Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thanks for a great Tech Conference

I've used so much of what I learned and gathered a couple weeks ago at the LC Faculty Tech Conference.  All the Google apps sessions were helpful for me.  So many great iPad tools were shared and I'm now trying more apps.  It would have been GREAT to have this resourceful gathering in the early days, but I'm just grateful to feel a little more "on board" with it now. 

Cloud on is the answer to writing docs on the ipad - finding this resource alone was worth attending - SO MUCH improved from Quickoffice HD Pro - wish I wouldn't have wasted that money!

iThoughtsHD is cool for big picture mapping and I'm trying it out to design new coursework with it... but nothing competes for me to the big roll of chart paper so I can see everything at once.  The iPAD is so small in comparison.  It is all about transitioning my brain, I'm sure.  Other mapping programs looked good also, but this one got a good review so I'll let you know...

Simple things I'm using -
Presentation Clock - great timer for presentations and time limits for group work, etc.  Nice and big to project on a screen. 
Big sounds - fun for whenever and whatever (freak out the dog or the sleeping partner?!)

That's all for now - will once a season fulfill the posting requirement?!
And thanks once again for the awesome technology conference.  I hope more faclty take advantage next time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A bit more on GRADEBOOK PRO

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I’ve been testing a couple of attendance/grading apps.
After a few tests, I decided to Keep using GRADEBOOK PRO as the main grade keeping program for all my classes throughout the semester. I sent e-mail to each student with their grades, attendance, homework assignments and comments.  I really like the fact that you have 5 different choices on what to send them; just grades, or attendance, or homework assignments, each one with or without your comments, or everything at once. I tried all the versions with a few students and they liked all of them, preferring the complete version of things (with or without comments, they didn't mind either way.) I still have to find a desktop version to have the same kind of access at my office. I sent the people who developed the program a message asking, but never got an answer. I'll keep trying ...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Star Walk rocks!

If you don't already have Star Walk, go get it now!  It's summer and the skies are clear, just do it!  This app allows you to hold your iPad up to the sky and it will display what stars and planets are immediately behind the iPad, as if it is giving you a window on the heavens.  My plan was to use it for the telescopic observations sessions that I offer to my Astronomy class, but the weather was so horrible this spring that we never got up there.  I was going to just let the students pass it around and play with it while they waited in line to look through the telescope.  You can also use the app to tool around a star map and get information about the various objects, but the coolest thing is to hold it up to the sky.  It's $4.99 (less than 2 lattes, no?) and will be fun for the whole family!

OK, enough for the sales pitch, here's a screen shot:

Gravity Lab

I've enjoyed catching up on all of your posts, now time for me to catch up too!

I used an app called Gravity Lab in my Astronomy class.  This app will calculate the orbits of objects that are affected by gravity.  You can put in a solar system by tapping the screen, then swipe your finger to add a second Sun.  As you might imagine, this messes up the beautiful orderly motions of the planets!   I've used these   simulators before, but with the iPad, the interface is very intuitive and it makes it easy to interact with your celestial creations.  You can put new objects on with a tap or swipe, and once the orbits go haywire, you can use the pinch zoom feature to zoom out.  Educationally, this illustrates Newton's laws + gravity in action and makes it clear that the orderly orbits of our solar system are a delicate and fine-tuned state of affairs. It's just so fun to muck it all up by tossing in other gravitating masses, or even whole other solar systems!  You can also fairly easily set up "gravity assist" situations, which is how we fling artificial satellites to the outer solar system.

Next up, Star Walk...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Slowly but surely

Ok.  So I am a little late to this party, but that is because I am a slow learner and because my plan had been overly elaborate.

Let me begin by noting that initially I had some difficulty finding the right apps for what I had in mind.  Maneuvering through the wonderful world of apps has been a challenge to say the least.  At first, all I seemed to find were games or so-called ‘productivity apps’ that seemed completely beside the point.  Educational apps seemed no better.  Considering that the Apple store claims 25 billion of these things have been downloaded, I started to panic. 

But then, quite by accident I came across what was to me a most exciting app.  It is called Shazam and the name seems appropriate.  This app allows you to hold your ipad next to an audio source of any kind in order to feed the app a slice of music.  Within about 6 to 8 seconds, the app tries to identify the piece of music.  And amazingly, it thus far seems to get it right about 80% of the time—and sometimes the songs are pretty arcane.  This is an incredibly useful tool to someone like myself whose research frequently involves analyzing advertisements that have appropriated and decontextualized bits and pieces of music from God-knows where. 

Other apps that I have purchased and found useful are Penultimate (which I have tried to use to annotate, diagram and mark up images for the class that I teach on Advertising and Semiotics) and Keynote and Evernote which allow one to throw together a little text (well, actually very little or quite a lot) along with images, graphs, or audio or video for the purpose of putting together mini-presentations that might fit into a lecture.  Keynote is the more elaborate presentation system. 

The Evernote app has been the more useful to me thus far.  It is the one that I have come to most consistently appreciate because it permits me to assemble combinations of notes, images, diagrams, etc.  This is often how I work anyhow in preparing the materials that I might bring to class to get things started.  For example, in a discussion of gated neighborhoods, I might come across a headline in the news that is pertinent, and I can then package this with a visual representation of a gated area, and pretty soon these bits and pieces might begin to resemble an opening to a lecture or a discussion.  I do not use it for the whole of class but usually for the introduction.

The Evernote app worked best after I also installed Evernote on my desktop and with it installed their device for clipping web pages.  I have experimented with creating “notebooks” and sending them via a cool email tool directly to the set of notes that I designate on the ipad.  Along the way I discovered a few small problems that pointed out to me the need to stay more up to date with operating system upgrades and browser upgrades.  These tools often times do not work if one is behind the times with either the OS or the browser, as I found out.  These problems are ultimately relatively easy to solve, but to the novice they can slow things down.  As noted above, Evernote comes with a “web-clipper” device.  Its performance thus far seems a bit more uneven than advertised.  Some reviews of this device express a lot of unhappiness. I still think it holds promise. 

With Penultimate I have imported scans of an advertisement or a screenshot from a television commercial and then diagrammed them in terms of the semiotic principles involved.  It offers a simple tool for introducing students to semiotics.   It can get messy—visually—if one has clumsy fingers/hands such as mine.  The drawing part can look great or it can really be indecipherable. 

I have tried and thus far been unsuccessful with a Moodle reader app.  All I really wanted to do with it was to use the device to focus in on particular bits of writing that students do for my classes.  Once again, I think that the app calls for a particular version of Moodle and although this should have been simple, it kind of defeated me in the short run.  Next time—my plan will be to use Moodle reader to allow student writing to springboard students into more precise discussions of the ideas we are examining.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The iPad in Cuba

My goal for using the iPad in the classroom was to find an immediate way of sharing images to an individual student or to a small group of students in the studio rather than moving the class to a smart room.
Since I am on sabbatical this semester, I have not had the opportunity to use the iPad in the classroom. Currently, my primary use of the iPad has been as a camera and for e-mail. In February, thanks to a Mellon Grant, I traveled to Cuba to research ceramic-based artists. My interest was to include these artist’s images on This image database was developed by Watzek Library and the Art Department at Lewis & Clark College in 2007 and currently has over 340 ceramic-based artists from around the world.
During my visit to Cuba, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with numerous ceramic-based artists where we shared ideas about each other’s art and accessCeramics. It was disappointed to find out that in Cuba, the Internet is so poor; I could not use the iPad to share accessCeramics images with these artists.  
While in Cuba, I took hundreds of images and videos using my iPhone, a Panasonic digital camera and my iPad. While, I like how I can use the iPad to capture still and video images, I found some drawbacks. First, the iPad is a bit clunky in terms of size when using it as a camera…it is not discreet…it is like holding a book in front of your face. The large size of the iPad does have one advantage compared to an iPhone or small camera. It can provide the user, a bit more stability when shooting images, especially in low light situations. 
But the main concern I have when using the iPad as a camera, is that the resolution is somewhat limited compared to an iPhone or my digital camera. The images seem to be fine for PowerPoint presentations, but when printing or trying to enlarge the images, they are not sharp. There may be a way to increase the resolution on the iPad, but I have not found a way to do that yet.
Another problem that I found was that the Marware case that I bought is creating a very slight shadow in the lower left edge of videos. This is apparently caused because the hole for the camera lens is too small and is casting a shadow on the image. I really like this Marware case, it is tough and really protects both sides of the iPad, but because of this shadow issue, I will ether return it or cut the lens hole a bit larger to correct this problem.
I am still learning about the potential of the iPad and try to use were ever I go. It is a work in progress and this summer I will be exploring potential apps for drawing, glazing and other apps can use in the ceramics studio this fall.
Thanks, Ted Vogel
Associate Professor of Art - Studio Head in Ceramics

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sleekness & Preperation Don't Always Go Hand In Hand

Hello folks,

Things are moving along here in Uganda. We have begun our trainings and the L&C students have been great! There has been a lot of energy regarding their presenting family therapy concepts to such distinguished international audience of counselor in training and professions, but they are pulling through like champs! Everyone is getting along and are learning so much from our Ugandan colleagues.

I want to recall an iPad moment. It was the first day of training and we needed to make an adjustment based off of feedback from our counterpart, Dr. Kabura. I said,  "No problem. Let me pull the slides and I will be ready to go." This is my typical response because I always have my materials nearby. So, I went to my handy dandy iPad and looked in Keynotes and surprise the powerpoint was not there. I forgot that it was on my personal laptop that I usually carry with me everywhere. Instead I had four presentations downloaded to the iPad because I had to limit create room for more storage. I moved some of the presentations to  Google Docs and Dropbox as a way to be more efficient. Unfortunately, I did not have internet access and could not retrieve anything. I went to Dr. McDowell, only to find her in the same dilemma. It was one of those moments. We looked at each other and said, "Wish I had my laptop."

This was not the first time which I had this problem, so, it is kind of my fault, but not really. I forget how much I depend on being able to retrieve documents immediately without the internet or wifi. It is not about being prepared, but having various options for retrieval. I have been in similar situations stateside, having my iPad with my information on the thumbdrive - - those two are useless to each other, since the iPad does not have a USB port.

The iPad is great if you have time or have thought far enough ahead to have everything downloaded in advance. However, making adjustments on the fly is difficult and can be frustrating particularly, if you don't have a keypad. Although it is mobile, it is not flexible. What you have is what you have.

Of course, the presentation was fine and it is so easy to actually present from Keynote. Very visible screen for the presenter and limited ways to mess up the flow of slides. We worked things out while being reminded of the lesson learned, the last time I was in this situation. The sleekness of the devise requires you to be sleek in your planning as well. If your life is streamlined then you are right on track. If not, you better bring laptop for the heavy lifting.

Dr. Brown

Live From Uganda!!! Almost.

Hello everyone! I am coming from you live from Uganda! Well, I'm actually on a layover in Amsterdam, but I will be there soon. Dr. Teresa McDowell and I are taking 13 students to Uganda to do a cross training in family therapy at the Bishop Magambo Training Counselor Training Institute in Fort Portal. We will be there for two weeks. 

I'm really excited about taking the IPad which I received from Lewis and Clark as part of the teaching grant. I have big plans to put this baby through the test. So far I have used it to record students practicing their presentations and showing them strategies of how to be more engaging. I also worked with some colleagues in Merida, Mexico and recorded us doing Theater of the Oppressed. I was able to then show our students how to set up the small skits which focus on domestic violence and then debrief with the audience in the park. It was helpful for students to see the process unfold instead of just reading about it. The IPad is good for that. It is really engaging to hold the computer in your hands and control the media.

The difficulty about having the iPad version which I have, minus 3G, is that I don't have a consistent Internet connection. This severely limits the flexibility which I anticipated having while traveling. For example,  I wanted to respond to all of the past emails which I owed for the entire semester while on the plane. I responded to a bunch,  but now I don't have internet, so none of the responses have gone out. I will be able to get wifi at some point,  but I know that this will be a problem throughout the trip.  
This also impacts the ability to do blogs ( in addition to all of the other limitations I have) because it will be a process to get thing posted. 

So this is my first blog. I got much more to come. So stay tuned. 

Ps. This s really my 2nd blog. My 3 year old daughter deleted my other blogs which were really, really, witty, while using my iPhone notes to make a grocery list. I didn't really know that my iCloud worked as advertised until I got ready to post and voila it was gone. So yes, my baby messed up my homework haha

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

HeinOnline – iPad Style

One of things I read a lot of are law review articles.  Call me old school, but I like the format I became accustomed to in the days of dead trees – the page with the footnotes at the bottom of each page.  Westlaw, lexis, html versions….well, they are just not the same.  So, I often find myself pulling articles through HeinOnline.  For years I’ve done this through the handy-dandy link provided on the law library’s home page (thank you Boley library for such a wonderful list of links to the databases I use most often!).  One of the questions I’ve taken to asking any law professor I come across that has an iPad is “what’s your favorite work-related app”  (and lately I’ve been adding “and don’t tell me about goodreader or evernote”).  One of those questions led me to the HeinOnline app and now I’m hooked! 

The HeinOnline App authenticates my account for 30 days when I log on to the app through servers.  When 30 days is up, I just have to log in again when I’m on campus.  The interface is very user friendly – more user friendly than the web-based version.  And, when I have pulled an article that I want to keep reading, or want to annotate for later reference, I can quickly save it into my dropbox and pull it up in goodreader.  If you are a HeinOnline user – I highly recommend this app!

[Getting back on the blogging-horse (fell off there for awhile – guess that’s what happens with a super-busy semester!).  Sorry about that!]