Thursday, 27 March 2014

Apps for Student Collaboration

It often happens that while I am searching for apps to suit a particular need, I encounter a new app that does something more exciting and engaging than the one for which I am searching.  Can you tell I love tech? Such was my experience this morning.  There are countless blogs that have wonderful suggestions on how to create a workflow, having students use a series of apps to create a product or complete a learning outcome. This morning, I found a few apps that could be used to have students collaborate on a project.

I've previously posted about using Google docs for student collaboration.  I feel like this is still the best way to collaborate on a document in real-time.  If you are looking for a way to work together on a presentation, adding pictures, text, links to video content, annotations, and files, all while having the capability of video chatting, adding comments, and sharing your screen with others, then Real Time Board is the tool for you. There are many similarities to the way that Prezi operates, but the collaborative aspect adds another dimension to this tool.  You can invite others by email, Google+, and Facebook to view and collaborate on your board.  You also have the capability of saving your board as an image or PDF, or embedding your link on a blog.  This could be a powerful tool to have students collaboratively produce presentations and share and save in amazing ways!  I've shared a quick board that I had created when I first signed up for the account.  You can view a basic example I created on the human heart and circulatory system here.

I came across an app that I think would do some of the same things as Real Time Board called SyncShare. SyncShare shares drawings between participants that are invited via email, Twitter, or iMessage.  This app allows two iPad users to collaborate on a drawing or annotate on a photograph.  I thought that the free app was the only version available, but I soon discovered that the paid version allows the student to share drawings without limits.  You could take screenshots of content from the web on which you would like to annotate or include as part of the drawing.  The only disadvantage is the $10 price tag.  The Aww app is a scaled down web-version similar to SyncShare, which can be used, for free, quickly between users.

Subtext is another app that I would like to mention, although it appears that we do not currently have access to the app in Canada.  What is superb about Subtext is that you can load PDFs, articles, and eBooks and highlight sections within the text to have students engage in a discussion. There are too many features to mention, but I was presented with this app at a conference in the States and it has incredible potential for use in the classrooms.  Bring it our way, app developer!

Educators and students alike have the potential to extend education beyond the classroom walls, making learning a continuous, collaborative, and engaging process.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Dictation using Siri on the iPad 2

Although there are a couple of options for students to be able to create and store notes, I've tried to explore the most cost effective way of enabling students who have difficulty with written production to create and organize notes. Months ago, I discovered the Notability app, which allows you to create notebooks and within each notebook, store note pages.  At a reasonable cost of $1.99, this app has great functionality. You can add photos, audio recorded content, graphics, web links, and sticky notes.  I have now discovered that when you enable SIRI in your iPad settings, you can easily dictate the notes you would like to create into the notepage.  With SIRI activated, one can create highly customized notes with visual content to support the ideas covered in the classroom.

Here is an example of what can be created with the options in Notability.  I dictated the text from a book called,  A Buffet of Sensory Interventions: Solutions for Middle and High School Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Susan Culp, MS, OTR/L.  I added a photo, wrote on a sticky note, and added a link to a video on sensory integration.  The note was automatically dated and stored in the notebook of my choosing.  This is a great tool that has a multitude of options to allow students to easily gather and store information.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Dictation and Text-to-Speech with Google Chrome

I am always looking for ways to meld free technology applications together to produce great results.  The other day, I attended an IEP meeting for a student who required a dictation application, as written work production was a real challenge. Today, I tested out a couple of applications, loaded onto my Google Chrome browser, that would meet the above mentioned student's needs.  Google Chrome is fantastic as you can add apps and extensions to your browser which can make Internet searches, writing, and producing content a whole lot more accessible. The two applications that I loaded onto my browser from the Chrome Store are Speechlogger and SpeakIt! Speechlogger is a great, accessible dictation software that allows users to customize the dictation by adding a title, dictate using a USB microphone, and enter multiple entries that can be exported to a text file or emailed.  Using SpeakIt!, alongside this dictation software, gives the user the capability of highlighting their text and playing back what they have dictated.  An excellent tool for students who have access to a desktop or laptop computer with an inexpensive microphone.