Entries in learning (18)
Have you ever tried learning guitar? How far did you get?
If you're like a lot of people you probably learnt a few chords, maybe even a few songs, but never really got any better and you lost motivation. If you took guitar lessons you may have a had a guitar teacher who struggled to engage you and made learning guitar a chore, not fun.
Using a gaming approach, combined with a carefully ramped learning curve, cute cartoon graphics and bespoke, fun sounding songs to play along with, we think WildChords has a good chance at succeeding.
We were in on the beta program for this app and we have seen it develop a great deal from the early versions but the core idea of the app has remained the same: to make it fun to learn.
Here's a promo video made for WildChords that shows off the quirky European sense of humour that we love.
As you will have seen in the video above, the idea behind the game is that a lot of animals have escaped from a nearby zoo and are now terrorising the locals.
You play our brave guitar hero, who takes to the streets armed with the knowledge that the escaped animals can be corralled pied-piper like by playing the corresponding chord. A for Apes, C for Crocodiles, E for Elephants, and so on.
As each new chord is introduced there is a little tutorial showing you how to play the chord and where each finger should go.
The iPad's built-in microphone picks up how well you play the chord and lights up the string for each note that is sounded correctly.
Once you have started getting used to playing the chords and as you move up through the levels you get to move on and play individual notes. The cartoon-like graphics continue here, with cute little birds sitting on telegraph wires, getting zapped if you don't play the notes correctly.
Somehow, you are suspended from a bunch of balloons, guitar in hand and you have to play the fret and string indicated or the birds get it! As the stages progress it gets trickier, requiring quite a bit of concentration.
Even though we've played guitar before, we found ourselves sweating a bit and getting quite tense on these levels.
What's it like to play?
WildChords really is a lot of fun to play and at the same time quite challenging. Each time you strum a chord it has to ring out correctly and you have to hit the timing bang on if you want to do well.
Far from being the trudging, demotivating type of lesson that puts so many of us off learning to play an instrument, WildChords makes learning guitar fun and keeps you coming back for more.
Do you like collecting gold stars? We do!
WildChords rewards accuracy and timing with the oft-used three gold stars at the end of each level. Which is clever, because not getting three stars is annoying, especially when trying to learn a new skill, like playing guitar.
If you're determined to do this right, you'll want another go at the level, and another, until you get those three gold stars.
WildChords starts as a free download and this will get you a long way towards making more recognisable sounds from your guitar.
If you have completed all these initial tutorials you can extend your skills and buy further tutorial 'packs' which include new challenges and some new chords and even scales.
These packs are currently available as in-app purchases for just $2.99 (£1.99), which is not bad at all and a great deal cheaper than a single guitar lesson.
Even if you don't want to pay for the extra lessons, the WildChords app is a free download from the App Store, and we reckon you should go and get it.
If you do grab WildChords, don't forget to leave us a comment and let us know what you think.
Here's a video by DoInk demonstrating how their brilliant iPad vector drawing and animation app can be used in the Education field. We have already said how much we like DoInk, see the video description on Vimeo :-), so if you're not already familiar with it be sure to check it out.
If you are using DoInk we would love to hear about it in the comments.
If you are using DoInk we would love to hear about it in the comments.
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?
We were a bit sceptical before trying this on our iPad because many of these 'slow downer' type apps make the audio sound horrible, especially at the slowest speeds with clipping and stuttering.
In RiffMaster Pro for iPad though there is none of that. The audio quality is really fantastic. In fact, it is probably the best audio slow downer we have heard, on any platform.
We tried it out with two classic cover band songs, "Rebel, Rebel" by David Bowie and "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses. Both songs, but especially the latter, have intros that thousands of young guitarists have spent many hours listening to over and over again to perfect their covers.
In both cases we were able to slow the song right down to 50% speed without losing any detail and retaining perfect pitch to play along with. Actually, the audio was so clear and we found it so fascinating to hear the individual notes and words being sung, that we started slowing down all our songs to hear how they were constructed.
You can choose to change the Pitch instead and keep the same tempo, which will help Guitarists and bands who tune down, as many do to get a bit more grunge in their sound.
Play that again
Setting up repeated sections is very easy and the waveform display is fast, accurate and responsive when scrubbing through the song. You can also mark certain points in the song, useful if you are learning a particular section and can see it coming up in the waveform display or add notes for the songs.
An essential purchase
If you are a Guitarist with an iPad and you want to learn songs by other artists, you need this app - simple as that really!
Here's a video preview from the Developers showing how the app works. Remember if you get this app to let us know what you think of it in the comments below.
How would you like an intimate 1:1 guitar lesson from some of the top musicians in the business? In your own home!
With On the Music Path app, that is pretty much what you get. You can even say, “Hang on, slow down a bit and play that again”, as many times as you like without annoying your tutor.
If you want to improve your musicianship, appreciate high quality video and classy app design, we think you will love On the Music Path, and it is not just because our favourite actor/photographer/musician Jeff Bridges told us to.
Here’s Jeff to tell you more about the app. We'll give you our hands-on review after the video:
As you can see in the video above, On the Music Path uses high production value video tutorials to teach a skill. We liked the teaching approach used in the videos. The guitar videos, for example, show both hands of the tutor on the guitar, all the way through the lesson, so you can see exactly what they are doing.
These videos are supplemented with onscreen guitar tabs (or optionally music notation) highlighting the notes being played with a little blue arrow above or below the Tab.
Each lesson begins with a short introduction from your tutor where they demonstrate the skill your are going to learn, what will be covered and how it can be used. These introduction videos are very personal and although it may sound a little hokey, it really feels like they are talking directly to you. Try it and see.
You're In Control
You can control the speed of the video playback and even slow it right down to quarter speed whilst retaining the exact same pitch. Very useful if you need to break a riff or song down note by note.
There can be some strange sort of echo like stutter if you play the video at the slowest speed, but you have to expect this really from the audio and the notes are still clearly audible to play along with.
Another great feature is being able to set in and out points on the video so that you can loop and repeat a section that you are trying to learn, very handy.
Once a video lesson is finished the app pauses with a screen that lets you tap once to carry on to the next part of the lesson, or double-tap to replay the last video. This seemingly small detail has a big impact when you are learning.
Instead of breaking your concentration, going back to a menu or rewinding a video, just double-tap to practice the skill again, and again. It is a very useful feature (one we had to use quite a lot!).
This app is not for wannabee super shredders or death metal fans necessarily, not at the moment anyway. The style of music being taught and the manner of your instructors is relatively sedate with Blues and Folk style guitar playing being the current topics covered.
Some well known musicians have lent their talent and knowledge to these tutorial videos though, talented and authentic musicians who love their craft.
Our teachers have won Grammy’s, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, played at the very top of the charts and even been nominated to Parliament…But that’s not why we chose them. We chose them because they’re great teachers: They have the patience, generosity and talent to inspire you to become a better musician.
Among these is Jackson Browne (Rock and Roll Hall of Famer); Songwriter, Folk Rock guitarist and Brit legend Richard Thompson (OBE); and noted guitarist Steve Postell who delivers a stellar series on the fundementals of guitar. These are really good, solid basic lessons that any beginner guitarist will find invaluable to starting them off on the right foot (or leg actually) in their guitar playing lifetime.
Only acoustic guitar lessons are available right now, covering mostly folk, blues and classical playing, but the app shows a 'Coming Soon' label on electric guitar lessons with Eric Johnson, Sitar with Ravi Shankar Piano with Vonda Shepherd and Drums with Steve Ferrone, amongst several other instruments, so there is a lot to look forward to.
Video Size and Quality
The videos are gorgeous and look fantstic on the iPad screen if you opt for the full HD quality lessons. You are looking at around a 750MB to 1GB download that will be stored on your iPad though.
If, like us, you are struggling not to overstuff a 16GB iPad, you will find yourself deleting a lot of apps, podcasts, music, photos and other video to make room for these lesson downloads.
You do have the option of Standard quality downloads or the much smaller low-res versions. These take about 380MB and 180MB on average respectively. We tried them all for most lessons and the low-res videos are ok to watch on the iPad screen if you don't need to see the detail but the Standard quality videos were more acceptable to watch on the iPad.
If you can make room for them though, the HD quality is worth it, especially if you plan on hooking your iPad up to a larger display whilst using On The Music Path. We used HDMI and VGA out to watch the video tutorials on our HDTV in the lounge and they looked and sounded fantastic.
The guitar tab overlay is always clear, no matter what quality video you have selected, so you won't have problems seeing the notes you need to play.
We think it would be better if there was an option to stream these lessons, meaning we wouldn't have to keep them on our iPad. This may mean we lose the portability of the lessons, but if your main use for the lessons was at home where you have wifi and broadband available, having to wait for the stream each time wouldn't bother us too much.
On the Music Path is a free download for your iPad, and most lessons have a sample provided for free.
Lessons range from $1.99 - $19.99 (£1.49 - £13.99) which might seem a bit expensive but, when an hour with your local guitar tutor costs around £25, consider what you're getting for your money:
- 45 mins to 1 hour of personal instruction from a professional musician
- Content to keep and re-watch again and again
- 1:1 lessons with top names in Folk/Blues/Country and soon Rock music
- Very high quality video
- Well produced teaching tools, such as tab display and video slow down with pitch retention
- Lifetime access to download lesson content again if deleted
If, like us, you are running a limited budget, then you may have to ration yourself to one or two downloads per month.
Given the size of the tutorials, especially at high quality and the amount of content in each one, you probably wouldn’t want to download all of the lessons at once anyway.
If learning to play guitar or becoming a more accomplished player , is something you have always wanted to do we think you will relish On the Music Path, especially if Blues, Folk and Classical is your thing.
As more lessons are added in the future in other areas such as Rock guitar, Keyboards, Bass, Ukulele and Drums, so the app has the potential to become your portal to all manner of musical instruction, right there on your iPad.
We highly recommend you check out On the Music Path, you have nothing to lose as the app is a free download from the App Store.
You will be able to tell if it is for you from the free samples that are included. Just be sure to free up some space on your iPad, especially if you are already struggling with your 16GB iPad like we are.
When we were at school, music lessons were just an excuse to muck around and, ever so occasionally, to actually play an instrument or learn a song. Needless to say we were generally bored out of our minds and completely uninspired by the whole thing.
If music lessons were like this though, using iPads and real instruments together to actually create something we would never have wanted to do anything else!
Neil Johnston the man behind Store Van Music, the company that made this song and video, is passionate about making music education fun and engaging. If this video is anything to go by we should all be listening to him.
This well crafted pop song will get stuck in your head, and if you really like it you should be able to buy it very soon from the iTunes store.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
Any Parent, Uncle, Auntie or Grandparent will know that keeping young children entertained is a full-time job. Fortunately for us then the iPad, with its bright colourful screen and touch interface, attracts Children like bees round a honey pot (not always a good thing of course).
New monthly mag
This monthly book-style app includes lots of educational based activities led by Brother and Sister characters, Teo and Bianca. The activities echo the kind that you would get in paper magazines, you know, the ones the kids nag you to buy every time you visit a shop. The price is about the same, or even less, than the 'analogue' version.
What do the kids think?
The iPad Creative kids like this app a lot. As the app has an educational bent to it some of the commentary is a little long for kids impatient to see everything but most of the activities really captured their imagination. Things like dressing up the Fire Fighter characters and for my three year old Son the Fire Engine noises. My just-turned-Six Daughter enjoyed the 'spot the difference' and 'find the things that don't belong' style activities.
The Farm activities are fun and the animal noises made the kids chuckle too. There is even a musical caterpillar page called 'Springtime Music Maker', that has a xylophone type of sound board plus some drums and bass guitar concealed around the picture, that the kids loved finding out about.
They liked the narrated stories too. These pop up the words so your kids can read along. The writing and narration are clear and very well pitched for the age group.
You can access different versions of a lot of the activities by shaking the iPad (gently!), for example the 'match the shape' puzzles can be changed for a new set of puzzle pieces, and the kids had their favourites they wanted to use.
Overall they were thoroughly entertained by KidsMag and they will no doubt be asking for it again when they get their iPad ration later today.
There are three pages at the end of the magazine that are designed to help your kids learn Spanish, by naming parts of a house, learning some Spanish verbs and Spanish words for things seen in this issue of the magazine. This is a nice teaching technique providing relevance and context, especially on repeated viewings, "What's that in Spanish?".
Whilst the Spanish language is not taught very much at school here in the UK, it is still nice for children to start learning another language at a young age. In the UK children are more often taught German and French at school, but with programmes like Dora the Explorer being shown on kids' TV, Spanish is becoming more common and personally, it is preferable as it can be more useful.
What about the cost?
We found that the kids seem to be more willing to play with the iPad app and spend longer doing so than with the paper magazines we buy them. These paper versions can cost anything up to £3.50 (~$5.70) each and we have to buy two of them to stop fighting!
KidsMag cost us just £1.79 ($2.99). The website does say $3.99 so the price may increase, but even so, the quality of narration, voice acting, animation and range of activities, easily makes up for that price. Plus the entertainment value of using 'Daddy's iPad' means the kids can't argue over who owns the magazine because it is not theirs to fight over. We just need to referee the iPad session!
Future issues and Publishing model
Portegno's publishing model interests us too. It is not a monthly subscription model but, like other magazines, they plan to make this a monthly issue, so it will be interesting to see how the sales go after the first issueand importantly if they can deliver fresh, new and entertaining content month after month.
In our experience kids will drop something like this as soon as they get bored, so it is a tough job they have on their hands. The next issue looks like fun though, with a Space theme and more Spanish learning so we'll see.
Advertising in a paid app?
We were disappointed to see 2 whole page ads for other Portenago apps in the mag. As much as we like their apps, having paid already for this app we don't like having to scroll past an ad page quickly before a little finger jabs the app store button, which they always seem to find.
We could be being a bit harsh here, it is not offensive, there is even some interactivity built-in to the ads, such as the 'iWash My Dogs' page shown below where you can click on each of the 4 washing stages and see the cartoon dog change.
But because the add pages look just like one of the magazine pages, skipping past them upsets the kids as they think they are missing out on something and that just annoyed us to be honest. This might not bother you at all but we thought we should mention it just in case.
We know that a print mag will have adverts throughout, but somehow we don't expect to see them in paid for apps, and kids can't automatically buy things from printed pages, yet...
It's a small annoyance really, taken on balance we still think KidsMag is a great app.
Final Thoughts and Video
If you have little ones to entertain, especially around 5 years old and under, we think KidsMag is well worth the money. It is packed with bright, colourful and fun activities that include good educational value.
Kids will keep coming back to the activities to explore all the different variations and we think you will easily get a great deal of entertainment value out of this app.
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.
We think this looks great, it uses video and animated tabs to show you how to play some of the awesome licks you will of heard and more generic riffs in various styles, presented in a GarageBand-like lesson interface for your iPad.
Lessons will be hosted by top guitarist such as Joe Satriani and Zakk Wylde, covering various genres including Rock, Metal, Blues and even Jazz.
The free download of the app gives you five licks to learn and to access the daily lessons you have to subscribe. The prices are reasonable, $4.99 for one month, $12.99 for three months and $19.99 for a six month subscription (the best value option).
If you are learning guitar or if you want to improve your repertoire or keep your skills fresh this is a great idea. You can even utilise your subscription on your iPhone or iPod Touch too all for the same price.
The video above shows you all you need to know, a list of the features from Agile Partners' website is below, and the free download of the app should be going live in your local app store today.
As always, let us know in the comments below what you think and especially if you decide to subscribe.
Lick of the Day Features
- High quality videos of Guitar World’s award-winning instructors and guitar celebrities, such as Zakk Wylde, Joe Satriani, Gus G., and Phil Collen, demonstrating licks in a wide range of styles: Rock, Metal, Blues, Bluegrass, Classical, Jazz and more
- Timeless celebrity videos from the Guitar World Vault
- Standard and tab music notation for each lick that scroll in sync with videos on iPad
- Practice mode with settings that control music notation tempo, looping, audio synthesis, a metronome and more -- a great way for guitar players of all skill levels to practice each lick
- Dynamic fretboard that shows finger positions synchronized with the music notation (lefties can invert the fretboard)
- Performance notes written by Guitar World's instructors
- “Star” your favorite licks to find them later easily, and sort licks by genre and difficulty
- Download licks to any iOS-based device that you own -- iPad, iPhone and iPod touch
Have you ever been out and about taking photos and been presented with a situation where you had no clue how to capture the image properly, or you have tried taking lots of photos but not one of them came out right? Us too! Help is at hand, literally.
PhotoCaddy has been out for a while on the iPhone, but recently Aspyre Apps released an iPad optimised version of the app.
PhotoCaddy HD is basically a virtual photographer’s assistant (hence the name) offering tips, pointers and specific instruction on certain techniques for varying situations.
Covering topics such as Essentials, Outdoor, People and Landscapes each Category is broken down further into different areas, with some topics providing basic information and camera settings for the situation or subject being photographed and some discussing more advanced techniques for the photographer venturing beyond the basics.
In addition to the 500+ built-in tips, an innovative feature is the user contributed tips, allowing you to access advice and pointers from other photographers using the app. This community, collaborative learning, approach is great way to add value to the app and can provide a wealth of information from fellow photographers who have been there before, and perhaps already made the mistakes trying to capture the subject you are considering.
These kind of tips can often produce the little nuggets that you had never considered and may not be the obvious things. As well as being able to access tips from other photographers, you can also vote on them, saying whether you found the tip useful or not. Arguably, this kind of voting system for tips causes the more helpful ones rise to the top and motivate the contributors to provide quality tips that receive positive votes, providing a useful database for other photographers.
The app also allows you to make your own notes for any of the topics, a nice touch for those of us used to carrying around little pocket notebooks for scribbling our observations in for future reference and critique sessions where we pick apart what we did, and could have done better, on our shoots.
PhotoCaddy HD is £2.39 ($3.99) in the app store, and we think it is definitely worth checking out for all levels of non-Pro Photographer.
Picturesque by Kelibo LLC looks like a fun app for kids to get creative on the iPad but also learn about perspective in art, with a little bit of education on the alphabet thrown in.
Combined with fun music and lots of sounds that will appeal to young children it looks like a nice way to play with the kids and share their creations either via e-mail or by saving into your iPad's Photos app.
It does seem to be a little bit too animated at times, with some of the animations being reminiscent of PowerPoint's animation effects, but on the whole, for $1.99 (£1.19), Picturesque looks like a good way to get the kids involved creatively with the iPad and keep them entertained for at least a while.
If you are a Graphic Designer or Sound Artist yourself, Kelibo are looking for people like you to get involved with the app's development. Check the link for more info.
Parents are getting a lot of help recently with teaching and literacy for their children using the iPad. Just yesterday we mentioned a fun and interactive app to help pre-school children learn their Alphabet and today we heard about the release of Thumbelina for the iPad.
This interactive children's book is from Parent-programmers Touchoo, who focus on producing beautiful book-apps for Toddlers and pre-school children. We have to say the illustrations by artist and illustrator Hagit Hashimshoni are really appealing and simply gorgeous. More of her illustrations for this book are to be found in a Flickr group here.
An interesting approach has been taken in some scenes, as you will see in the video above, where children are encouraged to interact with the Thumbelina story by physically moving the drawing and acting out the story. We thought this was a nice innovation and will help to engage the child's imagination by becoming actively involved with the story telling process.
There are four ways to experience the story of Thumbelina with this app (taken from the iTunes description):
- Read to Me – listen to the story, narrated in English
- Read Myself – the most flexible story time experience
- Record myself – your voice, your language, and your way to tell the story!
- Auto page flip – Using any one of the narration options, pages will turn automatically. Best for little ones, when they’re reading alone.
Thumbelina for the iPad is on sale at 50% of its usual price until 31 August to celebrate the launch of the app, so you can pick it up now for £1.19 ($1.99) if you are quick.
If you try it, let us know what you and your little ones think of it, in the comments below.
Children and toddlers, even Babies, love the iPad and other touch screen devices. The touch interface is entirely natural to them because they use their sense of touch (and mostly taste with Babies) to explore the works from birth onwards.
It is no surprise then that a number of iPad apps are appearing that appeal to this natural exploration but also that are visually stimulating using the large screen of the iPad.
Interactive Alphabet for iPad is one such app recently released by Piieka Street. Using gorgeous visuals and soothing sounds to create a very comforting and relaxing learning environment for pre-school children (and Parents too).
The most engaging feature for children though is the interactive element of each page. There are different ways of interacting with each letter. Some animations are triggered by touch with accompanying sounds, some offer a creative element, for example the letter Q (Quill) becomes a drawing page and the X (Xylophone) lets little ones create music.
It is a lovely way to use your iPad to occupy any young ones and help them learn their letters. Don't worry about them hogging your iPad, you can play with the app once they have gone to bed!
For its launch price of £1.79 ($2.99) up until 16th September, you can't go wrong and would probably be hard pushed to find anything in printed form that could match the fun and interactivity of this app at anywhere near that price point.
A very good preview of the app is provided in the video below, giving you an idea of the interactivity within the app.
As always, let us know what you think, especially if you have the app yourself, in the comments below.
(edit: Video removed - YouTube version was not authorised, text amended to refer to Inkling website to watch the video)
Imagine the scene: You are about to leave home for the first time and enter the world of Higher Education, you're off to College or University. You are excited and nervous. Everything is packed, and you are ready to walk out of the door and into your new 'adult' life, but just as you are about to leave your Parents hand you an A4 sized box.
"Yes", they say, "it is an iPad!". They also tell you that all of your textbooks are in that little box too, and there's more, they tell you that you have credit enough on your iPad for hundreds of individual chapters from any textbook you need. "Don't spend it all at once!" they say, and they mean exactly that, you don't have to spend all of your credit at once on one very expensive textbook. Instead you can buy just the chapters you need that term (semester) and just the ones you will need for the rest of the year.
With the release of Inkling for the iPad, this is now a reality, and we think it has very important implications for the publishing business as a whole.
What is Inkling?
Inkling is the name of a new app, and also the company who have developed, with the publishers/authors, new electronic versions of certain key textbooks. The four launch titles, all from McGraw-Hill, are:
This is certainly only the beginning. As faculty and institutions begin to see the impact of using electronic versions of these textbooks and the learner engagement that comes from using the iPad, and arguably other tablet-type devices, we are certain that this type of application, if not just Inkling themselves, will radically change the way that key texts are delivered and distributed to students at all levels of the Education stream.
It is a development that has got the team here at iPad Creative very excited about the future of publishing and Education.
What makes Inkling books special?
These textbooks are not just PDFs or electronic versions of the paper version. No, these are enhanced textbooks feature interactive illustrations, video, text highlighting, electronic versions of margin notes, and one of the most interesting and creative features in our opinion, collaborative note sharing with other registered Inkling users that you know, e.g. those studying the same course, as well as faculty members.
That's right, you can make (electronic) notes in the textbook and share these with other Inkling users by connecting with them via their username, but more impressive is the ability to subscribe to a Tutor's note stream, enhancing the learning interchange and providing Educators with another route for learner engagement, something that they are on constant quest to maintain and improve.
(This video is hosted at CNN and it looks like the embedded Flash video will not work on your iOS device, but you might be able to watch it on your device here. We mention the pertinent points for our discussion below anyway.)
In the video above, Matt MacInnis, says that Inkling went back to the authors and publishers to make these electronic textbooks so much more than the paper version, adding in interactive features such as quizzes which not only give you feedback on correct or incorrect answers, but if you are incorrect, it tells you why, and what the correct answer is to help you learn where you went wrong.
Not so different in the Classroom
You might imagine with all this new fangled stuff that it would be a bit weird sat next to fellow students with their traditional paper version when your Professor calls out, "could everyone turn to page 128". Because of the different nature of the electronic textbooks in Inkling, they do not really have pages as you would in a paper book, but Inkling have made efforts to help users out in this area by making it easy to jump to any page. The built-in search gives you the advantage though, enabling you to quickly access any text or illustration in the book, as well as in your own notes that include those key terms.
The iTunes Music Store Pricing Model
One of the key features that stood out about Apple's iTunes Music Store when it was introduced, and one of the aspects that shook up the Music Industry, was the ability for customers to buy individual songs from an album. Before, we had to buy the whole album on CD and, although there were other online music stores around, this purchasing model and improved customer choice really hit the mainstream with iTunes. In other words, we could pick and choose what we wanted, or needed, to create an à la carte product tailored to us as the customer.
Now a very similar model can be applied to the academic publishing industry. Previously, the only option for students was to buy the whole tome and swallow the hefty price tag but now, with the introduction of individual chapter purchasing, Inkling are opening up a new, à la carte, way to buy.
The price of buying the paper version of the textbooks quoted in the above video is $180, but by selecting just the chapters that are needed the student could only end up spending about $50. Savings that both the student and Parents will appreciate, arguably providing less of a barrier to accessing learning resources for those who find it difficult to afford, especially if the iPad does not have to be purchased by them, but is issued to the student by the Academic establishment as part of their enrolment (from reading the FAQs it looks like your purchases follow you to a new device if you get an iPad after finishing your studies, so your purchases are not lost).
Some of us who are not so close to College age any more might bemoan the loss of the traditional paper based books and the feel of physically flipping through the pages and scribbling notes in the margins. It has to be acknowledged though that the form factor of the iPad lends itself perfectly to reading textbook pages, being about the same size, and for a generation that are not as used to holding and using paper books, it is probably not much of an issue and is certainly what the future will look like.
As we have already said, the launch of Inkling and no doubt other similar products eventually, fills us with a good deal of excitement about the future of publishing and the user benefits it will bring, even if it is a shift in thinking for the Publishing houses. With a big name like McGraw-Hill behind Inkling's launch though, it looks like an inevitable march towards a different purchasing model, at least in the Academic sphere where not all of a book is required or needed.
What do you think? Are you involved in Education in some way? Do you have any thoughts on how this might be a good move? Or do you have some serious reservations about this development? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.
Have you ever sat through a seminar, convention or training session making frequent and frantic notes, only to find you can't read what you have written weeks later when you review them? Or have you scribbled down something really cryptic that was obviously meaningful at the time, but is a complete mystery to you now? Then you may well be interested in Live Notes the latest release from Hong Kong based developers Humble Gaming.
Live Notes is a Voice Recorder, of which there are many on the app store, but this one combines voice recording with synchronised note taking to create a very useful app. With this app you can find a handwritten note or sketch on your iPad from any event you have recorded and, by clicking on it, hear the audio that was being recorded at the exact moment you made that note or sketch, giving you the context around it.
Hopefully this will help your memory of what you were trying to convey by your seemingly random scribblings on your iPad (especially if you have used your finger to scribble with and not a stylus).
You can also flag certain moments in the audio recording as you go along, or even at a later time, so that your key points are easily accessible later. It is a very interesting app, and we wish we had this available to us on numerous occasions in the past when we have looked at our notes and wondered whether we were even in the right room for all the sense they made.
Here is a rundown of Live Note's features from the app store:
- Flag important moments during or after your Voice Recordings to play back from that particular point
- User Friendly interface inspired by professional productivity application “Pages”
- Easy to use tools, begin recording in a single click
- Thumbnails for Notes and ability to flip through them on the front screen
- Use the iPad's Keyboard to type notes in different fonts
- Highlight text with different colors
- Drawing Lines with Variable Width and Color options
- Free Hand mode for Handwritten Notes and Multi Colored Pens
- 4 Different Paper Styles
- Drawing Shapes in Multi Colors
- Choose your own Size/Thickness for your Pencil, Highlighter, Eraser, Lines, and Outline to the shapes
- Email your notes as a PDF
- Save your Voice Recording on your computer through iTunes
- Landscape or Portrait Option Available
- Eliminate or delete anything you have drawn or written within a note with a single tap
Creative Potential and Learning Styles
We like Live Notes because of the potential it offers to Creatives for making notes that mean something. Imagine recording a client meeting (after first letting them know they are being recorded, of course) and taking notes at the same time. Rather than rely on your interpretation of some sketch or note made at that meeting, you can hear exactly what was being said at the moment you made your scribblings. There have been hardware/software solutions to do this before, but it is so much better to do this on your iPad that you are going to be taking everywhere with you anyway!
This is in addition to the other uses in College lectures, seminars, training sessions, etc., helping you to remember the topic(s) discussed in more accurate detail, aiding your recall and learning. As anyone who has studied learning even a little will be able to tell you, there are different types of learner, each type having a preference towards some sort of stimulation of the senses, and the more of those you can hit in one go, the better your chance of retaining and recalling that information.
In this case, Live Notes is going to obviously help the Audio/Visual learners, but there might be a bit of Kinesthetic thrown in if you are sketching something out maybe, we think most people will benefit from using this app though.
Live Notes is available now on the app store for £3.49 ($5.99), and for the functionality it offers, we think that is a fair price. If you do get it, let us know in the comments below what you think of Live Notes and how you have used it.
We let you know back in mid-March that Wonder Warp Software were planning to release an iPad specific version of their brilliant piano tutor software Etude. Well yesterday the Etude app was updated to a Universal app that will support both the iPhone/iPod Touch and your iPad, with device specific user interface and features.
The iPad version looks really nice and they have maximised the use of the screen space to show much more of the score at the same time.
Even better, if you already own the Etude iPhone version, your iPad version is free! Otherwise, the app will only cost you $4.99 (£2.99), which is a very good price when you consider that you can download all of the sheet music and songs to play for free, with premium, artist licensed songs coming soon.
There's more - Free Mac software
If you are on a Mac and want something to help create chord progressions or use as a teaching aid, you can get a free copy of Wonder Warp's SimpleChord desktop app. This software lets you look up piano chords and create chord progressions of your own, and supports an external midi keyboard too.
It also includes a midi export option for the chord progressions that you create in SimpleChord, and these midi files can then be used in Garageband very simply as a new track, ready for you to add the rest of your masterpiece, or just use it to practice with.
SimpleChord would normally cost you $12.95, so it is worth a tweet to spread the word. Details are here.
Chase Jarvis is an inspirational pro photographer and visual artist who has a really great attitude to sharing his knowledge and experience with other Creatives to form a community spirit around creating art, especially in the fields of photography, and more recently, video.
Chase has just launched a venture in conjunction with CreativeTechs which they are calling CreativeLIVE. CreativeTechs have already established themselves as providers of free, live streaming, software and skills instruction in the creative field, and we have recently benefitted from some of their free courses including Lightrooom, iPhone application programming, and Photography instruction.
Now they have upped their game by including free instruction from some of the leading names in the creative fields, and the list is impressive. From Chase's blog:
On the photography side of things, we excited to announce in quarter one featuring Vincent LaForet, David DuChemin, Zack Arias, Scott Bourne, Art Wolfe, and many others. Wanna learn how to have vision in photography? We've got the instructor. HD Dslr Cinema, we've got it. Lighting? We've got it. Software? We've got that too. And if we don't have it? Tell us and if there's demand, we'll create it for you.
There are some great photographers featured here, but other areas will be covered too, there is a Watercolor 101 class starting on 28th May for example. This is something we are really excited about and we wanted to let you know about it too. The live streaming courses use WebEx Webinar software, and we usually join the webinar on our Macs, but the release of the WebEx client for the iPad has us wondering if we can join these classes from our iPads.
We know you can watch the paid-for course downloads, which are great value, on the iPhone or iPad, but the iPad seems the perfect device to watch and learn on whilst sat on the sofa instead of having to get the laptop out and plug it all in.
Chase Jarvis has made an introductory video which you can see below, and the iPad makes a brief appearance at 1:07. We recommend you definitely check out the new CreativeLIVE website.
Macrumrors have reported that Apple are promoting the iPad to Educational Institutions with a special 10-pack bundle for the Wi-fi only models (not the 3G models). Academic organisations can benefit from the fairly modest saving of $20 (about £13.41) for non AppleCare iPads and a slightly better $40 (£26.82) discount per unit if they opt for AppleCare.
The iPads will be supplied in one big box without individual packaging though, so it is very much a distribution pack. The Educational establishment will not be allowed to resell them of course.
Individuals (Students/Educators) who would normally receive an Educational discount from the Apple Store are not included though it seems. We have gone through the Education Store and verified that no discount is applied if shopping for just the one iPad.
Why is this of interest?
Even before the iPad was announced, many commenters discussed the merit of using the device in an Education environment, and it excites us to think of the creative uses the iPad can have in a classroom.
It is easy to think of how the iPad can be used in areas such as art, music/audio and video production, Languages, Geography, Design, etc. It also seems a natural fit for Internet based research, as well as being used for textbooks and e-learning.
In fact, when you sit and think about it for a minute, there are many possibilities of using such a simple, and let's face it gorgeous, device in the Education arena.
The modest discounts offered here aren't going to completely enable the adoption of the iPad, but it does mean that Apple are thinking along these lines too and this opens up new opportunities for engaging learners of any age, but especially those of school age, who arguably have more of a leaning towards the use of technology in their learning.
Have you got any ideas for how the iPad can be used in Education? We would love to hear them in the comments.