Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Learning activities on tablets

Due to snow event a couple of weeks ago, our interactive text book project has been delayed a week in officially starting up. However, we are now back on track and things are starting to move along.

Some ideas for learning activities of a ‘ice-breaker’ kind will be used to orientate students to using the tablets. The icebreaker activities will allow students to play with the tablets, use the camera, save some photos and make use of some simple maths / flashcard type apps.

Both Peter (automotive tutor) and Katrina (barista tutor) have set out ‘learning activity’ type information sheets to guide the students through the more official part of the project. These learning activities, make use of tablets to basically bring together, students’ recording of their learning journey.

Selected by Katrina for students to compile content on latte labs are photoshop express (PS express) to edit photos, Pixitag lite to add captions/speech bubbles etc. to photos, imovie to edit video and neu-annotate to edit worksheets provided by tutor. Also apps pertinent to barista including latte art, aroma coffee and coffee café, the last two are games to get students up and running with using the ipad.

Peter will be basing his work mostly around using the Toshiba Thrive camera/video and the presentation tool (show). He will also use picsay to add captions/speech bubbles and highlight sections of photos. We are also testing a few apps as video editors.

Another way to get content in the form of videos and documents off the web, is to use TagDiskHD on the ipad. This app has a feature for downloading and saving youtube and other social media site videos for offline viewing. The equivalent for the Android is youtube downloader.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Learning from tablet PC projects

Following from Daphne Robson and Dave Kennedy’s work with the older style tablet laptops, and presentation at last week's CPIT research week,  I did another trawl through the net to find updated information on using tablets in education.  First port of call was the Australian Tablets in Education conference sites for 2009 and 2010, I did another search  the net to find updated information on using tablets in education.  A few presentations in the 2010 conference featuring ipads, most conveying a try out and see approach. Overall conclusions seem to be useful but with limitations.

Then came across the Workshops on impact of pen-based technology on education. Conference proceedings are on Google books for 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Also came across this site with case studies of using tablet PCs in education. All of these provide background material for the use of the current tablets in various educational contexts. Will work my way through them over the next few weeks to uncover important guidelines we can adapt, evaluate/confirm or modify for our own project.

Cpit output last day presentations

There were no presentations on Wednesday and caught up with other meetings etc. yesterday morning when there were presentations from social work, broadcasting, business, computing and engineering schools.

First up Dr. John Schischka, on using the capability approach and  children - a development programme in low income area schools in NZ.
Capability approach involves participants so that they are engaged with identifying their core capabilities and able to forms plans to move forward and become what they want to be. 30 11 and 12 year children in a pilot study started in 2009 are followed through to high school and beyond, to find out if the capability approach does work. Children provided with a range of mentoring programmes, future work experience visits, camps and visits with sports and entertainment personalities. findings from childrens' caregivers' and teachers' perspectives support the  positive outcomes. Morrison and Allan (2007) on student resilience in school context. - need to send paper - voc imagination john

Next, Julia Wu presented on 'using case studies in accounting ed.' Re-examined the efficacy of using case studies in accounting ed. to  prepare for future studies in adult ed. Many pitfalls, balanced against extensive desirable outcomes but selection of case study, matched to what needs to be learnt, most important for instance following teachers' perspectives as controller (illustrative), facilitator (integrative) or partner (developmental (Healey and Mcutcheon, 2010).

Then Mary Kensington on 'students' experiences of a blended learning/satellite model curriculum' from the context of midwifery ed. Explored themes of isolation, development of communities of learners, barriers to  learning (perhaps need to individualise content?), managing life and study commitments and bridging the theory-practice divide. Outcome of a continuing action research project to try to understand how to improve learning for students on the Batchelor of Midwifery programme. Main purpose to identify barriers and challenges and find out if the blended approach did actually promote integration of learning to  practice.

Kirstin Dofs presented on an update of her Masters work on 'automous language learning initiatives'. An on-going project leading to development of guidebooks for students to use in the LSAC. Presentation focused  on development of the study guide/guidebooks (student/teacher and at 3 levels for  learning English as a second other language) through action research cycles.  Included professional development sessions for teachers to help them  get the most out  of the evolving guidebook.

From School of Nursing, Dr. Paul Watson presented on work he has been doing on 'paediatric early warning score'. A tool designed to help identify children in need of higher levels of care. A joint project between CPIT and the Child Health Service at Christchurch Hospital. Current paediatric tools used have not  proved to be greatly reliable or valid. findings indicate need to individualise tool to make it most effective.

Dr. Barbara Dolamore, presented on NTproBNP and cardiac heart failure. A project just commenced on finding a marker to indicate heart failure. NTproBNP is a subset of a hormone released by the heart and stays in the blood longer than the hormone itself. Project to compare how NTproBNP degrades in patients with heart failure and in  healthy people.

Missed James Hayes and caught the end of Dr. John Clarke's presentations due to a meeting to get to. John showed photographs of   mites found in sun-antartica islands, the most prevalent terrestrial animal in the antartic region. An interesting peek into the world of taxonomy.

Back in for Dr. David Hawke's and Dr. John Clarke's presentation on 'tracking nutrient flow through invertebrates at the marine-terrestrial interface using stable isotopes. Investigates boundaries between ecological zones. 3 studies presented on how birds help bring nutrients back from the sea into breeding areas. Identified, through analysis of carbon content of various  mites/beetles etc.  and petrel burrow soils, the method mites used to obtain the carbon. For example a mite may eat another who lives on petrel guano! and this shows up on measurements.

Last up, Dr. Margaret Leonard on  a collaborative project undertaken just before she took up position at CPIT as research manager. Margaret presented on 'the  dark side of virus removal by waste stabilisation ponds'. Project works out how remove viruses in the absence of light. Found mechanisms that work in  the dark, are effective in removing viruses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cpit output 2011 - day 2

Due to meeting commitments, unable to get to the morning sessions, which were mainly from the School of Design and Broadcasting. There was also a book launch from a project involving students who had come to NZ as refugees. The book published their stories.

Attended the afternoon sessions as I was scheduled to present in the last session. So, first up, Daphne Robson and Dave Kennedy ' enhanced peer instruction on tablet pcs (another presentaion on setup)". A good interactive session, using the tablet PCs to provide examples of how they use tablets to help students learn maths. Students learn in pairs, so improved peer learning occurred as a consequence of the need to share the tablets! Advantages as from student feedback included viewing, discussing and receiving feedback about answers, easier or faster to learn or suited learning style, more interactive (info from poster presentation), fun, interesting and enjoyable.

Next up, Diane McCarthy on 'getting into actor network theory research' provided an overview of the  concepts of actor network (Latour) theory and it's application  to educational research. Actants like technology allow actors (humans) to interact, communicate, solve problems etc. often through 'networks'. All of these are fluid and are not bounded by distance, size, hierarchy etc. and cannot really be studied separately.

Amitrajit Sarkar presented on relationship between text action conceptions of programming: A phenomenographic and quantitative perspective - with researchers also from Finland, Turkey and Auckland. Discussed whether students have to understand syntax and compilers before they can write procedures. Need to try to understand how students learn how to programme as high attrition and non-completion rate with computing students. Learning about a hierarchy in how students learn programme may assist. Phenomenology can be a qualitative way to understand how people learn - focusing on phenomenon of relationship between actor and object. Student approaches indicate understandings as based on  text, action or models. however, the study has found there is perhaps not a hierarchy, so students do not necessarily have to learn syntax before understanding action and models.

My presentation on the final findings of the first year apprentices project was well recieved with good feedback on relevant conferences to disseminate the information. Important for the findings to go out to employer groups, industry forums, ITO conferences and trade journals, rather than as scholarly writing in research journals. Something to work on : )

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cpit OUTPUT - research week presentations - day 1

CPIT's  annual research week convenes from 22nd to 26th August. I am unable to attend all sessions due to other meetings and commitments but have diaried all the sessions I am able to get to.

The morning began with several sessions mainly from the School of Nursing I would have liked to be at several sessions presenting on their learnings with regards to dealing with earthquake impacts.

However, did manage to attend the lunch time session showcasing  student research through short 3 minute kucha type presentations. Students were from the School of Broadcasting and the School of Business. All provided impressive presentations and interesting topics.

Zoe introduced the local student radio station C96 that caters to children as there is a large gap in the local market. Especially important for Canterbury as everyone deals with the challenges involved with recovering from the Canterbury earthquakes.

Rowan presented on Why is Trade Aid important? online survey of enews subscribers, interviews with  managers and volunteers. Study showed ethical food purchasers are interested in taste, quality and brand. Stories - used presently to market trade aid products - may not be effective, due to competition in the market.

Will focused on American and NZ lack of local content for sports broadcasting. One limitation has been copyright for important events by large broadcasters, leading to small local stations not being able to provide local commentary.

Shani did a study about developing new stories and the importance to keep redevelopment of these stories. Found many strategies useful to keep stories 'alive', pertinent and engaging to readers.

Eugeny Karchevskiy presented on a brand benchmarking project involving Canterbury Coast Sport Trust - promoting sport with in the Canterbury community. Currently the overall brand is challenged due to there being 4 offshoots of the brand along with many offshoots.

Jacob Bateman reported on project to improve lost and found property, pay sheet processing of accident reporting. developed a template (using interviews and time study metrics) that may be useful for assisting the process of improving organisational practice.

Also presenting with the short format were two staff , Jo and Gareth from Recreation.

Jo Straker spoke on an aspect of her PhD, on unearthing the outdoors in outdoor education. Based on interviews with outdoor educators. often difficult to articulate what is learnt during outdoor education. Where you learn,influences what you learn and there is a need to encourage all people to learn from living.

Gareth Wheeler used an audio visual - powerpoint and music with a handout for his presentation on 'living the dream' in the NZ sea kayaking industry. Interviewed students on why they wanted to get in and what happens after the graduate. Many do not continue in the industry due to the it 'being a young person's game'.  
3 Prizes were provided for best student presentations.

This evening, the event is officially launched by our CEO along with a 'keynote' on 'The science and art of chocolate'. Lots more presentations over the next few days to look forward to.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

ITF conference presentations now up

Doing a big catch up over the last two days as CPIT was closed due to snow on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  The two days at home provided good opportunities to catch up on accumulated research journal readings and to make a start on drafting some journal articles. Have drafted abstracts for 10!! covering the learning undertaken across my PhD and the various projects undertaken over the last two years. Should keep me busy working on these for the next five years at the rate of two articles a year J

The snow also provided an opportunity to catch up with the presentations from the ITF conference in July. I did not attend but there is always at least one presentation that is pertinent to my work from this conference. Of interest this year is the presentation from William Symonds, who provided an American perspective and Josh Williams on pathways and partnerships: development of vocational pathways for NZ students.
I also managed to catch up on a book edited by Jane Bryson – Beyond Skill: Institutions, organisations and human capacities as a top- up on her presentation at the ITF research forum in April. The book provides more details on Janes’ presentation centering on the need to look beyond skills and to build capability that is generalizable and that meets the aspirations of both individuals, the organisations they work for and society at large. All very BIG picture stuff but important for informing policy on how to best support individuals’ lifelong learning directions and goals.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Setting up ipad2s for project - multiple ipads on one itunes account

Hardware for our interactive textbook project have started to arrive.  We are now organising the set up of 5 ipad2s.  Essentially, the ipad is an individual user device. Someone out there must be working on a project to find out how the selection of apps on ipad reflect your personality type, as per a book I read recently, that attributed personality types to people by examining the songs they had uploaded onto their ipod or similar (Snoop- what  your stuff says about you).
Some good hints avaialble by googling set up ipads education use from ipadschools wiki including the use of an ipad cart and apple's volume app purchase programme. Also good information on the wiki to setting up ipads for class and link to a workshop that provides information on how to lock appstore on the ipad so that students are not able to access the appstore to download apps or other items. Core-ed blog indicates the apple volume app store is not available in New Zealand (sigh).
Instructions on how to set up more than one device on on individual itunes account provided through apple support site and a youtube video. Therefore, will need to set up one itunes account on our the solitary Mac in our sandpit as our internal IT system only allows access to itunes 7.0!! and sync all the five ipads to the same account.  Apps we will put on the ipad discussed in a previous post and once these have been evaluated, we will delete or upload other apps as the project proceeds.
Therefore, one advantage of the other hardware platform for our project, the Toshiba Thrive tablets running on Android 3.0 OS already.  The Toshiba tablets came with word processor, spreadsheet and powerpoint equivalents plus Evernote along with assorted productivity apps. We will just need to add a few apps and we are ready to go. Next week, the tutors involved will work on details for introducing the tablets to their students, so lots of interesting learning to look forward to.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Evaluating Toshiba Thrive tablet for interactive etextbook project

IT had a Toshiba Thrive, running on android 3.0.1 for a one hour play. So gave it a quick looking over and explored it’s capabilities.  A quick thrawl through Google reveals a mostly positive review from cnet, techradar and liliputing.

The Thrive is about same thickness as an iPad 1 but longer/wider by 3 cm, the screen itself is only 1 cm longer. The Thrive seems to be more comfortable to use in landscape mode as the portrait mode is definitely narrower. The back of the tablet is covered in a cross hatched rubberised coating, making it perhaps a safer alternative for use in workshops. An added plus is the ability to replace the tablet’s battery via the removal of the back.

Collection of Android apps pretty standard but the Thrive also came with Toshiba ‘think free’ based software for word processing (write), powerpoint presentations (show) and spreadsheets (calc).

A collection of ports (usb, camera and HDMI ) allow for ease of transfer off memory sticks and other storage devices and display on a TV screen. These port are behind a rubber flange on the side of the tablet. The rubber cover is attached with a very thin strip to the tablet and might not take continuous rough use!

Access to the usb via the file manager app was a breeze. Reading pdf documents on landscape very comfortable and reading on portrait view acceptable. Photos come up via ‘gallery’ and viewing of photos very much similar experience to on an iPad. Word docs run on thinkfree write. Typing on the on-screen keyboard is straight-forward, with some tactile response and the backspace key is in the usual place on top right hand corner of the on-screen keyboard. No predictive text though. Powerpoint runs well via access through usb and on to thinkfree show. Could edit powerpoint and save but not sure if it will then run again in Windows environment. The touch interface for show was easy to use.

In tablet camera works well, providing good aural feedback when the photo is taken. Good resolution in the photo with options to sent to printer share (blue tooth printer), picassa, evernote, Bluetooth, gmail etc.)

All in, a worthwhile alternative to the Acer Iconia reviewed last week.

Evernote for learning

Have been working through Evernote on the ipad, Android OS tablet and Windows OS tablet and desktop (web version only). Lots of resources on the web as to ways to use Evernote in education including as time manager, student eportfolio, video/prezi of educational uses and  as teacher's 'swiss army knife'.  Also a guide to the ipad apps that complement Evernote.

There is also a blog on maximising the use of Evernote in education with handy posts for teachers, getting students started ,  tips for using at school and how to best maximise research using evernotes.

So, several approaches and ideas to trial and evaluate later in the month with students and tutors on our interactive etextbook project.