THE App Of The Week
App of the Week is a new feature here on Faculty Focus written by Dave Yearwood, PhD, associate professor and chair of the technology department at the University of North Dakota. Dave is an avid collector of apps and is always on the lookout for new ones that can improve student learning or simply make academic life more organized, productive and fun. Through this column, he’ll provide tips for getting started, app reviews, best practices, sneak peeks, and more. Reviews from guest contributors are welcome as well.
CURRENT ARTICLE • November 21st, 2013
I remember well the days when digitizing documents and photographs was a huge challenge. Scanners in the 1990s were not readily available, expensive, took up about the better part of one’s desk, cumbersome to use, and the output quality varied from scanner to scanner. My first desktop scanner, a high-end SCSI scanner, cost around $2000 in 1994!
OTHER RECENT ARTICLES
October 25 - Apps for News: NPR, BBC, and TED
OK, I admit it, I am a news junkie, but I am careful about where I get my fix. For news, I typically turn to National Public Radio (NPR) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). For technology-related topics, I go to TED. I frequently watch the traditional network news but when I am on the move and away from a television, these three are my go-to apps for staying current.
September 27 - App Review: Voice Record Pro
The average person probably remembers more of what they see than what they hear. For example, you’re likely to readily remember a person’s face more easily than you would his name. However, according to molecular biologist John Medina, the key to more remembering what we see and hear is enhanced when repetition is involved. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating mass memorization of anything by anyone. Memorization is necessary in some cases, but given the easy access to all kinds of information, I see little reason for my students to commit large amounts of information to organic memory as opposed to knowing how and where to find it. What I am merely suggesting is that frequent re-exposure to snippets of content will likely aid understanding of what was presented or discussed. I have found that the podcast is one way to provide short bits of information for clarification purposes or as a way to provide expanded discussion of something that I covered in class. Here are two key guidelines to follow when developing a podcast:
February 22 - App Review: Doceri Combines Screencasting, Desktop Control, and Interactive Whiteboard
The Doceri interactive whiteboard and screencast recorder app, like the Splashtop app I reviewed earlier, is useful to anyone wishing to remotely control a projected image from a connected computer, make screen annotations on what is displayed (you can make the annotations on a displayed image or a whiteboard), and send your creation for others to see. The thing I liked the most about using Doceri is the ease with which recorded audio and screen annotations can be made and the ability to send/post the finished product to a LMS or similar system for students to access. This app can save you the expense associated with costly classroom whiteboards and the controls in the app are easy to navigate.
February 8 - ScreenChomp App Review: Recordable Whiteboard Provides Easy Way to Create, Explain and Share
ScreenChomp is a free, yet highly intuitive and powerful app that you and your students can quickly master. To use ScreenChomp you simply touch the record button; draw on the whiteboard using the available pen or markers; and provide a running narrative. ScreenChomp records your voice and drawing and then allows you to upload your creation to ScreenChomp.com. After uploading your project, you will be provided with a link which you can share via e-mail, Twitter, or on the clipboard. Nothing could be easier than that!
In preparing for my own dissertation research, I began getting electronic copies of journal articles so that I would not be burdened with lots of paper copies and for better file organization. I also did not want to read the copies while sitting at my computer but to use my iPad instead. While reading any journal article there is a need to markup the copy with personal notes, highlights, underlines, and other helpful markings so I needed a program that would allow me to do that on my mobile device.
Back in July I reviewed PickMeBuzzer and concluded that, while the app has a lot of potential, it needs some work to make it more intuitive and stable.
Well, after working with the PickMeBuzzer app designer, I can tell you that I am now very pleased with the app and have in fact used it a couple times in my class with great success. Here are step-by-step instructions for using it with a Jeopardy-like class activity.
November 16 - App Review: CloudOn
Cloud users have a variety of options for accessing content as well as the option of using any number of apps to create content, e.g. documents, spreadsheets, and presentations just to name a few. Many of the available apps in the iTunes store and Google Play even mimic computer application programs that most of us use on a daily basis and CloudOn is one such app.
What is the biggest frustration you have with your iPad? Oops, forget that I ever asked that question! Really, I think most individuals like their iPads. However, there are just a few things we all wished that Apple would include on the iPad, like a USB port to give us access to our ‘stuff.’ Everyone has, at some time, experienced one or two things on portable devices: 1. You never have enough memory, or 2. Your data is not all in the same place! For iPad users, unless you have access to cloud storage, there really is no convenient way (outside of using iTunes on your computer) to get data into your iPad to work on because of the lack of a slot or port that will allow you to access external storage units.
September 21 - App Review: Socrative
There is nothing quite like real-time feedback to determine if students really got it! Just about every faculty experiences that look—students’ eyes indicating that they understand or do not understand the explanation given or the conclusions just drawn. But how do we really know that our students are not merely acting the part when they nod in agreement, trying to get us to believe that they understand something when they do not? I have no idea what is really taking place behind those eyes or what is going on in a students’ brain so this is where Socrative comes to the rescue.