Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Three Mobile Apps That Can Help Students Search

Students might forget their lunches, their gym shoes, and their homework assignments when they leave their houses in the morning, but they never forget their mobile phones. We can help students put those mobile devices to good use through the use of mobile search apps.

Google Goggles is a free Android app that lets students take a picture of an object and then search for similar objects. In the search for similar objects Google will include links to the pages that host the pictures returned in the search. Google Goggles also works when students take pictures of passages of text. The image below outlines the type of searches that Google Goggles is best at conducting.

If you are an iPhone or iPad user the Google search app has a search-by-image option. Samantha Morra outline how to use it in this 2014 guest post.

As I featured last week, CamFind is a free Android and iPhone app that works in a manner similar to that of Google Goggles. CamFind is a free iOS and Android app that enables you to take a picture of any object and then instantly conduct a web search about it. For example, when I take a picture of my computer bag CamFind instantly starts to search for objects like it as well as web pages about computer bags. I've also used CamFind to take pictures of blocks of text and let CamFind then search for web articles related to the text in my picture.

Blippar is an augmented reality app available for iOS, Android, and Windows phones. Like the other apps in this list Blippar uses the image captured by your camera to search for related pictures and articles on the web. I have used this app the least of the three on this list, but I included it because Blippar does work on Windows devices and is developing an education-specific product.

QuizSlides is Closing Accounts - Use It or Lose It

QuizSlides is a service whose purpose is to help you build quizzes based upon your slides. I've been using the service off and on since 2012. This week the QuizSlides developers sent out an email in which they explained that they can no longer support "a high volume of concurrent users" outside of their university. To that end QuizSlides will cease support for concurrent use on August 1st. But if you haven't logged into your account at all by March 31st your account will be closed.

If you have been using QuizSlides and still want to use it for training purposes in a setting in which you will not have a high volume of concurrent quiz takers, QuizSlides will still offer QuizSlides Training. Again, log into your account keep this option active.

About QuizSlides:
QuizSlides allows you to upload PPT or PPTX files containing questions then add answer choices to create an instant-feedback quiz. The quiz can be set to allow students to try answers until they get the correct answer or the quiz can be set to allow only one try per question.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Perspecs Shows Students Three Sides to Every Story

Perspecs is a new app that aims to provide users with three sides to every news story. On Monday through Friday the free Android and iPhone app offers a selection of articles about current topics in the news. The topics could be breaking news or they could be topics of a more evergreen nature like national education systems.

I tested Perspecs on my Android phone by selecting one of Friday's topics which was "Is China Best for Education?" The app then presented me with three articles on the topic. Each article took a different position on the topic. I was able to read all of the articles within the app.

Applications for Education
Whenever I have taught current events courses I have worked hard to try to present a balanced selection of news sources to my students. Perspecs won't eliminate the need for me to do that, but it will help me find a balanced set of articles on topics we're discussing in class.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing Perspecs last week.

More Resources for Teaching and Learning About Flight #STEM

On Sunday I wrote a post about an interactive timeline of the developments made by the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss. Here are some more resources for teaching and learning about developments in aerospace.

America by Air online exhibit is a series of thirteen online activities that take students through the history of commercial aviation in the United States.

How Things Fly features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.

Apollo to the Moon lacks the interactive simulations of the three exhibits featured above. That deficiency is made up for by the depth of the content in the exhibit. Apollo to the Moon contains seven chapters chronicling NASA's effort to put a man on the moon. The exhibit begins with a history of the Space Race and Kennedy's proclamation that the United States would put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960's. From there the exhibit moves into the design of rockets and other equipment to put a man on the moon. It concludes with a gallery of artifacts related to the Apollo 11 mission.

Use the Crowd to Go Beyond Google

Whenever I have the opportunity to speak about personal/ professional learning networks (PLNs) one of points that I stress to the skeptical members of the audience is the idea of going beyond Google. By that I mean using social networks to discover ideas and information that you might not find if you were simply Googling for information. In essence this comes down to the idea that "together we are smarter." When you ask for help or feedback from your PLN you are potentially using the brains of dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other educators. In response to your request you may find people are willing to share things they've created or things they've discovered that you couldn't have found by Googling.

Applications for Education
Students can use this concept of "going beyond Google with the help of friends." In fact, I'd argue that they should be using whenever they're working on group projects. Use a service like Diigo or eduClipper to have students create a groups in which they share materials they've found and or created.