AT Friday: iMovie on the Go

I had taken a lot of videos and pictures on my iPad and wanted to piece together a nice, fifteen minute video.  I wasn’t looking to do anything too complicated and was hoping to have the convenience of editing on the iPad itself.  I bought the $5 iMovie app and couldn’t be happier with the purchase.

For me, the biggest perk of the app is the convenience factor.  I didn’t have to waste any time transferring my content to a laptop to be edited.  The app displays all the media content on the device and photos, video, and music can be added to the project with one click.  With a swipe of the finger, you can edit clip lengths, split clips, and freeze a frame.  Adding text and editing transitions are really easy, too.  For a novice video-editor like myself, I have found the iMovie app very straightforward to learn.  There is a built-in help feature which brings up descriptions of all the various buttons/options.

As my video begins to get longer (around 10 minutes now), I have noticed that the app has begun to lag a bit.  It’s only a second or two, but certainly very noticeable.  I’m wondering how the app will hold up as the video continues to get longer.  One feature that I wish could be slightly improved is the audio editing capability.  Working with music you add or sound from your clips is not as simple as some of the other features in the app, but I have found various work arounds through splitting clips and such.

Overall, I am very pleased with the app.  It’s great if you want to produce a high-quality, HD film and only need simple video-editing functionality.  When it comes time to publish your finished product, there are also plenty of options.

AT Friday: Horizon Report

The Horizon Report, a collaborative effort between the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, explores a variety of emerging technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on higher education institutions across the globe.  The report focuses on six technological areas and their real-world applications at colleges and universities.  The six technologies discussed are massively open online courses and tablet computing (emergence within the next 12 months), gamification and learning analytics (emergence within 2-3 years), and 3D printing and wearable technology (emergence within 4-5 years).  The two areas that I am most excited about are learning analytics and wearable technology.

Learning analytics involves collecting large volumes of data and using the data to help students learn better.  Learning analytics can be used to help teachers gauge how well students are absorbing course material and to make learning more adaptive to student progress.  For example, Arizona State University has turned to adaptive tutoring software to standardize parts of its math curriculum.  The software has worked tremendously well and the university has plans to incorporate the adaptive learning software into its economics, psychology, biology, chemistry, and physics programs.

One of the most anticipated wearable technologies is Google’s “Project Glass.” Check out the project here!  The device resembles a pair of glasses and “displays relevant information for users as they go about their daily routines.  Users can access the Internet via voice command, communicate email replies, and more.”   The glasses will also have the ability to alert the user to pertinent information as it arises; if their regular train to campus is running late, for example, the goggles could let them know and propose an alternative route.   How cool is that???  A device like this could bring tremendous improvement in productivity into the higher education world.  Other wearable technologies in the works range from gloves that enhance responsive feeling when performing surgery to interactive garments and smart clothing.

Interested in reading the entire 2013 Horizon Report? Check it out at:

http://www.nmc.org/publications/2013-horizon-report-higher-ed

AT Friday: StudyBlue

Do you ever find yourself using your smart phone or iPad while waiting in a line? In bed after waking up? On the subway? As a student, imagine how much more productive you could be if you could get some quality studying in during these times.  StudyBlue is a free, online study tool that helps you master course material while on the go as well as during traditional study sessions.

StudyBlue is a platform for creating digital flashcards and has mobile applications for the iPad, iPhone, and android devices.  You can create your own flashcards or find flashcards on topics that other StudyBlue users have already created.   I did a quick search for some of the classes I have taken at Tufts, such as Immunology, Music as Culture, and Spanish, and found many sets of publically available flashcards for each of these courses.  A drawback to the system is that you cannot edit flashcards others have posted.

Digital flashcards on StudyBlue function like paper flashcards.  On one side of the flashcard you type a term or question, and on the other side you type the definition or answer.  In addition to having text on the front side of the flashcard, you can also insert images and voice recordings.  Finally, you can choose whether you want your cards to be public or private.

When it comes time to study with the cards you have created or selected, you have the option of viewing the cards in the order they were created or in random order.  The app will first display the term side of the flashcard, and once you are ready, you tap the screen to see the other side. You will then be able to mark on the screen whether you got the answer right or wrong.  It is easy to adjust the settings if you prefer to see the definition side of the card first.  StudyBlue tracks your progress, indicates your percentage mastery, and allows you to go back and review the cards you got wrong.

StudyBlue has really transformed my studying.  If you have even the slightest inclination to use flashcards in your studies, I recommend giving StudyBlue a shot!

AT Friday: Instant Audience Feedback with Poll Everywhere

http://www.polleverywhere.com/

Are you giving a presentation soon and looking to receive instant audience feedback?  Poll Everywhere is one solution.  It is a web based technology that allows audience members to respond through text messages, the web, or twitter.

On the Poll Everywhere website, you can play around with the technology by creating your own poll (aka a question you would like to ask).  There are two options for answer choices: open-ended or multiple choice.  An open-ended poll will allow the audience to respond with anything.  For multiple choice questions, you can type out answer choices or provide images or links as answer choices.  If you have all your questions already typed out, there is a formatting trick to upload all your questions with just a few clicks.

In terms of cost, Poll Everywhere is free for audience sizes of less than 40 people.  With more than 40 people, there is a monthly cost associated with the service.  For Tufts classes of less than 40 students, Poll Everywhere could be considered as an alternative to clickers.  Students would no longer need to carry around clickers and could submit answers through their laptop or cell phone.  One downside to Poll Everywhere is that you do need internet access.

Poll Everywhere claims that their customers use their service for audience choice awards, market research, training comprehension checks, in class quizzes, texting questions to expert presenters and for many other occasions.  If this sounds like a service you could use, check out their website.  They have a good FAQ page which will likely answer a lot of your questions.

Happy Polling.

Jeff

Tech Tuesday: Nearpod

For classes in which all students have access to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod, I highly recommend checking out the app called Nearpod.  Nearpod is an educational app that allows for the synchronized use of mobile apple devices in the classroom.  Professors can not only share slides with their students and manage the flow of the lecture, but they can also receive real-time feedback and input from students.  Professors (or anyone giving a presentation) can create a presentation that people can follow along with on their apple device.  Using Nearpod, professors can weave interactive components into their presentations (more to come on this!)

So how does Nearpod work?

I found Nearpod to be extremely easy to use from both the instructor and student perspectives.   As the presenter, you will need to create a free account at nearpod.com.  When logging into Nearpod on a computer, you will have the ability to create a new presentation.  You can create a presentation from scratch or upload a pdf presentation, and in either case, you can supplement it with some neat Nearpod interactive features (almost getting to these!)

Once the professor begins sharing the presentation, Nearpod will display a PIN that the professor can provide to the students.  The students simply download the Nearpod app to their device (no account needed), type in the pin, and then follow along with the presentation.

What interactive features does Nearpod offer?

Professors can add interactive features such as Q&As, quizzes, videos, polls, and drawing tools.  With the Q&As, quizzes, polls, and drawing tools, the professors can see students’ responses in real time.  The drawing tool is particularly neat, as students can draw something from scratch or draw over a picture that the professor provides.  This is a great tool for students to map out their understanding of difficult concepts.  Professors can then see the drawings and share particular ones with the entire class.

Closing remarks

Nearpod definitely has a place in the college classroom.  It is a great way to combine a presentation with interactive features.  Since the professor uses his or her iPad to manage the presentation, he or she is free to walk around the room.  The two major drawbacks are that presentations cannot be altered on the fly and that students must have access to a mobile apple device.

-Jeffrey Taylor

Tech Tuesday: webex

Looking to host meetings online with one or two other people?  The free version of webex is a great tool.  Businesses and educational institutions across the world use paid/premium webex packages to hold online meetings and collaboration sessions.   The free webex service, which allows groups of 2-3 people to meet online, offers much of the same functionality as the paid subscriptions and can be more than sufficient for smaller teams.

One way to think of Webex is as a beefed up version of Skype with lots of additional features to facilitate online collaboration.  I find the video, audio, and text chat features in webex to work well.  Like Skype, webex allows you to share your desktop (although I find webex to be much more reliable in this regard) but also includes additional collaboration features, such as:

  • File upload: Upload large files to present and discuss during meetings, use the comments feature to suggest changes, and organize your files in folders (250MB of storage)
  • Meeting minutes: Create relevant notes for each meeting
  • Record and playback meetings: Share with colleagues who could not attend the online meeting
  • Drawing tools: Mark up or draw on shared documents

At any point during a webex meeting, the host can transfer control over to another participant.  This new presenter now has the ability to share his or her desktop and take control over the overall meeting functionality.

Signing up for the free version of webex could not be easier.  Simply go to the signup page and provide your name and email address.  The free version includes unlimited meetings, file sharing, instant messaging and many of the other core collaboration features.  The one drawback of the free version is that your meetings can have a maximum of 3 people.

If you’re looking to video chat and catch upwith a friend who is abroad, Skype or other simple video chat services are still your best bets.  If you’re looking to host meetings and collaborate with others, webex might be the right option for you.

-Jeff Taylor