interested also in CK12.org for customizable, free, curriculum-aligned content.

#6. Hippocampus. Hippocampus provides high quality, multimedia content on general topics for secondary and higher education courses. Its all free and they have some amazing content. Its part of a project with MIT. Some topics are Math, Science, and Social Studies.

#7. Teachertube. This is similar to youtube except that the content is filtered and is all educationally based. If you have some great videos you’ve made upload them here to share with other educators. If you need some lesson vidoes on a particular topic, its a great place to check.

#8. TED Videos. This site contains rivetting talks, updated daily with remarkable people talking about amazing things in the world. It has excellent speakers on topics like: Technology, Entertainment, Design, Business, Science, and Global Issues.

#9. MathTV.com Where was MathTV when I took Algebra? Math.TV has video tutorials on a variety of math topics with several examples of how to work through each problem. The best part is that you have multiple teachers teaching the content. You can choose from 3 or 4 different people going through similar problems so you get different perspectives and clear explanations on how to complete the problems.

#10. KhanAcademy. Another fantastic resource for Math & Science is Khan Academy. There are clear, concise and easy to understand video demonstration tutorials on related topics. Some schools are actually flipping their classroom, having students watch these videos at home and then coming to class to work on the assignments together. If you just need a pool of videos to draw from when referring struggling students, this is a great option.

#11. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. Looking for simulation practices for Math? Topics include: Number & Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis.

#12. Biodigital Human. Want to explore the Anatomy or Disease of the Human Body? This 3D site, lets you zoom in and view the whole body and individual organs and the effects of disease. It is amazing and easy to use. You may have to use the Google browser to support the Advanced Graphics for it. Its very cool and much more engaging then pictures of organs or just memorizing handout diagrams of Anatomy.

#13. We Choose the Moon. This simulation recreates the moon take off and landing along with background history and information. I wasn’t alive when it happened but viewing this simulation really makes me feel like I’m right there. This is why technology can be so amazing and engaging for learning. I can hardly wait for more learning simulations like this to become available. If you are teaching Science, Space, History, or anything to do with the Moon this is a must see.

 

What other blended learning resources are there? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments area below.

Why Every Educator Should Be on Twitter

I used to wonder why someone would want to get on Twitter when there was Facebook. It seemed to be an unnecessary duplication of what I was already doing. But then… It happened!

At the ISTE2011 Conference I started meeting some amazing people. Now its kind of awkward to ask someone you barely know for their email adress and even if you did, you may not feel comfortable contacting them very often. But after hearing some of the presenters mention they were on Twitter I decided the time had come and I was finally going to try it out. “After all, I’m into Technology, I probably should be on Twitter”, I thought. So with that, I set up my account. Now just a few months later I’m sold!

Why Every Educator Should Be on Twitter.

1. You can follow anyone, but particularly the people you are interested in for your career field or interests. I follow people who are into the same tech-learning things I am, Edtech, mobile learning, instructional design, etc. Then I get to see the resources, “nuggets of wisdom”, news, or tips they share all related to what I am interested in. I don’t use Twitter like Facebook, its more of a Professional Learning Community for me. If I followed everyone like I do on Facebook, it would be more difficult to sift through all the tweets to get to the relevant information. One tool you could use to help find people to follow is Wefollow.

2. You can network with people you would otherwise never be able to.  If I want to know what educators in other places are doing, then I search for them and follow them. Amazing as it is,  there are hundreds of people doing exactly what you are doing and some might be doing it a little bit better! 😉 I may retweet their link or message, or send them a question asking about their tweet. You definitely get to know lots of people and the world seems much smaller. Its great to learn from the top professionals in your region (or the world), not to mention the added bonus of getting your foot in the door if you ever need a job somewhere. Twitter opens it all up.

3. Learn emerging trends relevant to your field right when it happens. With the Internet blazing forward and more and more educational resources available, why not tap into that knowledge? It’s nice particularly for teachers that are always trying to find the best tools, websites, and resources without having to reinvent the wheel. An added bonus is that almost every author or educator you hear about is posting information, resources, links etc on a daily basis. No need to wait until the next conference to be blown away by emerging trends that are being implemented everywhere else, you can glean some amazing insight just by checking the tweets and start implementing what you learn in your schools now.  Most schools, institutions, & businesses are on twitter too, many of which tweet about sweet deals. 😉

One suggestion is to simply set aside a few minutes each day to skim the tweets, open the relevant links in seperate windows and as you have time check them out or share what you learned to your followers. Similar to Facebook, Twitter doesn’t need to take over your life, just a few minutes a day checking in on the experts can make a huge difference in your professional learning.

Those are my thoughts on Twitter. The funny thing is when I’m done with this post I’m going to Tweet it out and everyone that sees it is already on Twitter and recognizes its importance. So just in case, I think I’ll post it on Facebook too. 

Oh by the way, you can follow me at Twitter.com/kodystimpson

Here above is a video on “Twitter for Educators” embedded from Youtube. If you are training faculty to use Twitter, it may help them understand what it is and why its such a powerful tool.