Educational Videos on the IPad

IPad, Apps, and Stylus

Educational Videos are Everywhere

I’m just going to do a short post today because I am working on a couple of longer posts for Thursday and Friday.

Over the last couple of weeks it seems that you can’t go too far while surfing around the internet without running into another announcement about a new site or Ipad app dedicated to educational videos. Seriously. It is no wonder that the concept of the “flipped classroom” is such a hot topic.

While the amount of video players available for the Ipad would make for an impressive–and lengthy–list, here is a list of 4 of the most prominent, or promising sources for watching educational videos on the Ipad. The 3 apps and 1 website listed here are all free.

  • Khan Academy The increasingly popular education video site recently debuted its app for the Ipad in Apple’s App Store.
  • Smithsonian Channel This app gives you access to streaming HD videos from the Smithsonian Channel. You can choose between featured videos or creating your own channel based around content areas that interest you. Some of the videos are short segments pulled from longer programs and some full-length videos of entire shows are featured.
  • TED Great videos of some of the world’s leading thinkers in just about every field.
  • Youtube for Schools Youtube has created an option for educators to use in the classroom that limits the content to educational videos while getting rid of the videos that gets Youtube blocked at many schools.

Personally, I like using videos in the classroom because they usually grab the students’ attention. I have used videos for everything from King Arthur, to author biographies, to full films (when covering some basic film study with a college credit class). As much as I have used them over the years, I have always thought that I could use them better, or in a smarter way. But, access has always been a problem. Some options require having a subscription to a service while others required just buying the video outright.

My hope now rests with the seemingly increasing number of free options making their way to the web or the app store. I should probably start investing some time into researching for specific videos that apply to my classes to use in the future. That will probably take some substantial time to do, but at least the future is looking is looking brighter for the options to choose from.

What educational video apps or services do you use in the classroom? How do you integrate videos into your classes? What do your students think about the use of video in the classroom?

As always feel free to leave comments, or questions. If you like this post or site, like it on Facebook, follow it on Twitter, subscribe, or share it with someone. The more, the merrier.

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A Great New IPad App for Students and Teachers

IPad with Khan Academy App

Khan Academy for the IPad

Sunday evening saw the release of the Khan Academy app for the Ipad. As soon as I ran across the announcement that it had been released on the App Store, I immediately installed it because I knew a lot of students and teachers would be interested in it. I wonder if it is a coincidence that the app’s release came on the same evening that Khan Academy was featured in a story on 60 Minutes? Probably not.

As a teacher I find the whole idea of Khan Academy very exciting. There is no doubt that it is a great resource for students and teachers. It is also understandable to see how Khan Academy has really set a fire under the concept of the “flipped” classroom. As an English and Journalism teacher, I am bummed out that there really isn’t anything there for “my” subjects. Maybe that will change in the future–I sure hope so. But despite the lack of videos for English or Journalism classrooms, the app will surely be a major resource for many students and teachers when it comes to Math and Science–with some Social Studies thrown in there as well.

As for the app itself, the biggest benefit are that the videos are downloadable so students can save them on the IPad and watch them whenever–even if they aren’t connected to the internet. Another plus is that Khan Academy probably isn’t blocked at most schools like Youtube. I tried out a couple of videos after I installed it and it worked really well. The videos loaded pretty quick even over my not-so-great broadband card. I also liked having a transcript of the video’s contents on the screen which would scroll along as the video played. The controls are pretty easy to figure out and anyone who has played a video on the IPad shouldn’t have a problem figuring it out. Below is the screen as I was watching a video about SOPA/PIPA. Please excuse the quality but I can’t take screenshots on my IPad at the moment because when our school set them up over the summer the one for me was given a profile that locked out the screenshot function–and now no one can figure out how to get rid of the profile because it is encrypted. At this point it looks like I would have to do a full wipe of the IPad to get rid of the pesky profile.

A shot of the Khan Academy app running

A shot of the Khan Academy app running running on an IPad2

So far the videos listed in the app’s main menu cover the following areas:

  • Math
  • Science
  • Humanities & Other
  • Test Prep
  • Talks and Interviews

Under these main categories you can choose video which cover the following:

  • Arithmetic and Pre-Algebra
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Probability
  • Statistics
  • Precalculus
  • Calculus
  • Differential Equations
  • Linear Algebra
  • Brain Teasers
  • Vi Hart
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Healthcare and Medicine
  • Cosmology and Astronomy
  • Computer Science
  • Physics
  • SAT Math
  • GMAT
  • CAHSEE
  • California Standards Test
  • Competition Math
  • IIT JEE
  • Singapore Math
  • History
  • American Civics
  • Art History
  • Finance

Under each of those there really are too many subcategories and videos to list here; but you get the idea.

One weird thing i noticed when looking through all the categories and subcategories is that when you get to the Art History section and begin looking through its various listed eras is that there aren’t any videos actually listed. I am not sure if this is a bug or something to come soon.

Overall I think this is going to be a great app for students and teachers which will only get stronger as they add to the number of available videos and functions for the app. If I was a Math or Science teacher I would probably add this to my list of favorite apps. If they do ever add some videos for English, Grammar, Literature, or Journalism, I may end up adding it then along with my list of apps I use in my classroom.

What are your impressions of Khan Academy? What do you think of the app? What are some subjects you wish they would add?

As always feel free to leave comments, or questions. If you like this post or site, like it on Facebook, follow it on Twitter, subscribe, or share it with someone. The more, the merrier.

Friday’s App: Stuck on Earth

IPad, Apps, and Stylus

IPad, Apps, and Stylus

A Coincidental Discovery

I like Fridays to be easy going and laid back. So, it is in that spirit that today’s post debuts. One subject that I have not written about yet is photography. This is a subject that plays an important aspect of my teaching life and my personal life. I have always been a bit of a camera nut, but once I became a yearbook adviser my interest in photography went into overdrive.

Over the years I have spent an obscene amount of time on the internet looking for tips and techniques to help me become a better photographer. I scour website after website and devour article after article in an ongoing pursuit to capture that one great image. So, I am always on the lookout for whatever may help me in that endeavor. And that is what this post is really about: a recent finding.

About a week ago I was reading a photography article that Zite collected for me. The article was some blog’s weekly roundup post and it mentioned the app Stuck on Earth from Trey Ratcliff. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place it and decided to install the app and try it out. Once the app was installed, I realized why Trey Ratcliff’s name sounded familiar.

A couple of years ago I was invited to chaperone the senior class trip to Disney World. In preparation for the trip I dug around on the internet looking for tips on photographing fireworks. One of the sites I ran across was Stuck in Customs…by Trey Ratcliff. Even you have never visited this site, you need to go there…NOW. I would honestly recommend this website for anyone. If you are a photographer, then you will find the tutorials–especially the ones about HDR–very helpful. If you just like to look at INCREDIBLE images, then you will enjoy the site as well. And who doesn’t enjoy looking at incredible photos? One word of warning for my fellow photography hobbyists out there: the website will make you feel totally inadequate.

About the App: Stuck on Earth

My curiosity about the app Stuck on Earth came from its description in that article as a tool for discovering places to photograph near the user’s location. That immediately appealed to my ongoing–and highly procrastinated–desire to “just go wondering around sometime and take tons of photos.” Once I installed the app and started playing around, it fed that desire to just wonder around taking photos like someone had thrown gas on a fire.

Stuck on Earth is a visually beautiful app–even before you begin looking at the photos. Hands down, t is one of the best looking apps I have on my iPad. The app gives you a map of the Earth which you can scroll and zoom around on to the destination of your choice. Map markers then populate the map with attached photos which you can browse through. For example, if I zoom the map in on Nashville, TN markers start popping up with photos. I can then look at all of the photos associated with a particular marker–let’s say: the Parthenon in Centennial Park. I can then browse through a collection of photos users have taken at the Parthenon and see what notes they have written on their photo. The app will also give me directions to a location if I want them.  I think that is pretty handy since I am fairly directionally challenged and usually don’t know how to get anywhere. I need a planned route when it comes to things like this.

All of the photos I have looked at for various locations are extremely good–it doesn’t look like just any old photo makes the cut to be in the app. Apparently the photos are chosen from a curated Flickr community with editors.  To me that just keeps the inspiration level high for the photos–and that is what I want. I want to be inspired. Plus having the photos and locations so readily available enables me to try and replicate the shot.

One aspect of the app that I have not explored much is the travel side. Users can create and save trips for destinations which are shareable with other users.  There is also a travel guide voiced by a professional actress. I usually have the sound turned off on my iPad so I really can’t say much about what the travel guide does.

Although I got the app for personal use, I do see how it could be used by students. If a student was doing some type of project where they were learning about some local location, this app could be very useful. It can give them photos to look at so that they know what to look for and it can give them directions.

If you are a photographer looking for inspiration, a traveler looking for a destination, or just someone who likes to look at great images, then Stuck on Earth is a must-have app.

What apps do you use for photography? Feel free to comment with any ideas or suggestions; I am always happy to get feedback.

13 Apps I Use as a Teacher

iPad 3G and iPad Wi-Fi

Image by Yutaka Tsutano via Flickr

Just the other day I posted a list of the iPad Apps I use in a personal capacity; so, I thought I would make a list of the apps I regularly use as a teacher. These are in no particular order.

My Favorite Teacher Apps

  1. Goodreader: This is just an awesome app for reading and annotating PDF files. I can give feedback on student essays, mark up pages from the textbook, present documents with the projector and write on them. I use this every day for something. This has been a big part of my attempt to go paperless in my classroom.
  2. Feeddler Pro: I use this RSS feed aggregator to easily track all of my students’ blogs for my classes. I group them by period and can tell by looking at the list for each period who has posted their assignment. I can then drill down from the app and go to their blog if I need to.
  3. Calculator Pro: I like having a big honkin’ calculator right there whenever I need it. This one is pretty handy. I got the pro version just so I wouldn’t have to look at ads.
  4. Dropbox: This is another app I use everyday. It makes moving files from my laptop to the iPad so easy. Not having this app would seriously diminish what I do everyday. I always have to move something.
  5. Pages: At first I was a little skeptical about a word processor on the iPad, but I find myself using this more and more.
  6. Keynote: I just like the simplicity of this Powerpoint alternative.
  7. Splashtop Whiteboard: I have an interactive whiteboard in my room. So, I hook up the laptop to the board and projector-run the little Splashtop piece of software on the laptop-fire up this app on the iPad and–Boom–I can write or type on the board from anywhere in the room. Plus, I can control my laptop from anywhere in the room.  Definitely one of my favorite apps.
  8. Kindle: I use this for just about all of the additional readings like novels that I assign.
  9. Instapaper: I use this to save articles I find on the web I think about using for class.
  10. PDF Printer: I got this out of necessity. As I mentioned above, I use Goodreader to provide feedback on essays. Well, at the start of the year I found myself in need of this app to convert their submitted files into a PDF just so I could get them into Goodreader and use all of its tools to write on their submissions.
  11. iPad Mail: It may seem a bit silly to include this on the list, but I like being able to see all the folders for my school account and the gmail account I set up for collecting homework at the same time. It also makes it very easy to move things into different folders, or even to the other account.
  12. Safari: I like the built-in browser Apple has on the iPad. So far I haven’t felt the need to use another browser app.
  13. Notes Plus: I am constantly jotting down things and this app fills the bill. I can sort things into different notebooks and I really like the handwriting ability.

Well, there it is: my list of favorite apps as a teacher.  There are some others I use, and I am always trying out new ones, but these are the ones I use regularly, if not daily.

Let me know which apps you like to use. I am always looking for the next great app.

Favorite iPad Apps

My iPhone apps as of February 2010

Image by dougbelshaw via Flickr

Since I got my iPad2 back in May I have used it more than I ever thought I possibly would. I thought I would list some of the apps I frequently use, or at least like a great deal. I hope to do more of these lists, so I will start with a list of apps that I use in a personal capacity.

My Favorite iPad Apps

  1. Zite  I recently got this app and I use it everyday to read about things that interest me.  What I really, really like about it is that it provides a great deal of customization in terms of the articles it gathers. I also like that I can tell it which articles I like and Zite will list more articles similar to that one.
  2. Flipboard  This was the first personal magazine app that I got. I still use it regularly–especially for the Facebook and Twitter integration.
  3. Smugmug  I got this app just so I can look at the photos in my Smugmug account on the iPad. Why?  Because they look AMAZING on the iPad–a lot more amazing than they actually are. We all need something to make us feel better about ourselves.
  4. iTunes Movie Trailers  As a bit of a movie junkie, I find that being able to easily and quickly view trailers for upcoming movies is almost a necessity. Yeah, I admit I will probably wait for them to come out on DVD or Bluray before I watch them, but just because I find the current ticket prices at theaters just stupid.
  5. Kindle  Helloooo–I’m an English teacher. This is almost a job requirement. I confess that I never really saw myself as becoming an ebook reader–but boy I am now thanks in large part to this app. I now understand why brick-and-mortar bookstores are going away.
  6. Notes Plus  This is my current favorite note taking app.  Check back with me later–this one changes fairly frequently.
  7. EW Magazine/EW’s Must List  I am going to count these as 1 since they both come from the same place.  At first I just had the must list, but when I found out that I can get copies of the magazine on the iPad because I have a subscription I got that app too. I must say they iPad version of an issue looks better than the printed version.
  8. Reeder  Pretty handy for keeping up with some of the blogs I follow.
  9. Ask Mr. Robot  Geeky confession time I guess. This handy-dandy little app lets me keep my World of Warcraft characters optimized for maximum killing efficiency.  I also confess that I don’t use this as much as I did at one time since I don’t play WoW that much recently.
  10. Instapaper  For reasons I don’t fully understand, I find that I sometimes like to read articles from web pages when I am offline.

Well, there it is: my list of apps I use a lot for entertainment or when I am winding down/killing time.  I hope to do a list of apps that I use in my classroom pretty soon. Stay tuned.

Also: Because I am always on the lookout for the latest and greatest App, what are your favorite apps?