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Entries in Students (4)

iPad Musicians Turn the Page - Wirelessly. Here's How.

So, you are learning to play a song on your instrument of choice and you are just getting into the flow of the piece when you have to take your hands, or at least a hand, off the instrument to turn the sheet music, interrupting your progress and throwing off your pace. If the sheets are loose leafed pages you can also end up inadvertently tipping the whole stack off your music holder and on to the floor (or is that just us?).

Even if you have 'gone digital' and loaded your sheet music or tabs onto your iPad, you still have to pause right in the middle of a phrase and turn the page by swiping or tapping the iPad screen.

Masterdaelion is an app that aims to help you solve this problem. The strap line on the website reads 'Focus on the essence of music' and the developers aim to help you do this by providing a wireless page turning function within a sheet music displaying app.

You will need:

  • An iPhone with Bluetooth enabled
  • An iPad, also with Bluetooth enabled
  • Some sheet music loaded into the Masterdaelion app (in the common PDF format) via iTunes File Sharing.
  • A moveable limb or body appendage that you can wave in front of the iPhone (or someone to do this for you)

You must have an iPad and an iPhone, each with a copy of the Masterdaelion app installed (a one-off purchase for both devices as it is Universal).

After linking the iPhone via Bluetooth to your iPad, the app uses the camera in the iPhone as a motion detector basically. As soon as something moves across the iPhone's field of view it tells Masterdaelion on your iPad to turn the page.

The iPhone simply needs to be pointed at something fairly plain, such as a wall or the floor, so that it can detect when an object enters the frame.  The video below shows an early demo of the app in use, and why you might want to use it too.

We thought this was a creative use of the Bluetooth pairing and a nice way to integrate the iPhone and iPad, but we are not sure about the price at $20.99 (£12.49).

Frankly, for the functionality it provides, although unique, we think that is far too much to charge and will probably prevent a lot of people buying it, especially if they are students with limited iTunes credits.

The good news is there is a Free Lite version of Masterdaelion in the app store, so you can try it out first. If you decide you really need it, then you can go ahead and get the full version of Masterdaelion knowing what you are paying for and you have not wasted any money if you don't like it.

We want your thoughts, have you tried Masterdaelion (Lite or Full versions)? What do you think? Are there any alternatives? Let us know in the comments below.

iPad in Education - A True Story

We have been reading with interest the many stories popping up around the web about iPads being used in Education in interesting and creative ways. In many cases the introduction of iPads into education establishments has been as a pilot, limited to certain groups of students or subject areas.

One story that we have really enjoyed following and one which we wanted to make sure you knew about is the project at Cedars School of Excellence, an independent school in Greenock, Scotland whose pupils are aged 5-17 years.

Cedars has undertaken the first 1:1 deployment of the iPad for their pupils. With just 105 pupils this may not seem like much, but the logistics of managing, maintaining and updating this many iPads is a fun but extremely challenging problem to face.

Frasier Spiers is the developer behind some of our favourite and most used bits of software, namely FlickrExport for Aperture and iPhoto, as well as the Viewfinder for iPad app, but he also happens to be the Computing Teacher at Cedars and the main force behind this project. 

Frasier has been getting a lot of media attention because of this project recently (even appearing on Leo Laporte and Sarah Lane's iPad Today show) so you may have seen some of this already, but he posted every step of the implementation on his own blog, where you can read the whole story and background to the project. There is also information and news about how the iPads are being used by Teachers and students on the school's wiki, especially the blogs section.

We are always interested in how the iPad is being used creatively and constructively in Education as well as other spheres of activity, so if you know of any other notable stories in this regard or you are involved with something like this yourself, please leave a comment and let us know about it.

CourseNotes 2.0 - Share Notes via Facebook (and more)

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The first version of the CourseNotes app launched at the same time as the iPad earlier this year, but the app's Developers, Dear Panda LLC, have just released a number of significant new features with their 2.0 version.

In addition to the previous functionality that included:

  • Creating and organising notes/sketches in various ways
  • Creating To-do or assignment reminders
  • Integrated research tools to add to notes
  • E-mail and network sharing
  • A very attractive UI

the new features are:

  • Online export of notes, for viewing, sharing or printing notes online
  • In-app viewing of friends' shared notes
  • Support for bullet list formatting in notes
  • Premium note content available for in-app purchase

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Top Two

The two big features that stood out to us are 1) online sharing of notes and 2) the new premium content.

Online sharing takes the previous functionality a bit further and sits well with students who would no doubt already be avid users of Facebook. The app uses Facebook account verification to sync your notes online and make them available via a custom link that can be automatically shared via Facebook. There are three online sharing options:

  • Just Me - no sharing
  • My Friends - allowing existing Friends on Facebook to share your notes
  • Everybody - allowing any user of CourseNotes to see your notes

Additionally, you can login and see what notes your friends are sharing for all subjects they have made public. So if you were ill and missed that very important pre-test class, you can add your friend's notes to your iPad from their Facebook link, right inside the app.

This is in addition to the ad-hoc network and email sharing that was available before, so students really have a nice range of collaborative options with this new version. Facebook comments and feedback are starting to pick up with this release, so that should help spur on further development of these features.

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Premium content comes to CourseNotes via in-app purchase and initially takes the form of just two study guides, 'French verb conjugations' and 'the Periodic Table of the Elements', with the Press Release stating: "Additional study-sheets on topics including Art History and U.S. History will follow shortly after the launch."

'Shows Potential'

We are not sure who is developing these guides, but at up to $2.99 per purchase we are hoping that the quality and authority of the study guides is being verified. In a way, they can only be very generalist without official textbook Publishers being involved, unlike Inkling's official textbook replacement offering we covered last week.

That being said, with the addition of a raft of useful and popular learning resources CourseNotes could become the full-blown study companion and central repository that students need on their iPads.

If Dear Panda can build up a decent range of study aids very quickly then they could establish themselves as the go-to resource for iPad wielding students who want to share and learn together using a device that is always with them and instantly available.

Without the hassle of waiting for the OS to start up or booking a slot to use the Library PCs, students can already share, collaborate and research topics wherever they happen to be with the iPad using an app like CourseNotes.

CourseNotes 2.0 is out now in the app store at $4.99 (£2.99), a brief overview can be seen in the video below.

If you have tried CourseNotes out on your iPad and have any thoughts about it at all we would love to hear from you in the comments.

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.