Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What I'd like to see for an iTouch

While I looked at what's out there yesterday, I still see quite a bit of potential to be reached, and reached within the next two years. There's even potential for these needs to be developed locally. Grant Wood's Andy Crozier and I recently attended a session on Apple iTouch App development, and given the (nearly) free developer kits out there, there is potential for the AEAs, and enterprising schools, in partnership with developers from the state's universities, could produce items such as these, in perfect alignment with the Iowa Core.

1. An easy-to-use flashcard program, where a teacher can quickly go in on the internet and upload curriculum related information that the student's iTouch would then draw upon, giving students an interactive way to check their understanding of teacher notes immediately after a lesson... and anytime thereafter.

2. Tools that mash geochaching information, such as photos or data, that tie in with a geographic location. Google Earth's iTouch app works well, and with the availability of free Google Sketchup licenses for Iowa, students can build 3-D items in addition to adding photos and data. Research is coming out that, given students increasing acclivity toward visual references for a schema to house non-visual information, geocached mapping serves as a referential package for student learning (such as Google Lit Trips).

3. Simulation-games, where a student has an interactive lesson to experiment, explore, and practice the skills they have acquired, such as what UW-Madison is doing. Here's a screenshot of a simulation-game created for students to interact with the Milwaukee Museum of Modern Art.

4. Clicker-style formative feedback, where a teacher poses a question to class, students select one of the answers, and the teacher can pull up live feedback from the "polling" via computer and display over a projector. The data could be displayed anonymously, or tracked by students when they log in.

5. In the same vein as above, a way to quickly generate online quizzes, especially ones that can be dynamically generated.

6. Personalized data programs, such as health and fitness monitors, musical composition devices, visual arts portfolios, allowing students to track their own learning. This one will be a ways off, as there needs to be better ways to import data and images into the ipod.

7. Apps that give practice for skill acquisition. This is the place where the first educational apps are, including ones for math facts, spelling, vocabulary, scientific equation balancing, etc. These are much more interactive than a simple multiple-choice quiz problem. Problem right now is they aren't customizable--I can't create a vocabulary activity over the first grade sight words in my curriculum. But this could change with advances in the software.

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