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Entries in learning (18)

A Picturesque iPad app

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.

The Littlest Girl On The Big iPad Screen

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.

Interactive Features

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.

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There are four ways to experience the story of Thumbelina with this app (taken from the iTunes description):

  1. Read to Me – listen to the story, narrated in English
  2. Read Myself – the most flexible story time experience
  3. Record myself – your voice, your language, and your way to tell the story!
  4. 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.

The iPad - Even Babies Can Use It

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).

Each letter of the alphabet has its own page which fills the iPad screen. The letter is also spoken in a nice soft voice with some bubbly background music, which can be changed.

 

Something Special

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.

 

Inkling: It's like iTunes for your Textbooks

(edit: Video removed - YouTube version was not authorised, text amended to refer to Inkling website to watch the video)

Inkling_Two_Up_highres.jpgImagine 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

Inkling_Reading_C_highres.jpgYou 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.

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More info

There is a good FAQ at the Inkling site which answers a lot of questions about the detail of using the app and there are some nice little video demos of the key features too.

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.

Your thoughts?

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.

Live Notes Saves Your Brain, Helps Recall

GA_512.pngHave 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.

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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

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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.

Sheet Music on Steroids now on your iPad - Etude for iPad released

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.

Etude can be downloaded from the app store now, or you can see more information about the app and a video demo here.

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.

CreativeLIVE - Free Skills and Software Training From Top Creatives

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 LaForetDavid DuCheminZack AriasScott 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.

´╗┐


iPad? I'll have ten!

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.

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