Entries in Education (17)

We Love This Free Jimi Hendrix App

We were amazed that 'Jimi Hendrix: The Complete Experience' is a free app but if you are a Jimi fan or want to know more about the guitar legend then go and grab it now.

The app is a good demonstration of interactive design and use of the touch interface. Here's what we thought of it after spending some time with the app.

Coffee Table Aspirations

Developed by Universal Mind for Sony Music Entertainment and Experience Hendrix LLC, Jimi Hendrix: The Complete Collection apes the coffee table book / reference apps that 955 Dreams make and which we are very fond of, but obviously with less depth (although, the developers Universal Mind do say in the iTunes description that more content will be added on an ongoing basis).

Discover New Content

For Jimi fans it is a fascinating read. We loved the really informative 'Early Days' section about Jimi's early life from childhood through to his time in the US Army. There are many things we never knew about Jimi and his life before he hit the public eye.

There are a lot of videos too with some rare footage and even a voice over from Jimi taken from the 'West Coast Seattle Boy' documentary, personal family photos from Jimi's childhood and some of the more familiar shots we have seen before. You will also find a Discography (with iTunes links), info on some of the big venues and festivals he played and interactive maps of significant sites in Jimi's life.

Music and iTunes

There is a constant music selection being played from the iTunes store previews (so just 30 seconds of each track) with 'Buy from iTunes' button displayed at the top right of your screen. This is obviously the model for providing this app for free.

It is actually quite good for picking up those odd tracks you don't already have in your library when you hear them being played, so we think it may work as a promotional app.

Future Content

As a free app, despite the obvious promotional side of things, Jimi Hendrix: The Ultimate Experience offers a lot of content for those curious about the man and the story behind his tragically short life.

But it should get better, as the last page of the app says that in future versions there will be new storyline content and videos along with games, interactive chord sheets and more. If the app stays free this could be really good and we are looking forward to seeing what they include in the updates.

The free download of Jimi Hendrix: The Ultimate Experience is available now in the App Store.

The Lovechild of an iPad and a Guitar: The iTar

We love Kickstarter, it gives inventors a chance to make the gadgets we want to see and provides a constant source of creativity.

We also love Music, Guitars and iPads. Mash all of these things together with some serious credentials in making musical instruments (for the likes of Vernon Reid, Chemical Brothers and Lou Reed) and you have the iTar.

What is it?

With a prototype that looks part 80s classic headless guitar / part frying pan, the iTar has some serious potential in our opinion. It is guitar shaped with a MIDI key fretboard and can act as an instrument, soundboard, lighting board or pretty much anything else controller.

The $200 price tag for an actual production unit might be a little high for some, but there are plenty of funding options if you want to support the project towards its $50,000 funding target.

A serious option

If you really want to integrate your iPad into live performances and/or your music creation workflow, it's actually not a bad price when compared to many instrument interfaces and it's probably a small fraction of what you would normally pay for a custom made instrument from the iTar's makers StarrLabs.

We think the iTar has some real potential, especially for live performance.

Check out the promo video below from StarrLabs, plus get the full back story and funding options on the Kickstarter page:

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you think this one has got potential, especially if you plan on backing the project.

Video Find: iPad Makes Music Education Fun

Here's a creative way to engage kids and help them learn how to make music using an iPad.

We've mentioned Kevin Honeycutt's inspirational teaching methods before and here he is at this year's ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference with a new twist on getting kids involved and motivated in education through music.

Using an iPad running GarageBand, attached to a Paper Jamz guitar, he demonstrates in this video just how tactile this experience can be.

We're tempted to go out and get a Paper Jamz guitar and try this out. What do you think, do you like Kevin's ideas?

iPad 2 and Educators

Continuing our mini-series of posts about the potential benefits of the iPad 2, released this Friday, we take a look at how Teachers and other Educators could benefit from the upgrade.

The Scenario

Let's fire up the 'dream machine' and take a little trip into an imaginary scenario. You are a Teacher taking a 30 strong group of 12/13 year old kids on a Museum tour (Ok 'nightmare machine').

You want to do something other than the printed-list-on-a-clipboard assignment you do every time and your Institution has a bunch of 3G iPad 2 units you can use on your field trip (we did say 'imagine').

You decide to split your students up into groups of 3 or 4 and give each group an iPad 2 with 3G. Their assignment? A 21st Century Treasure Hunt using the following technologies:

Video Chat Check-in (FaceTime (WiFi) / Skype (3G))

You locate yourself somewhere in the Museum, where doesn't matter. You ask your groups to call you once they find each item on the list and show it to you via the video conference (FaceTime or Skype) so you can confirm their find before they move on to the next 'treasure'.

If you want to be really comprehensive you could ask them to switch to the front facing camera and show that all 3 or 4 of them are there so you can confirm no-one has wandered off. By the way, you don't need to have an iPad you could just use your iPhone 4/iPod Touch 4th generation (WiFi only) if you have one, or an older 3GS for Skype calls.

Virtual / Augmented Reality (AR) Learning

You have cleverly chosen to visit a Museum that has developed an iOS App that uses a map of the Museum and GPS to ascertain the students' location and AR overlay giving information on what is being seen by the onboard camera. You could even do this in a City Centre if they have something like the Museum of London's AR App.

Alternatively, an App that uses a 3D model to create a virtual version of the Museum so the students can touch the room they are in and see information pertinent to their location, perhaps using the camera to line up a frame in the centre of the screen and overlay information that they can use to learn about the exhibits or displays.

Movie Creation as an Assignment

Fine tuning 20110302

As part of the assignment you ask your students to put together a 3 minute iMovie with voice over and sound, detailing the items they found in the museum and their search. You ask them to make sure all of their group appear in the video (another verification method).

This will then be presented to the rest of the class when they return and groups will vote for their favourite video (you could even assign extra credit on the assignment for the winners).

You could even go as far as having a YouTube or Vimeo account or Facebook page setup where they can upload their movie. This would act as submission of their assignment.

You, meanwhile, could be sat anywhere working on other tasks, waiting for the submissions to appear in the account.

Video Recording & Review

What if you could video your students delivery of a presentation or demonstration of a skill and give them direct feedback, even including other students in small group peer assessment? This can be a very powerful teaching tool and encourages critique and critical thinking whilst the activity is fresh in everyone's minds.

In fact, on our recent post 'iPad 2 and Video Makers', one of our readers, Axis, told us this is exactly what he plans to do with iPad 2:

"As a martial arts instructor I would be putting the video capabilities of the iPad 2 to use on a daily basis. The value of being able to record a student and then show them the video almost immediately is incredible. Students progress so much faster when they can see what you are seeing. Telling a student a technique not quite right is one thing, but when that student sees it for themselves something powerful happens and that technique is perfected exponentially faster. Being able to record and immediately analyze your performance is priceless. We do it now with the iPhone, and many times transfer the video over to the iPad and it's much larger screen, but that adds quite a bit of extra time, I can see the iPad 2 greatly streamlining this process."

Of course, as Axis mentioned, HD video recording is not unique to iPad 2, the iPhone 4 did it first, but here is what iPad 2 brings to the table:

  • Screen size - a larger playback image helps you see the detail more clearly, plus share it with more than one person
  • Video Editing/Recording - This is new to the iPad and as such eliminates import or transfer of video from another device/source
  • Video Mirroring - which could display the resulting video on an even larger screen, no matter what app you are using (a major improvement over iPad 1 & iOS 4.2)
  • Front and Rear Cameras - Enables a learner to show what they see, but also feature themself in the video, opening up a more contextual recording of the situation or events. Including them in the video could add to the experience, for example, showing their reactions or the scene behind them as they run away from something (think Media/Graphic students and Cloverfield).

Video Mirroring as an IT demo tool

The new iOS Video Mirroring, an iPad 2 only feature, has its obvious application in the classroom as a demonstration tool, but we can see Video Mirroring being used in future roll-outs of iPad programs. Think how it could be used to demo to Faculty staff and large groups of Students in a lecture hall projected onto a large screen for example.

How useful would it be to have everyone sat with their new iPad 2 in their hands, watching a live demo of accessing the App store for example, or using Safari to log in to a VLE and access courses, resources or submit assignments?

You could then back this up with printed or electronic instructions, but there is nothing like being shown how to use something whilst having hands-on practice yourself. As an IT Instructor of nearly 15 years, this has never failed to be the most impactive learning activity, in my experience.

Over to You

Again, these are only a few examples, we haven't mentioned the enormous potential of GarageBand for example or WiFi interactive sharing or using Skype for visiting speakers or inter-school activities.

We would love to hear your ideas. Have you got anything you plan to use the new iPad 2 for? What can it help you do that you cannot do now? Let us know in the comments.

Record Breaking iPad Band Attempt This Friday

This Friday, 4th March, a group of Educators will attempt to gain a Guinness World Record by playing their iPads along with modern classical 'quartet' (three Cello players and a rock drummer) Cello Fury at an ArtsEducator 2.0 gathering.

They are hoping to make the record books as the World's largest iPad Band. We are not sure exactly how the Teachers are going to join the band or what they will be playing on their iPads, but if you fancy following the record attempt on Friday they will be livestreaming via their wikipage.

Further details on the ArtsEdTech blog, where you can read more posts about how this creative bunch of Teachers are using their iPads in and around the field of Education. It is a regular read for us, they have some great ideas.

Teach Little Ones To Play Piano on the iPad

Fancy giving your toddler a head start on their musical creativity? Juno's Piano aims to make teaching the piano to your little ones a fun and easy process. We take a quick look at the app and let you know if you should buy it.

Here in the UK, the Juno Baby brand isn't that well known, so I had no idea who Juno was when I first saw this app, despite having 3 and 5 year old kids.

The price of the app though and a desire to cultivate any musical creativity our young software testers may have, makes this a no-brainer. For $0.99 (59p) you can't go wrong with this app which children are sure to love.

How the app works

There are three ways to use Juno's Piano, or modes of play:

  1. Learn a Song
    Learn to play one of three Juno songs by following the keys pressed Juno jumps on to - a bit like the Simon game - but helped by the notes being highlighted in Pink one after the other during their go so they don't have to remember the sequence
  2. Play Together
    You play some notes and your little one plays them after - similar to above but you choose the notes
  3. Free Play
    As the name suggests, they can bang away at the keys while Juno dances and spins above the keyboard

At any time you can go back to the Home screen and jump into another mode. The app is fast and responsive, including playing notes on the keyboard (although one at a time, not polyphonic).

What the kids thought?

Even though they had never seen Juno before, the iPC kids loved seeing her jump around and talk them when they pressed the right keys whilst learning a song. It probably would have helped if they were familiar with the songs so that they could hear themselves playing something they knew.

There is a clever marketing trick here, because now they want to see more of Juno's world, I am saved only by the fact that the Juno stuff isn't currently easy to get hold of here in the UK. Having said that, the philosophy behind education through and by music is something we wholeheartedly support and for every Juno product purchased a music education DVD is given to children in need under their One for All program.

Things we liked

  • Constant encouragement from the Juno character and animated actions keeps children's attention
  • Pace of play is set by the child, they follow as quickly or slowly as they need to
  • Colourful design and graphics
  • Non-academic and fun way to learn
  • Price! Just $0.99 (59p)

Suggested improvements

  • The choice of songs in Juno's piano are limited to just three and likely familiar only to those who already know the Juno brand, more songs and perhaps better known ones would be appreciated
  • Keyboard is not polyphonic (not a major issue given the app's goals, but it would be nice to play more than one note at a time)
  • You can't turn Juno's voice over off on the Home menu or when first entering the modes, she says the same thing every time which can get a bit annoying, for the adults anyway. It would be good if we could tap on Juno to mute her momentarily or have a voiceover on/off button.

It feels a bit like nitpicking to be honest finding fault with an app this cute and inexpensive with such a great educational value, so we recommend you go and get this app if you have little ones. Our kids certainly enjoyed it and for fans of Juno Baby and now Juno Jr. it is probably a must have.

Inspirational iPad Educator

How can you teach kids who cannot or do not want to learn the traditional way? How do you make a boring subject fun and engaging for kids? Kevin Honeycutt is one of those big thinkers who has a creative approach to this problem.

If you haven't heard of Kevin Honeycutt and you are even vaguely interested in how technology like the iPad and iPhone can be used creatively to help people learn, then we highly recommend you check out his site and YouTube videos for some truly inspiring ideas.

The video below is a section from Kevin's keynote speech at last week's AESA (Association of Educational Service Agencies) National Conference. It is a bit of fun with an iPad being played live as a drum kit, along with iPhone lead instruments and even a real guitar, but it demonstrates how involving this new technology can be and how people immediately respond to it being used with curiosity and good humour. 

Kevin is a fantastic speaker and he also has a few other clips on his YouTube account from this keynote speech which really made us think about how technology can be used to facilitate learning, at the same time enabling learners to have fun and express their creativity so they do not even realise that learning is taking place.

We hope you enjoy watching the video, as we did, and Kevin's extraordinary presentation style. Don't forget to let us know what you think in the comments.

Art Authority - 50% off for 24 hours

Featuring more than 40,000 paintings and sculptures spanning the years 300 AD to modern day, Art Authority for iPad is a virtual museum designed to be both educational, informative and fun to just pick up and browse. The app is available for 50% off at $4.99 (normally $9.99) tomorrow only (26 November 2010) as part of the Black Friday sale.

If you have been thinking about getting Art Authority but the price has put you off, now is the time go and get it from the app store. The iPhone version is on sale too at $3.99 (usually $7.99).

DisplayPad. Use your iPad as an extended Mac desktop

In essence DisplayPad is a Mac and iPad app combo that provides an extended desktop or even video mirroring for your host Mac. What makes DisplayPad special is the ease of set up and fluidity of the display rendering. For just £0.59 or $0.99 (for today only) you really can't go wrong, even if you only use it once or twice - surely it's worth the tiny asking price. Here are the main features:

• Tap your iPad to click.
• Two finger tap to right click.
• Two finger drag to scroll, just like on a laptop trackpad.
• Rotate the screen and DisplayPad automatically changes the mode of the display.
• Position the display anywhere relative to your desktop, just like an external display.
We love the speed and simplicity of DisplayPad, but we can think of a way that developer Clean Cut Code could turn it into an essential app for many iPad owners. VGA Output.

Having the ability to mirror (or extend) your Mac display to an iPad connected to a projector would be a perfect solution for many trainers and educators. This would free up the Mac to be positioned wherever the user feels most comfortable without the need for long cables. Over to you Clean Cut Code.

Magic Fiddle by Smule

It is a great week for music apps and iPad. Check out the quartet in this video. They are attempting to play Canon in D Major on an iPad app and, for the most part, manage to do so.

That app is Magic Fiddle (iPad only)  which has recently been released by Smule, the company behind Magic Piano amongst other fun apps. Now you can annoy your family and friends with off-key caterwauling on your iPad like never before. What's more, you can now annoy the rest of the world too with Smule's Globe mode!

But seriously, Magic Fiddle uses a similar approach to Magic Piano to enable you to play any of the 20 included songs and more which are available from the Smule store. You touch on the correct string as musical 'notes' fall towards the bottom of the iPad screen and use different techniques to emulate the sound of a fiddle. It's a little bit like a posh version of Guitar Hero. 

Fiddle or Violin?

Smule do not call the instrument a violin, but refer to it as a fiddle so that it encompasses any bow stringed instrument. The app includes tutorials that cover bowed instrument techniques such as bow, pluck, trill and vibrato. They do this via an '8 chapter interactive journey' that features step-by-step instructions including posture, holding your fiddle (iPad), scales and apreggios.

There are also game elements to enjoy and spur you on to play better, including medals and badges and a global leaderboard. If you ever used Magic Piano you will already be familiar with the Smule globe. This is where you see a spinning 3D Earth with representations of all the other Magic Fiddle users playing songs around the world. You can listen in and 'like' their performances if you wish to.

Check it out

It looks like another winner for Smule who have a way of making music learning and experimentation fun and collaborative whilst keeping people entertained, and at just $2.99 (£1.79) it is accessible to everyone, so we think you should try it out.

If you do try Magic Fiddle let us know how you got on and what you think of trying to play a bowed instrument on your iPad.