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For me, summer always brings back memories of youth and rebellion. It’s in that spirit that I’m going to break my model of IEAR app reviews from applications that clearly have a classroom focus.  Instead, I’m going to go rogue and take a look at a little app that I have been enjoying in a less formal learning space, the golf course.

My golf career began early in my teen years when my grandfather passed down an old set of Sam Snead clubs. The grips were worn smooth and some of the clubs were slightly shafted, but they got me started with the game. I played on the high school team for 3 years with mediocre results. I wasn’t terrible, but I far from great. Nevertheless, I enjoyed every minute of my time on the course, and those formative years have led to a life-long love of a sport that helped me learn about concentration, discipline and dedication.

Recently, I decided to make the jump from the traditional paper-based scorecard to a digital version for my iPod Touch. I downloaded a number of apps, but the one that I have taken the most to has been Golfshot by Shotzoom Software. While it is not a traditional educational app, I feel that it could be beneficial to junior golfers and high school golf coaches. I can only imagine how much I might have been able to improve my game and sharpen my mathematical thinking skills if I would have had access to a mobile data collection and analysis tool like Golfshot when I really had time to work on improving my game. Let’s take a closer look at the app and imagine how it might be used for educational purposes.

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TumbleBooksToGo1

App Title: TumbleBooks ToGo Munsch 6-Pack

Grade Level: Pre-K – Grade 3

Description:

At the heart of early literacy experience is the storybook, which marks the young children’s entrée into literacy around the world. Its powerful role in literacy development is well documented in family literacy and early education. A staple of the bedtime (or nap) routine, the storybook shared between adult and child mediates what Don Holdaway referred to as an emerging literacy set: high expectations of print; models of book language; familiarity with written symbols; print conventions; listening skills; and de-contextualizing abilities (e.g., imaging) (Holdaway, 1979). Substantial research supports the claim that storybook reading prepares children for the learn-to-read process (Bus, 2001).

Roskos, K., & Brueck, J. (2009). The eBook as a Learning Object in an Online World. In A. Bus & S. Neuman (Eds.), Multimedia and Literacy Development (77-88). New York: Routeledge.

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A few weekends ago my wife’s parents were in town visiting for the weekend. During that time, our 3 year old son was eager to show his Nana and grandpa a few of his favorite apps on his iPod Touch. One of those apps was YouTube. He loves to watch videos of some of his favorite Nick Jr. shows. Usually, I use the SEARCH feature of YouTube to try and filter out irrelevant videos.

However, as my father-in-law quickly found out, that doesn’t help in filtering inappropriate content. Take a look at these search results for Blue’s Clues. The top results turn out to be actual episode content, but as you scroll down the list, you really begin to run into some objectionable content. Take a quick look at this clip which has been viewed over a million times. [WARNING! Explicit Song Lyrics]

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App Title: iTouchiLearn Words

Grade Level: Pre-K, Kinderbound, Kindergarten

Cost: $0.99

Developer Website: http://www.staytoooned.com/

iTunes Link: Click Here

Description:

A student’s knowledge of word meanings, or oral vocabulary, plays a key role in reading comprehension. The iTouchiLearn Words app for iPhone and iPod Touch provides young learners with an opportunity to engage in vocabulary building practice. Developed by Staytoooned, the cover screen indicates that the app is designed to “learn words through entertaining animations.”

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Donut

A few weeks ago I posted Essential iPod Touch Apps from a 9 Year Old Boy’s Perspective. In it, I provided an overview of all of the iPod Touch apps that Isaac currently had installed on his Touch. I created a Google Spreadsheet to use to keep track of his list. That led me tho think it might be an interesting little research study to collect Isaac’s opinions regarding the apps. Why did him pick them out on the iTunes Store and download them? What makes an app engaging, or not engaging? How would he rate the app? So, like any good educational researcher, I created a quick assessment tool for Isaac to use to review the app and for me to collect my data.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a bit of tough sell to Isaac. Even though I created a desktop shortcut to the Google Form on Isaac’s laptop, he has been a little reluctant to actually open it up and submit review data on his own. I have managed to coax him into reviewing two apps on two separate occasions. I’m going to share the first four reviews with you tonight in their submitted form. Early on in this process, it seems like Isaac really enjoys apps by the developers at Donut Games.

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Apple rep. now showing iEAR.org. How ’bout them “Apples” @smeech, @brueckj23, et al.

This @jonbecker tweet just popped up a few minutes ago. It’s really great to know that Apple is aware of the great things we have been working to do with the I Education Apps Review community. @smeech, myself and many others have volunteered countless hours in order to try and provide quality insight into how iDevices could and should be used in the classroom. I hope that Apple education reps reach out to those of us at IEAR.org and that we can find a way to work together in the future to do what is in the best interest of our students.

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iPad001

And as a tech director, I am concerned that no one at Apple seems to have a good answer about managing sets of these devices. “The iPad is designed for end-user management” was the rather glib response we received from our local Apple rep. Buying software requires buying an iTunes gift card if one wants to use a PO. No attention that I can find has been given to educational licensing of any “apps” for the thing. Sigh…

I found the last paragraph of this excellent post by Doug Johnson to be particularly interesting. The management of a classroom set of iDevices has been a subject of discussion at the I Education Apps Review Ning for some time now. See the Forums titled “Management of iPod Touch,” “Organizing Apps on Multiple Touches” and “Can we finalize the discussion on licensing for multiple touch devices for schools?

There seems to be a general lack of interest by Apple in helping educators unleash the full potential of the devices. I have personally reached out to an Apple exec who I met at METC 2010 on multiple occasions and received no follow-up reply. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. Morrie Reece (reece@apple.com), Apple’s Senior Education Development Executive. Was it all an act when you excitedly snapped pictures of my jailbroken Touch running Screensplitr & DemoGod as I explained how I needed to mirror Touch apps on my local computer for use at conference presentations and for creating screencasts for professional development and training purposes?

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I’ve had the iPad for three days now and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the device. One part of me is totally in love with the device. Another though can’t help but feel a little unsatisfied. As of now, I’m planning to write a proper review after my first full week using the iPad.

Today, I’ve decided to focus instead on a short post using the WordPress app for iPad. Download and set-up of the app, which is free, was really simple. If you already have an existing WordPress blog, you simply enter the URL and your log-in credentials and you are ready to go. By default, the 25 most current posts load into the app.

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iPad arrived at office this AM.

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Some days my job is really fun! Today is one of those days. 2 iPads arrived via UPS so I can begin testing eBooks & other educational apps. Look for more information on the educational implications of these devices to come on Raised Digital.

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I am many things. An educator, a doctoral candidate, a friend, a colleague, a leader, an innovator…I’m sure this list could go on with much debate. However, first and foremost, I’m a husband to a wonderful wife and a father to 3 sons who are the center of my life. Ian and Isaac are twins who are 9 years old and in the third grade. Aiden is just about 3 and starting to give us a real run for our money.

This morning I handed over control of one of my iPod Touch devices to each twin. I spent some time with Isaac showing him how to access the iTunes app store, download apps and sync them to the Touch while Ian was off shopping with his mother. I thought it might be interesting to give Raised Digital and IEAR readers a look at what apps 9 year old boys download to their iPod Touch. Here’s a couple screen shots that give you the general rundown.

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This is a personal blog. The resources, information and views presented on Raised Digital are solely the opinion of Jeremy S. Brueck, and are not meant to reflect the views of my employer.


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