All about The iPad

The iPad is a mobile tablet device designed, developed and marketed by Apple Inc.

iPad advert

http://www.apple.com/ipad/ 25/11/2011

Like other tablet computers the iPad is a touch screen controlled device that displays within a single panel. It allows the user to interact through touch screen gestures like: taps, pinches, swipes, rotates, drags and flicks. The iPad also has onboard devices for interaction including:

  • Accelerometer – A device that allows the iPad to determine and switch orientation between portrait and landscape modes.
  • Gyroscope – This is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation.
  • A-GPS – A system which uses relative proximity to nearby mobile phone towers to improve the performance of the GPS satellite-based positioning system.
  • Onscreen Keyboard – This is a mechanism that allows users to input textual information into the iPad.
  • Camera (iPad 2 only) – has two cameras one front-facing and one rear- both capable of capturing still images and video.
  • Microphone – This can be used for audio recording or sound level measurement.

The iPad is a platform that supports audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games and web content.

The iPad also allows users to download mobile applications, these are pieces of software designed and developed to run on the iPad, often called apps. There are currently over 140,000 applications available for the iPad, featuring a broad range of content.

app store advert

http://www.apple.com/ipad/from-the-app-store/ 25/11/2011

The iPad is the most popular tablet computer in the world today, with a 68% share of the world market, so applications designed specifically for the iPad could potentially be accessed by a larger audience than an applications designed for another specific tablet computer.

pie chart showing Apple's share of the tablet computer market

http://www.slideshare.net/yudu/apple-ipad-trends-statistics-3-november-2011

The iPad 2 is Apple’s second-generation iPad, It is thinner, lighter and faster than the original and it features two cameras for video calling over Wi-Fi.

See the iPad 2 below:

iPad specs

http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/ 25/11/2011

List of Sources

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/iPad

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tablet+computer

http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=tablet+computer&i=52520,00.asp

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2011/04/04/29-statistics-reveal-how-the-apples-ipad-is-changing-our-lives/

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The iSchool Initiative

Here is an interesting take on how digital mobile devices in this case the iTouch could be used within education.

This is the mission statement of the iSchool Initiative taken from their website: http://ischoolinitiative.org/

The iSchool Initiative is the conceptual brain child of Travis Allen, he formed the notion of the iSchool Initiative in 2009, after he was stopped whilst attempting to use an iPhone in class as la earning tool.  Allen felt frustrated with these limitations, so he formed a concept based upon mobile learning and established the iSchool Initiative.  With the help of the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) organisation Allen expanded his idea into a fully functioning, non-profit, student-led organisation that is dedicated to revolutionizing our education system through innovative technology.  Their mission is:

“to inspire and educate students on how to become life-long digital learners in the information age. We accomplish this by raising awareness for the technological needs of the classroom, providing collaborative research on the use of technology in the classroom, and guiding schools in the implementation of this technology.” http://blog.ischoolinitiative.com/

I like this idea and Travis Allen deserves credit for the way in which he is attempting to draw attention to the feelings and requirements of today’s generation of digital orientated learners.  I do have one slight concern though, with the name “The iSchool Initiative” and the constant references to products made by that particular company with a fruity name and logo, the initiative is could be accused of pandering to or been too closely affiliated with that one particular development company.

There is a worldwide business battle going on between the different mobile technology development companies, and I believe educational initiatives should not be seen to be favouring one or the other, there are many digital device platforms that could be used by education to facilitate a more effective learning experience for today’s generation, so the message should really be please can we try and incorporate educationally effective technologies regardless of platform into our education system.  To see more about the iSchool Initiative, see the links bellow:

http://ischoolinitiative.org/about-us/history.html

http://blog.ischoolinitiative.com/

Week 5, Year 2 Symposium & Theory In Practice (part 1)

Today I attended the year 2 symposium at the Hull School of Art & Design.  This was a fascinating insight into how fellow students of differing practices are and have been approaching their MA projects.  There seems to be no projects in either the 2nd year group or my own year that are closely comparable to my project and that slightly concerns me, although it is not really a new experience for me.  Throughout my BA Interactive Multimedia course I was the only student studying my particular discipline within the Hull School of Art and Design’s new media group, although other courses were similar in aspects, I had to establish my own viewpoint and approach that differed to the students around me, but I could still draw on their opinions from their disassociated vantage points.  Having my practice critiqued by people with a different perspective became a valuable asset to my practice and I can draw upon the perspectives of my peers from within my new environment.

We also had a lecture on embedding theory into practice this week which will also run into next week’s session, so I will elaborate more this subject after the conclusion of that session.

Asynchronous E-Learning and M-Learning

So what is asynchronous e-learning? Chief knowledge officer for Allen Interactions, Ethan Edwards wrote an article in which he describes it as:

“asynchronous e-learning occurs in an environment where a single learner interacts directly with content via a technology system, maximizing flexibility in timing and access for the learner by allowing learner control of pace, schedule, and location”. Edwards (2009)

The eLearning Guild describes itself as “the oldest and most trusted source of information, networking, and community for eLearning Professionals”.  It is a member-driven organisation that produces and presents media related to e-learning, they define asynchronous e-learning as:

“asynchronous e-Learning refers to “on-demand” learning materials that the learner can access and use whenever and wherever he or she wants.”

Learning accessed anytime, anywhere on a desktop computer, this is partially true and on a laptop this is even more of a possibility but with mobile tablets and phones the potential of asynchronous e-learning can truly be realised.  These devices are designed to be carried around so that users can access information and media at a time and in a place that it suitable to them.

Mobile learning, often referred to as m-learning is a topic that I have discussed in a previous blog (see here: https://phillipshakesbymasters.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/67/) and a in May 2010 article, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative provides a description of mobile learning that is strikingly similar to the eLearning Guild’s definition of asynchronous e-Learning, they say “Mobile learning, or m-learning, can be any educational inter­action delivered through mobile technology and accessed at a stu­dent’s convenience from any location.”

Mobile applications, also known as mobile apps, are pieces of software designed to run on smart-phones and mobile phones, they can be designed for a wide range of purposes including education, entertainment and shopping, they often use the technology available within the mobile device to aid or enhance the user’s daily lives.

The mobile application market has evolved at a staggering rate, in December 2010 the International Data Corporation (IDC), a global provider of market intelligence said that 300,000 mobile apps had been developed in just over three years and in 2010 these 300,000+ applications were downloaded 10.9 billion times.  The numbers are truly staggering and as soon as this year’s statistics are released I will post them for comparison but it is seemingly obvious that people are using apps, this is a direction I am that leaning towards for my project.  It would allow me to apply teaching theory to a platform or medium that offers a wide range of possibilities in terms of interaction and content, whilst also being at the forefront of the current technological evolution.

To make my project a success I still believe that my research into teaching theory and E-learning design and principles will help me to gain an understanding of user/learner needs and thus this will help me to produce a more effective product.

If I choose to create a mobile application for my project the asynchronous e-learning model seems to be appropriate for the product platform but there are certain keys to achieving success according to Ethan Edwards (2009), he believes that traditional instructional design principles are required in combination with a consideration for the unique requirements of computer-delivered instructions and interaction.  He believes that there are three essential factors when designing asynchronous e-learning:

1.       Motivate the learner to learn,
2.       Focus on behavioural outcomes,
3.       Create meaningful and memorable experiences.

Motivate the learner to learn

Edwards (2009) believes that learners need to be motivated, energized and engaged in the learning experience and that traditionally this element of learning is provided by the “wit and personality of the instructor, social contact and expectations from peers, and real time adjustments by students and instructors to the immediacy of the teaching moment”.

In the book Learning in the Digital Age by John Seeley Brown the author recognises the social interaction element of the learning process, he says “learning is a remarkably social process. In truth, it occurs not as a response to teaching, but rather as a result of a social framework that fosters learning.” Brown (2002)

In an asynchronous e-learning model this social or personal interaction would be absent, so it is the responsibility of the designer to try and design experiences in which engagement in interaction can generate emotional responses that motivate or capture the interest of the learner in educational experiences.

Edwards (2009) goes on to say:“Any e-learning that fails to account for these elements will fail to connect authentically with the learner, and ultimately fail as a teaching tool, no matter how perfectly the content is crafted.”

Focus on behavioural outcomes.

The communication of information traditionally involves two way communications between the educational facilitator/teacher and the learner/student, and the quality of that educational experience often depends upon the effectiveness of that communication.  Replicating this social and instructional interaction is a problem for designers, Edwards (2009) says “designers of e-learning are at a severe disadvantage to create meaningful interactions simply because the methods for gaining information from the learner are so limited.”  The appropriation of user feedback is always going to be a an issue for designers, Edwards (2009) suggests that “Designers must work dedicatedly to overcome these limits by designing challenges in which the learner’s actions require active processing and represent real-world actions.”  This notion of learning through doing is featured in different learning theories, Pete Senge the founding chairperson of the Society for Organizational Learning and a senior lecturer at MIT said “The most powerful learning comes from direct experienceSenge (1990, p.23).  Experiential learning is learning through the undertaking or reflection upon undertaking a task.

Create meaningful and memorable experiences.

Designers should be aiming to deliver more than just information and visuals they should be designing an experience in which learners can acquire information Edwards (2009) says “Learners need assistance in attaching meaning and significance to new content.”  He believes that the learning experience is often more important to the effectiveness of educational delivery than the content that is being delivered, “ When asked about successful learning experiences, almost all people acknowledge that those learning events were a success more because of how the learning occurred rather than specifically what was learned.”  Brown (2002) also draws attention to the need to think about more than just the content you wish to convey he says “To succeed in our struggle to build technology and new media to support learning, we must move far beyond the traditional view of teaching as delivery of information. Although information is a critical part of learning, it’s only one among many forces at work”.  He recognises the need for  information and context in the delivery of learning  experiences “It’s profoundly misleading and ineffective to separate information, theories, and principles from the activities and situations within which they are used.”

When designing experiences, consistent design is important for a number of design reasons which I will elaborate upon at a later date but that should not mean that it should affect the learning experience.   Edwards (2009) say’s “When everything looks the same, it is hard to remember any specific detail.” but this does not mean make everything look different, it means that the designer needs to take into consideration how they intend to allow the user to make a distinction between different elements of the information that they are presenting them with, so that the user will be effected in the required way.  Edwards (2009) view is “While it is important to create standards and processes to make the development of e-learning efficient, the design still needs to create distinctiveness and purpose so that the learner has some hope of taking a long-lasting experience away from the training.”

Asynchronous e-learning is often characterised as boring, simplistic and ineffective due to the lack of social interactions.  The lack of interaction with instructors and peers may be a deficiency of Asynchronous e-learning but there are benefits too, benefits that increase when you start to bring mobile devices into the equation.  Asynchronous m-learning truly provides the learner with new freedoms , the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative  article from may 2010 draws attention to one of the benefits of m-learning “Because m-learning utilizes a variety of devices, many of which are ubiquitous in the lives of students, it can foster student engagement and offer opportunities to make learn­ing integral to daily life.”  They also point out that potentially, anytime, anyplace technology may lower physical boundaries to learning and extend the classroom.  So we know that there are possible deficiencies and benefits to asynchronous m-learning but through carefully considered design and well-organised research the potential of asynchronous m-learning is exciting.  It will require new methods of practice, an appropriation of new ideas and a bricolage of existing theories brought together to form a robust methodology appropriate to this new practice.

Edwards (2009) recognises that the design process for asynchronous e-learning needs to be different to the processes of traditional instruction, he says: “Because there is no instructor present in the learning moment, the design process for asynchronous e-learning must include specific plans for engaging the learner in targeted learning actions in a way that designers of traditional instruction have not had to use.”

A new process of instructional design, or possibly more appropriately design for instruction needs to be formed, a new methodology that meets the demands of a new generation of learners through the use of new technologies; technologies that offer us new possibilities for learning experiences. Designers are not trained instructors, so they will need to gain an understanding of how education is delivered, either by theoretical research or by incorporating the knowledge of real world educators through symposium into their design process.  The designer must then take the educational information and convert it into digital interactions using their own specialist knowledge pertaining to their own subject, and try and create a user centred design appropriate for instruction.

Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline, United Kingdon:Random House Business Books.

Edwards, E. (2009) Designing Asynchronous E-Learning, T+D; Vol.63, Issue 2, p84-85 Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 5th November 2011

Brown, J. S. (2002) Learning in the Digital Age [online] Available at: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/FFPIU015.pdf (accessed 6th November 2011).

The eLearning Guild (04/07/2010) Getting Started in e-Learning: Asynchronous e-Learning [online] Available at: http://www.elearningguild.com/research/archives/index.cfm?id=140&action=viewonly (accessed 5th November 2011 15:24).

IDC Press Release (Dec 2010) IDC Forecasts Worldwide Mobile Applications Revenues to Experience More Than 60% Compound Annual Growth Through 2014 [online] Available at: http://www.idc.com/about/viewpressrelease.jsp?containerId=prUS22617910&sectionId=null&elementId=null&pageType=SYNOPSIS (accessed 6th November 2011 13.33).

Educause (May 2010) 7 Things you Should Know About Mobile Apps for Learning [online] Available at:  http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7060.pdf (accessed 6th November 2011)

Methodologies

This week’s session was about methodologies, so what are methodologies?  The Collins English dictionary defines a methodology as “the system of methods and principles used in a particular discipline” (Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged ©, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003).  So what are methods?  “Methods are the specific techniques and tools for exploring, gathering and analyzing information” Gray & Malins (2004, p.17). Therefore, I suppose the session was about how we organise our approach to gathering the information we require for our projects.

The way in which we structure our research is very important, as creative individuals practicing differing disciplines our methodologies will all be different, but we have been pointed in the direction of some good resources and we have been provided with some useful snippets from books to get us to consider our own approach to research.  “Methodology in its scientific sense implies a common or shared research approach that is transferable” Gray & Malins (2004, p.18) but for us as creative practitioners we have the freedom to try different approaches and combinations of methods to meet our needs.  In the book ‘Visualizing Research: A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design’ the authors explain the importance of knowing how to research, they say:

“If research is a process. Then learning about research is about learning how to research. We could almost say that the process is more important than the product – the journey is more interesting than the destination” Gray & Malins (2004, p.17).

The knowledge of how to acquire more knowledge critically and analytically is more important than the knowledge we may learn, as we can re-use our methodology for future practice as we continue to move forward as practitioners, learning and evolving.  My methodology will hopefully be defined by the fruits of its labour but at that point I can reflect and evaluate my methods in order to enhance my methodology for future endeavours.

The methodology that I have used so far through my journey is based upon my design background in which I follow a design process, this process involves me identifying a product for development , I then look at the possibilities for this product; What is it? What will it do? What could it do? Who will want to use it? How will they want to use it? How does it compare to existing products? These are just a few of the questions that I try to identify at the start of my design process.  These questions then require me to look for answers in books, online etc. and sometimes they just lead to more questions which may lead to more research.

Identifying questions is how I start and then I look for answers, problems and solutions.  The main problem at the moment is that I have so many questions and I am becoming impatient in wanting answers because I have the desire to move on to further questions, but patience is a virtue and by taking my time to find information, analyse and reflect upon it, I hope to reach robust conclusions that will be characterised in my practice.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Gray C. & Malins J. (2004) Visualizing Research: A Guide To The Research Process In Art And Design, England:Ashgate Publishing Limited

Competitive Analysis

BBC Primary History Vikings

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vikings/

Platform – Website

 Visual style – Illustrated cartoon style

 Target Audience – Primary school children are the target for this website as it is part of the BBC’s Primary History range.

Features -Teacher resources including:

Printable activities,

Videos,

imagery.

Interactive TimeLine – Although the timeline is interactive, the level of interactivity is quite basic which is appropriate for the younger target audience.

Activities – This site features two interactive games and a quiz. Thorkel and the trading voyage allows users to learn a little bit about Viking life through role play as Thorkel, during the game Thorkel  meets different people in his village, interacting with them, this gives the user a brief introduction to Viking village life. Dig it up on the other hand looks at how we find evidence of Viking life in today’s world through archaeology, Dr Amy Tan guides users on an archaeological dig to find Viking artefacts. The quiz asks users 3 questions to see if they are remembering what they have learnt from other parts of the site.

Video Content – The video content is quite short but very informative it provides visual and contextual reference for some of the information that the site is trying to deliver.

Overall Summary – This is a very good, well organised resource with varying content and levels of interactivity, It would be hard to find fault with this so instead I will just say Bravo well done BBC. *****

 

History for kids

http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/medieval/history/earlymiddle/vikings.htmPlatform

Platform – Website

Visual style – Text based

Target Audience – Children

Features – Links to relevant books

Overall Summary – This site is awful it has a style that is inappropriate for its audience and is generally lacking in content.

 

History World

http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab86

Platform – Website

Visual style – Text based

Target Audience – All ages

Features – Interactive Timeline – This is more like a date ordered search than an interactive timeline.

Quiz – This is a general quiz for the whole site, not relevant to the Vikings section.

Overall Summary – Historyworld’s aim is to make world history more easily accessible through interactive narratives and timelines. It is the brain child of university challenge’s former presenter Bamber Gascoigne, although the information provided is very good, it lacks interactivity, design flair and visual stimulation.

The Vikings

http://home.freeuk.net/elloughton13/vcontent.htm

Platform – Website

Visual style – Text & image based

Target Audience – 7-8 year old children.

Features – Not a lot

Overall Summary – This site is trying to be child friendly but it is rather evident that whoever created it has no web design skills, it has poor imagery, the information is not organised very well and it does not display properly.

(There is also a link to a game that actually links to a swim wear shop.)

The Viking Museum

http://www.thevikingmuseum.com/vikingwarrior.html

Platform – Website

Visual style – Text based

Target Audience – Not sure

Features – Time line & Links to books

Overall Summary – Lots of info but the site again is badly designed; too much text, bad typography and a lack of visuals.

I also looked at further Viking resources including:

http://www.medievalsources.co.uk/portal_vikings.htm

http://www.innovationslearning.co.uk/subjects/history/information/vikings/vikings_home.htm

http://www.britishmuseum.org/learning/schools_and_teachers/resources/all_resources-1/resource_vikings.aspx

http://www.vikingsonline.org.uk/resources/education.htm

None of these were particularly good in my opinion; the stand out resource seems to be the BBC’s primary history website. I am very surprised that I have been unable to find any mobile learning application on Viking history; this could be a possible void in the market for me to exploit.