Sunday, November 28, 2010

Notes about using ipad for teaching

Working with iPad and its uses in education

This monday I am going to talk to a group of fellow academics in the campus about the use of iPad on education and how i use it myself for teaching and my research around the campus. This blog post is more for planning my talk and sharing information than anything else. First of course there is a need to write about my own introspection of how I myself use iPad in my daily academic life.

I have been using the iPad over the last four or five months now and I use it almost extensively more note taking and working with my colleagues. It’s almost like an extension of my inner self where I keep almost all my notes in it. Starting from my notes that I took while I was at a meeting in Australia back in August when I taught an informal group of clinicians and pharmacology colleagues in India about statistical data analysis sitting in the Melbourne public library, I think the potential of iPad to provide always on computing support is tremendous. I guess I really like two things about iPad, it’s form factor, and the speed with which it boots up and keeps running. Unfortunately I do not have wifi support in my office. If I had, I’d use iPad to replace my use of printer for my writing work.

That brings me to discuss the other aspect of iPad as a primarily consumption device. It is essentially a device where one can view resources as opposed to actually use it for hard data analysis or write long papers. One can write papers in ipad I guess but iPad is mostly suited for writing short posts and status updates rather than long rants (having said that, this post is being written on iPad from my bed in the dead of night). The part about iPad I hate the most is the on-screen keyboard. I wish apple put more thought into it’s design to make it more user friendly. I quite like the idea of a keyboard popping up on demand but the peculiar layout also makes typing on this keyboard a real pain.

As personal reflection, what tools and apps do I find most useful in my iPad? It’s time to discuss a short list of all that I find really useful for my work

  1. First of all, I think using iPad forces you to work in modes where you tend to simplify life, and use plain text and plain text based implementations as much as you can.

  2. This essentially means using stuff like markdown and multimakrdown for your regular and academic work

  3. Also, while we are at it, some form of transformation to use multimarkdown and markdown to latex and use of bibtex or related tools like JabRef for citation management, perhaps using Zotero for citatioin management I think this is an area where ipad currently lacks for a serious academic and teaching use.

  4. There is also no serious integration between tools like [Moodle][mood] and ipad.

However, compared to the opportunities presented by ipad for education and its uses, these are minor issues and can possibly be overcome.

Here’s how I personally use ipad for my daily work and utilize:

  1. I use ipad to store all my pdfs and read them, mark them, annotate them and send the notes to cloud based servers like dropbox and google docs
  2. I use markdown for my regular writing and multimarkdown for my academic and teaching based writing.
  3. I keep notes with my students on my ipad and refer to them or email them notes promptly after meeting them
  4. I use markdown and send markdown based emails to my blogs as teaching notes, and direct students to view the markdown formatted html notes on the blog and reflect on them. Thus, it is possible to set up an html based slideshow using markdown and present the ideas before the students using only ipad and a compatible web server

Our Sunday trip to Lake Heron

We tramped around the shores of Lake Heron, a jewel of the Ashburton Lakes. The way from Christchurch is to go through Darfield, take scenic route 72, all the way to Mount Somers, and take right from Hakatere on a gravel road to the lakeshore. Magnificent lake, unbelievable landscape.

Click on the photo below to view the slides:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Some Resources for Education using Ipad ((ipad))

Attempt at finding a list of ipad apps for education

The following is a list of my Google Search (26th November, 2010), using the terms “apps education ipad”. You can update the results youself if you stick the following search terms to Google:

Google Search apps education ipad was the top result, here did not go with any specific plan to identify the best apps for education (other than the ones for tertiary education). I liked the following list of resources for the administrators and thought they provided quite an exhaustive list, here:

List for administrators issue is, running a search for ipad apps for education invariably brings up apps suitable for primary education and for children, but there are few sites that list apps appropriate for university education courses.

An encouraging development is interactive textbooks, the stellar example is Inkling There are several really nice free ebook readers which can be used for the same purpose.

A separate section for ipad apps should be devoted to web apps.

Ipad being such a connected device, a good thing might be to roll out your own web app, and there are several excellent tutorials and free books. A place to start might be the Six Revisions Site

Another Good resource to learn ipad web apps development is the ipad-web-apps site. Interestingly both Google and Yahoo! have excellent web apps for the ipad.

Here’s Mike Press' review of ipad as a research tool. The world of ipad apps is an enormous and depending on what you are planning to use it for, it’s more than likely that you will find an app exactly. If not, you can make one if you want. In a next post, I am going to write about journals, books, and newspaper apps.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Photos from Ron Mueck Exhibition

Ron Mueck's Hyper-realism

This afternoon we were at the exhibition of the Ron Mueck's installations at the Christchurch Art Exhibition Centre. Ron Mueck is a hyper realist artist from Australia based in the UK. The installations were quite remarkable. In particular, the details and the art were quite magical. I really liked his "dead dad" installation, the finer points about the facial expression of a man in sleep was remarkable.

Robert Rosenblum, a curator himself and authored on Ron Mueck, wrote about this genre of installations as "post human" art.

The installations were very impressive. Included here a few photographs.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reflections on developing a research methods course outline

I write this blog post as I write and reframe the course I offer at the University of Canterbury, I think I am going to do some more innovative stuff this time.

I have been using the Essentials of Research Design and Methodology, a text by DeMatteo and Marczyk for some time now. It's a very informative text written at the right pitch for students who are about entering the subject area of conducting a research work or a research project.

Traditionally, I have used lectures and class discussions as my teaching methods. This year, I plan to organize the class entirely around problem solving and focusing on problem-based learning or principles of inquiry guided learning.