Tuesday, October 29, 2013

iOS 7 Tips and Tricks

If you own an iPad or iPhone you probably did the iOS 7 upgrade and then felt a little lost about certain tasks. Don't get me wrong I think the upgrade is great and I do really like how everything looks and performs but it took me a little bit of adjusting to get acquainted with the changes. The following tips and tricks might help you too.

The following tips were gathered from the following two websites:
1. How to open control center: swipe up from bottom
This allows you to toggle on/off your wifi, airplane mode, Bluetooth, music controls, clock settings, camera, do not disturb and orientation lock.
2. Spotlight search: swipe down in the middle (not from the top) of any home page.
3. Unclutter your notifications: go to settings>notification center to choose exactly what you want displayed and how.
4.  Go Back: swipe from the left in a supported app to jump back to what you were doing.
5.  You now can have giant folders
There’s no longer a limit on the number of apps you can put into a folder. You can use them to hide stock apps you don’t use, including the Newsstand.
6.  How to close apps and multi-task
Double tap the Home button to get a look at what you have on the go. See an app you want to close? Just swipe it up and the app will close.
7. How to make the screen background stop moving
Is the new parallax effect making you sick? Some people suffer from motion sickness and struggle to focus, but you can head into Settings > General > Accessibility and turn Reduce Motion on to ease up on the animations. You can also bold the text, make it bigger, or invert the colors in the Accessibility menu.
8.  Type searches right into Safari
You can now type searches in the address bar in Safari and it will return results in real time (like Chrome), both from Google and from your own Bookmarks and History. If you head into Bookmarks and tap the “@” symbol you’ll find a handy list of links from your Twitter timeline. You can also head into Settings in Safari to change various things, such as your default search engine. You could also turn on Do Not Track for a little extra privacy while browsing.
9.  How to close Safari tabs
Struggling to tap that tiny x? Don’t bother; when you’re scrolling through tabs in Safari you can just swipe them away to the left to close them. The limit has been increased too; you can now have up to 24 tabs open at once. (note: I personally couldn’t get this to work but it might be because I have an older iPad??)
10. How to find, wipe, or lock your lost device
When you have iCloud turned on, via Settings > iCloud, you also have access to some handy features for finding a lost device if you turn on the Find My iPhone feature. If your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch goes missing then go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID and password. You can see where the device is on a map, learn where it’s been, and remotely lock it. If you put it into Lost Mode, a passcode is required to unlock it (you should always use a passcode or Touch ID anyway). You can also display a message with contact details to try and retrieve it. If you fear it has been stolen then the Activation Lock feature should prevent anyone else from turning off Find My iPhone, or erasing your device, unless they have your Apple ID and password. You can also opt to remotely wipe all of your personal data. Another feature worth setting up can be found in Settings > General > Passcode Lock; tap Erase Data to ensure that your device is wiped after 10 failed passcode attempts.
11.  How to create perfect wallpapers
You can choose your wallpaper in Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness, but if you want them to look perfect with that parallax effect then you need to make them the right size. Crop your images to match these dimensions and your wallpapers should look just right. Resizing will stretch them and it won’t look right, so don’t do it.
    iPhone 5/5C/5S – 1536 x 1040 pixels
    iPhone 4S – 1360 x 1040 pixels
    iPad 3 and iPad 4 – 2448 x 2448 pixels
    iPad 2 and iPad mini – 1424 x 1424 pixels

12. How to use AirDrop
AirDrop is an easy way to share files with other Apple devices by using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (both need to be enabled for it to work). You’ll find it in the Control Center when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Tap on the AirDrop section at the bottom left and you can make your device discoverable for Contacts Only or Everyone; you can also just turn it off completely in here. When you choose someone to share with, or they choose you, there’s a notification and preview giving the option to deny or accept the file. NOTE: this feature is not available on older generation iPads.

13. How to use FaceTime without showing your face
You can make audio-only FaceTime calls now. It’s as simple as tapping the phone icon, instead of the video icon, in the FaceTime app. It’s great for saving yourself some minutes when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
14. Shoot in Burst mode: The redesigned Camera app has a nifty trick up its sleeve: if you want to shoot in burst mode, taking multiple shots in quick succession, just click and hold the volume-up button.

15.  Make the text bigger in apps
Always forgetting your glasses? Apple now lets you change the text size in apps that support the feature - all Apple apps do - so you can see what you are doing, or make things smaller of course. To change the the text size of all apps that support Dynamic Type go to Settings > General > Text Size and slide the bar to where you want it to be.

16.  Additional Camera features: Shoot Square, Pano, and there are more editing features including filters.

Friday, October 25, 2013

eLcc Faculty Development day

I attended a nice faculty development day conference at Metropolitan State University sponsored by eLcc on October 25th.
The keynote was by Bridget Arend of University of Denver. Her main message was "be purposeful" in choosing and using technology. She co-authored a book titled "Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning." She suggests that instructors reflect on their courses and try allocating the percentage of time students should spend on particular methods of learning with a worksheet she provided (I have a copy, so let me know if you would like one). The worksheet is titled "what I hope my students learn."
There are about 15 common methods listed. She says that you can reflect on your distribution and think about finding a balance to what you really wish to focus on.
Here are the 7 ways of learning of learning: (no particular order)

  1. acquiring knowledge
  2. building skills
  3. developing critical, creative, and dialogical thinking
  4. cultivating problem solving and decision making
  5. practicing professional judgment 
  6. exploring attitudes, feelings and perspectives
  7. reflecting on experience
You can go to www.sevenwaysoflearning.com to find out more.

I also went to a session on digital storytelling.
The presenters were working with pre-college students but mentioned that they used a variety of tools to put together the digital stories. The first step to the process. they suggest, is to have the students focus on the story and the narrative. The instructors said that they don't place word limits on the first draft of the narrative because they will actually spend time in class to whittle down and apply some critical thinking to compose a more concise message of 300 words or less.
Once they have the narrative down, the next step is to record the narrative with audacity. They highly recommend audacity because it is easy to use and the user has the ability to go in and edit the audio. The audio can be exported and then uploaded to the storytelling software. They use iMovie,  and another tool that is free called www.wevideo.com. The nice feature of www.wevideo.com is that it is easy to use, free, and cloud-based.
So students have some flexibility in choosing tools to edit and create their digital story.  They can incorporate images with the narrative and bring the story to life.  One fun thing that they do at the end of the semester is hold a "film fest" at have the students nominate their favorites and give out awards.

Cool tool alert!
Just in conversation with a colleague I found out about tagxedo.com. You may have heard about wordles to create interesting tag clouds, but tagxedo.com helps you create word clouds that are in shapes. the possibilities are endless. Check out the galleries they have listed for inspiration.
I learned more about the functionality of one of my favorite social media tech tools, Diigo. Although I tend to use it more for personal use. I certainly has applications for using with students. Diigo is a cloud-based social bookmarking tool.
Some features that I have not really tried that I am now interested in investigating are, the list tool and the groups tool. The list tool allows you to create a folder for a collection of tags. Groups allow you to push bookmarks out to special groups such as a class group. The participants may also add links for the group as well. Here is a good article from Educause that outlines all the basics of social bookmarking.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Educause 2013 "Uncommon Thinking for the Common Good"

This is the first time that I have attended an Educause conference and I have to say it has exceeded my expectations. I felt as though I was on some kind of educational game show but I guess I can categorize this as a Mega conference!  I estimate that there were about 5500 people in attendance, easily over 100 venders at the expo. A large portion of the conference was focused on global or campus wide IT challenges and creative solution brainstorming.

The featured keynote speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, was excellent! You may have seen one or two of his Ted Talks. He focuses his message on innovation, creativity and education and the unique combination to solve big challenges that we face today and will face in the future. He has a couple of books you might want to check out: "Out of our Minds", "The Element", and "Finding your Element."

The keynote address at Educause was titled "Leading a Culture of Innovation." Sir Ken was both entertaining and thought provoking. He started with the ideas and perceptions of "culture." Sometimes when we hear about other cultures from other countries we find it hard to understand, but this is because with every culture bubble you have a context around it. We (humans) live within a framework of values and ideas. He also pointed out that most great ideas are not exactly planned. We oftentimes cannot even predict how something might impact the culture. When the television invention first came about most people didn't believe that TV would kill the radio. TV eventually did kill the radio and it changed the culture. Smartphones and devices are similarly changing the culture. We are at a point in time where we are witnessing a change in the culture of education.
Sir Ken said that imagination and creativity are quite different in that you can imagine all day long but creativity is actually acting on the imagination by "doing." With creativity we add value to ideas. So going back to the culture conversation and how we might struggle to understand culture it is because we are adding out values and context to it. In general, the question might become then, when thinking about an idea, which values or who's values to you apply to it?
Innovation is putting good ideas into practice.
It is always funny to project into the future. Will we be flying around with jetpacks, will education be completely free, will we have personal robots, or will we have nanochips in our brains that think for us? We might think that those ideas sound absurd right now but if you have said just 15 years ago that we'd all be carrying around these small computers in our pockets and making phone calls and accessing the wikipedia for answers on a whim, we would said you were koo-koo.
With education, getting degrees do not guarantee a job anymore. It is too expensive as well. Who are we serving? Who should we be serving?
Sir Ken's main take away is that we need to think creatively and radically on solving challenges that will impact the future generations.

I highly recommend that you view this 11 minute video from RSA Animate that Sir Ken Robinson narrated on the topic of Changing Education Paradigms http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U


Monday, October 21, 2013

Sigil: an Open Source eBook Creator

Free ePub creator
I’ve been looking for a simple, intuitive e-book creator to examine the functionality of electronic texts at the college, primarily for supplemental content. And I may have found the answer thanks to a presentation done by John Raible and Amy Sugar at the Educause 2013 Annual Conference. John and Amy presented the session titled DIY eBooks Using Open Source Tools. The session featured Sigil, a free, open source ePub creator.

Sigil was developed in 2009 as a multi-platform e-book creator supporting Windows, OSX, and Linux. Sigil incorporates several handy interfaces including WYSIWYG and code-based editing as well as the importing of HTML and plain text files. Sigil was formerly hosted by Google Code but is now available on several alternate sites such as GitHub and CNET.

The presenters developed a nine page e-book for the presentation to demonstrate the versatility of Sigil. They suggested that an e-book be laid out initially in a word processor using the appropriate formats such as lists, tables, headings and fonts. It was also suggested to use placeholders for images, audio, and video files for later input into an e-book.

Example text page
All multimedia content should be properly formatted prior be placement into a Sigil doc. This includes image resizing and the trimming
of audio and video clips. The presenters also suggested using mp3 for audio, mp4 for video, and jpg and/or png for images. The placement of content into Sigil appeared to be quite easy and required minimal reformatting.

Getting the e-book into the hands of students requires either an ebook reader on a mobile device or the Readium program installed on computers. The demo ebook opened without issue on my Windows 7 computer running Adobe Digital Editions. The look was clean and navigation was flawless.

Example text page with image
Sigil is definitely on the “technologies to try” list. There are possibilities for supplemental content and online training texts. 

Thanks to John and Amy for making us aware of another great resource. Their presentation resources are freely available through a Creative Commons license.