ipod_Map_comics

As a bit of a google maps enthusiast I love Tom Barrett’s Maths Maps ideas. It looks to me like a nice way to show some ‘real’ application of maths in an engaging way.

I am still supporting/interfering with an ipod touch project (site gone but not forgotten on the Internet archive). This gave me the excuse a few weekends ago to spend some time messing about with the jQTouch — jQuery plugin which simplifies developing webpages for mobile devices. I am experimenting with building some sort of base site/web app for the touch.

One of the nice things about the iPod Touch is that you can add webpages as ‘applications’ to your home screen. Apple provide a way which jQTouch supports of giving a webpage an icon the idea with the site I am working on, the iPod Playground, is that it should provide an easy way to present links etc to the children this avoids typing long urls into the touch, the webpage could be edited

A couple of weeks ago I went over to Glencairn to give the maps a try out. The task I gave the pupils was presented on one of the ‘pages’ of a jQTouch page. Based on one of Tom’s shape problems, the children visited the Jardin du Luxembourg and collected screenshots of different 2D shapes, these were then built into Comics with Comic Touch. We encouraged the children to work in pairs to collect shapes, one child to keep the instructions open the other to click on the link to the map. Then bump the images from the image gatherer to the one with the instructions on his/her screen. The lesson seemed to go pretty well the children accessing the maps, taking pictures and creating comics with out a problem.

I am hoping to get the children to try a Street View problem soon. The Slides from flickr show some of the screens of the jQTouch webpage and a couple of street view images on the touch.

Creating the Tasks

The jQtouch setup is very easy to work with, everything in a ‘site’ is really one page, jQtouch provides a nice standard interface, navigation and animation for that navigation.

It took me a while to figure out how to link to the maps so that I dropped a pin where I wanted it and that pin would have a name on it using the Name and the location in the query seems to work:
Street View Shapes 1

Weeorgangeguy

You need to have a pin on the map to get street view to work. On the iPod touch or iPhone you click on the Wee Orange Guy to switch to street view. As an aside I think street view on a browser uses flash, obviously not on the iPod but it is a very smooth experience.

Apple provide quite a few nice tricks to help web app development. You can set an icon for your webpage, so that if folk add it to their home screen it looks like a ‘real’ app. You can also set a splash screen image which will show until the page has loaded when opened as a web app. I have a wee problem with the Flickr Lunes site I blogged about recently if I set: to run in full screen users cannot hold on an image to copy it to their photos, pretty much killing the functionality of the app, so I have had to lose the splash screen. I’ve been working on an ipod/phone version of my A flickr CC search toy called Flickr Search and Stamp this just lets you stamp a flickr photo with attribution. Like Flickr Lunes it only find photos you are allowed to alter so should keep you on the right side of the copyright fairy.

It has taken me a while to get round to the second post based on a morning at Glencairn primary working on the ipod touch project. In fact the pupils have beat me to it: Comic Twist.

After syncing the ipods I did a wee bit of work with the class on their new apps.

The first app was Comic Twist which allows you to create comics with up to 3 panes a little like Comic Touch, the Comic Life for the ipod/phone. I went for comic touch as it is cheaper that Comic Touch and does 3 panes in a comic.

The second app is i think going to be a great one, it has been sitting in front of my nose for quite while, firstClass. FirstClass is the email and communication systems used in North Lanarkshire Education and I have been rather slow to realise its potential for all sort of things. It is a great way to have discussions, share files etc. I’ve used the mobile client on my iPhone a lot mostly for email, it is amazingly quick even in an area with a very poor mobile connection.

I just had not thought of using it with pupils. The weekend before the iPod touch conference it suddenly dawned on me that we could use it to pass files around the classroom, messaging etc. At the conference the children from the Friezland iPod Project were using firstClass in this way. So when I got to return to Glencairn I synced the iPods with new software and showed the pupils their new firstClass account. We are only using one account for all the ipods to share but the children could easily upload images (created with comic touch) and join in a discussion. The images and discussions can of course be accessed on a desktop or via the web. This makes it very easy to get text images and files onto and off the iPods. We could add movies to a file store in firstClass on the desktop and access it on the touches. We even quickly tested exporting a keynote presentation that some pupils were working on and uploading it, it worked a treat.

Click on the thumbnails to see bigger versions of desktop and iPod views.


I think FirstClass is going to be very useful for working with iPod touches in the classroom.

Parasync

This is the first of a few posts based on my morning today at Glencairn primary helping with their ipod touch project.

I started syncing and adding a few apps to the iPods. When I had originally set up the ipods with apps it took an age, syncing them two by two to my macbook and I was not looking forward to repeating the exercise. In the meantimne I’ve become a middle man between the Consolarium and a north Lanarkshire school to trial Taptale, this involves LTS lending the school sone ipod touches and a parasync. While we are waiting to get that project up and running I borrowed the parasync to update the Glencairn iPods. It took about 20 minutes to sync all of the iPods. The only glitch was the fact that I had turned of installing apps in the iPods restrictions. Once I had reset them all the update went flawlessly.

A parasync costs about £800 which is probably outside most school budgets in current times, but when weighed agains the time that it takes to sync 20 ipods two by two it is to my mind worth considering. It might be worth several schools owning one together using it for major updates and just recharging the ipods with 4-Port USB Chargers.

I was delighted to see that most of the children had personalised their ‘screensavers’ with drawings, photos and even lunes!

More about the apps I’ve added to the touches soon.

Recently I’ve been thinking about ipod touches quite a bit. As well as giving some support to the Glencairn ipod project and being the middle man for a wee Consolarium trial of TapTale which will start soon, I am just back from Oldham and Blackpool CLC’s iPodTouch Conference.

The conference was a great success and there is a lot of interesting chatter on the ning site and on Twitter #ipod2010

Last weekend I started playing with an idea for a wee web app. The idea is to provide an interface for searching flickr and creating images combining flickr photos and text. Using only photos that can be adapted and incorporating attribution.

shark_touch_poem

As a sort of proof of concept I made a web app that makes lunes. A Lune is a fixed-form variant haiku created for the English language. It has three words on the first line, five on the second and three on the third. I’ve used lune writing as a classroom activity on several occasions, they are simple and fun to write. (Lune (poetry) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The web app works like this:

Touch Poem Screens

  1. Pupils load the webpage int oSafari on their ipods and type in a search.
  2. The app retrieves and displays a list of creative commons photos that you are allowed to make derivations of.
  3. Pupils select a photo by clicking on it. This opens the photo with a 3 line form over it.
  4. Pupils type in poem and click Go.
  5. The image and text is sent to the server where it is stamped with the text and attribution and sent back to browser.
  6. Pupil presses on image, save dialog opens and image can be saved to photos.

I am using the phpFlickr to search and GD to stamp the photos

I tried the app out with the Glencairn primary six class on tuesday, we then bumped the photos to my phone, transferred them to a mac and added voice in iMovie: Animal Lunes, all in 90 minutes.

I though the app ran fairly smoothly except for quotes which came back escaped with a slash , some text ran off the pictures and the problem with not being able to fix spelling mistakes. I should be able to fix the escapes and hopefully alter the font size to suit the picture width.

Of course the whole thing was put together in an afternoon, the code is rough and the interface rougher. The plan might be to make it a bit more ajaxy and add a few different poem types, proper haiku, kennngs, Cinquains etc. I am wondering if it would be worthwhile developing? Is it too much of a one off to be really useful? I’d love to know what you think?

You can see the webpage in a quick and dirty Lunes Simulator or directly Flickr Lunes.

Bumping

I’ve just organised (in a loose sense) an iPod touch pilot at Glencairn Primary School. At the North Lanarkshire ICT & Technical Services Centre we have an an ICT Box Scheme – Hi-Tech Kit on Short Term Loan and had originally got 22 iPod touches as part of the scheme. Although schools regularly borrow the other kit on the page no one had asked for the touches, so we decide to do a slightly more formal pilot and asked for classes to volunteer. We wanted a primary class with ? 20 pupils so that the children could feel some sort of ownership for the devices. We had a few volunteers and drew Glencairn out of the hat. The pilot will run from now until Summer.

Last week I spent a couple of days trying to choose some apps, and ended up with 50 odd and a pile of podcasts. Here are the apps: 3D Brain, Angle, Art Envi, Basic Math, Brain Toot Lite, Brain Tuner, Brain Tutor, Bump, CM_, ColorTalk Free,Comic Touch Lite, CountriesLE, Dictionary, Documents, EU, EuropeanCapitals, EuroTalk, FlagsWorld, Flickr, FlingFree, FlipBook Lite, Fliq Notes, French LITE, Google Earth, HistoryMaps, Hubble, iBearFlagsEU, Icon Memos, iSpy, iTalk Lite, iThesaurus, Kaloki Free, Martian, MATHO, Maths, miTables Lite, Muscle Head and Neck, NASA, Newbie Lt, Pix Remix Lt, PopMath Lite, Quick Graph, SculptMaster D FREE, SimpleDraw, Skeleton Head and Neck, Sketch Pad, Sketchmania, Slideshow, Stars, TCT Lite, TimesTables Free, touchPhysics Lite, UpThere, Whiteboard & Wikipanion. I just copied the file names from the finder and remove the file extension and version numbers so the names may not be exactly the same as the app names.

The podcasts:

The ipods all sync onto one mac and the idea is that we will not add any more apps and the children will not be able to update the ipods, they will be able to transfer images to classroom computers. I was surprised that this allows you to buy apps and add them to all of the ipods.

On Friday I visited the school and handed over the touches to the pupils. I was surprised at how many of them had touches at home, over half a dozen out of 19. We went through some stuff to introduce the children to the the basics. I used a document camera to project one touch to the class smartboard and that seemed to work fine. After we let the pupils explore the ipods and play with a couple of games we introduced some apps. We typed a sentence into the notes app and figured out how to copy and paste. Next we checked out the Calculator and Dictionaries. Then we created Martians with the Make a Martian app and use Bump to share them between phones.

The classroom has an airport base station (one of the older grey ones) and I was please at how quickly the children could exchange images using bump over wifi. I hope this can become the basis for some collaborative work, groups collecting images or screenshots annotating them with Comic Touch Lite and bumping them. eventually they may be able to use some sort of slideshow app to put the images together.

The possibilities for using the touches seem endless and we explained to the children that they were more likely to see how to use the touches to help their learning as we were.

The hour and a bit I had in the class went by far to quickly and i feel a wee bit of jealousy for Ms Moonie.

We have started a blog Glencairn iPod for the class to report their adventures and assess the devices and I’ll have to go back in a couple of weeks to explain how that will work (that is my excuse anyway).

SconicPics is an iPhone/ipod touch application that allows you to create custom slideshow movies. The movies are made from still photos which you can add from the photo library or take with the iPhone’s camera. You can then narrate a voice over and create and enhanced m4v video with chapters.

In this example I’ve just used some pictures from classrooms I’ve been teaching in recently. It only took a few minutes to create and I am sure taking a little more time would have produced a more professional result and few plosives. I exported the 4v to reduce the size which removed the chapters too.

This looks like it could be a useful app in a classroom equipped with iphones or iPod touches. With touches pupils could use images downloaded from webpages or screenshots.