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Poll

Which 3 (Or less) in 1997?

10% 10% [ 1 ]
40% 40% [ 4 ]
0% 0% [ 0 ]
10% 10% [ 1 ]
20% 20% [ 2 ]
10% 10% [ 1 ]
0% 0% [ 0 ]
0% 0% [ 0 ]
10% 10% [ 1 ]
0% 0% [ 0 ]

Total Votes : 10

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Which device is the right one?

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Which device is the right one?

Post by kevinh on Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:23 pm

Part of my job here at ESSDACK
is to explore and learn about the devices that schools will buy and use
to educate kids. Iíve been exploring gadgets my whole life and itís fun
to have a job that requires this nerdy quest of mine. Iíve had an
iPhone for a long time and have used multiple iPod incarnations before
that. The HTC version of the Android phone
joined my life soon after I bought the iPhone 4 and the iPad that Iíve
been test driving and creating on was recently joined by a Samsung Galaxy Tablet.
As you might be surmizing, I juggle a lot of gadgets. I want to
dedicate this post to telling you about my experiences with these
devices and what I think their strengths and weakness might be.





Pretend for a moment that humans could
add limbs at will. If we wanted more arms, we simply ordered them and
added them to our bodies. Equipped with our new arms, there would be new
things we could do but the brain would need time to fully incorporate
the new limbs into the nervous system. In the short term we would be
clumsy creatures, waiting to get the full use and value out of the new
acquisitions.





I feel a bit like this sometimes.
Sometimes I feel like Dr. Jekll, injecting myself with various formulas
to see what the result will be. As a technology integrationist, it is my
duty to experiment and test drive new technologies before educators and
schools purchase them because I want to be able to advise them as to
their potential usefulness. This can be a good thing if you like new
devices but if youíre like me and feel compelled to really spend time
experimenting and getting to know these gadgets, it can be overwhelming.






I try to simulate the scenarios a
classroom teacher might find themselves involved in so that I can answer
questions they might have. I know that I am not surrounded by 25
students in my imagined scenarios so the advice is only as good as my
personal purview. I will attempt to sum things up in this post and at
least start sharing some of the lessons Iíve learned in the last two
years or so.





I will admit to some bias toward Apple
products because I had the iPod and iPhone and iPad first. Iíve found
that some loyalty is established when you learn a new platform and it
works well for you. Admittedly the Android OS and itís implementation in
some of my recent devices has been a late comer to my thinking but the
Galaxy Tab has a done a lot to balance my thinking with regard to pad
based platforms.





I got an iPod almost as soon as they
came out when it was a glorified jukebox that did the same thing other
MP3 players did while looking cooler doing it. I listened to audio books
and lectures and collected podcasts, all of which I listened to on the
many long road trips my job called upon me to take. When the video iPod
was released I moved into one immediately and added video to my learning
consumption model.





The iPod Touch was for me the ďshot
heard round the worldĒ. Here was a device that gave me access to all of
my music, audio and video and it introduced me to the idea of apps.
These amazing little (sometimes useful) mini-software solutions held out
tremednous hope of being very useful to educators and education. In the
short term apps were fun and funny but I rarely found one to be truly
useful as anything but an icebreaker at a party.





After a couple of summer camps in Colby
Kansas where Teresa Morgan and I set out to prove the usefulness of iPod
Touches as learning devices. I was starting to see a new vision of the
role these devices might play in education. During that camp we seemed
to have two kinds of projects going on. Some projects were made of paper
and found objects and others were centered around performance using the
iPods. I believe that I could not easily see and design around the
confluence of digital and analogue tools at that time and the products
of my approach to a creative camp showed it.





Youtube and Podcasts became game
changers in my mind over the next year because I started seeing and
trying to gauge the value of hand held devices like iPods as instruction
collectors, or libraries of learning possibility. I was struck by the
many ways educators could deliver learning to the palm of kidsí hands
and started publishing on Youtube to experiment with the creation,
distribution and consumption elements of this phenomenon.





I had moved to an iPhone which had
quickly rendered my iPod Touch obsolete. Itís camera and built in mic
one-upped the Touch and the formerly useful device found itís way to the
bottom of my bag. I was using the phone to take all of the pictures and
short videos that once required me to carry a separate camera . My bag
was getting lighter.





The idea of distribution was my central
focus for the better part of a year and I wanted to help schools design
their own podcasts or channels on Youtube so they could offer help to
struggling students or students who wanted to learn more in other
places, after hours. Schools often grew nervous at the mention of
Youtube and in those days it was hard to get many of them to move
forward on the Youtube terrain.





Podcasts were an easier sell and many
schools had either made a few themselves or heard of other schools who
were experimenting with distributing learning resources this way. An RSS
(really simple syndication) feed had much utility in diseminating newly
created resources and iPods were natural born collectors of these
resources. It was a ball and glove, letís play pitch construct but I
still wasnít thrilled with the ways a learner could throw the ball back.
Distribution alone is like old AM radio. You could listen to all the
programs you wanted but talking back to the creator might just mean
talking to yourself. Kids and parents needed to know that they could
comment on the posts and that schools wanted interaction to help shape
the content in the future.





I got my first Android based HTC phone a
couple of years after getting my forst iPhone and I have to admit to
being dubious of itís quality or value. To really give the phone a fair
shake I would have to have a stroke and forget all of my growing and
learning to love my iPhone. I cursed the device for not being an iPhone
and not getting the porche model with a big screen was a mistake. 44
year old eyes donít cotton to a device that requires a Clint Eastwood
squint every time you interact with it.





What I was coming to love about the
Android and a Verizon contract was accessibility. The iPhone was far
superior in terms of user interface and overall user experience but all
of that didnít count for as much on my trips to South Dakota where
AT&T service was all but non-existent. The iPhone had it all over
the HTC in big cities but in the wild, the HTC and Verizon were my only
means of connecting to the world.





As I struggled to learn the nuanced
differences between the two hand held communicative computers, the need
for connectivity forced me to use the HTC more often. I started liking
this phone more and more and this is when my focus went back to
distribution. Iíd been looking as apps as distribution devices and
wanted to explore the idea of creating one, for both platforms.





My friend John Jones aquainted me with the iSites company and the idea of outsourcing the creation of some apps intrigued me. I visited their site and added the RSS feed of my ArtSnacks Youtube channel
and had a simulation of my app in minutes. For $99 a year they create
your code, add your RSS feed and submit it to the Android Market and the
iTunes store for you. Our graphic design maven Lori Fast created icon
art and a splash launch page as well as a app header for each of them
and I published two apps with them that week.





With the dashboard provided by iSites I
could monitor downloads on both platforms and track which episodes were
most popular. I began to see having an app that provided extended
learning services as a strong tool that schools could add to their bag
of services.





About this time I purchased my first iPad.
I got the device on the day of release and took a picture with the Fed
Ex guy to memorialize the moment. I know the iPad would be a game
changer and not simply because it was an Apple product. The combination
of a bigger screen, a touch screen, thousands of useful apps and a user
interface that scared neither Grandma or grandson meant that the laptop
may become a dead man walking soon.





It was a big, usable iPhone and I
started moving toward the cloud immediately. Because storage was so dear
on the device I knew that the idea of killing my junk-drawer hard drive
approach needed to come to an end. I started organizing my photos
online for easy retrieval. In the past Iíd dumped my files for safe
keeping but saved them in ways that ensured they would be nearly
impossible to find later.





I began experimenting with apps in a
larger way, prompted by some assertions from other people in my field
that iPads were merely consumption devices. I agreed that they were
amazing consumption devices and wandered what was wrong with consumption
since it was the main way kids learned in analogue classrooms. To be
truly transformation I thought that creation and creativity had to be
possible and easy using the device.





I started with musical instrument apps
like guitar because I was most comfortable with teaching guitar. I
thought that if I could find a guitar app and actually play it with
control and a little finesse that we might be looking at a creation
device. I thought that if you could play a song on an iPad it would
follow that a virtual instrument that allows you to play a song with
fidelity show also allow you to write one. I came to love apps like Pocket Guitar, iShred and Drum Meister and practicing playing and singing with them regularly.





Alongside this activity I was also drawing with some of the art apps like ArtStudio
to see how artistic I could be. The short answer is, there was no
limit. I could draw with control and finesse with a number of these apps
and send the product of my effort to anyone with one click. I think the
people who have difficulty seeing iPods, iPads, Androids and other
devices as creation tools are looking at the creative process, the act
of creation too narrowly. The device itself isnít the entire act. It
might in some cases be the canvas, in others be the studio, in others be
the means of distribution.





The act of creation is much more than
the palette or the brush. Seeing these devices as tools that can aid
creation is a more balanced way to look at them and I continue to
experiment personally and watch as teachers and students find their way
toward creating and learning with them.





Two weeks ago I acquired a Samsung
Galaxy Tablet and my world is changing again. Much like my positive
experience with the iPad because of itís bigger screen, the Galaxy Tabís
bigger screen has wooed me anew. Suddenly I noticed a superior web
experience on this Android based device. It seems made to deliver the
full web but it didnít always deliver it properly due to a sometimes
misalignment between the device and some websites. There is a need to
scroll frequently and itís obvious that this is a problem and might be
for some time. I suspect that future, more full szed Android tablets
with deliver the web in a more native, iPad like way. The device is half
the size of the iPad which is nice because it fits neatly in one hand
and also in a suit jacket pocket. Your fingertips are on one side as
your thumb safely cradles the other. I will say that the price point for
the Galaxy, ) over $600 after service) is a bit high for a device with
half the screen real estate of the iPad.





What Iím rushing to do now is find
useful, quality apps for the Galaxy. I search the Android Market for the
same quality apps Iíve come to expect from the iTunes store and I find
this process frustrating. The same democratic process that allows any
app to enter Androidís Market means that many, many, many terrible apps
that barely work, live right beside the best apps. Do five stars mean
this is a great app or do they mean that the developers have lots of
friends. I know great apps are in there and I have found a few but I
want an easy way to know whatís prime and whatís junk.





I was angry when my first two apps were
rejected by the iTunes store, OK I was spitting mad but I also know my
apps were freshman efforts that were perfactly priced as FREE. I think
the control Apple exercises with their store ensures a quality of
experience no matter where you come down on the democracy vs autocracy
debate.





Iím enjoying learning with my Galaxy
Tab, iPhone, iPad and HTC but am feeling overwhelmed as I strive to
remain agnostic with regard to devices. I want to study the bigger
picture of distribution, creation, learning and collaboration via any
hand held, connected device so I think the cost of admission is not
marrying a single platform. What has become clear is that fatigue in a
new form is setting in and is becoming a familiar copilot.





Digital Limb Fatigue
is what Iím calling it and it results from the constant introduction of
new digital limbs to the organic systems of the brain. There is a
learning curve to endure as we add new functionalities, no matter how
useful and transformative those functionalities my be.


Learning to use each new device and to
extract the intended value from them is akin to being in physical
therapy. I often have to learn to do basic things, using limbs that
donít yet know how to be used my me.





What is comforting to me as I navigate
what from the outside might look like a geeky wonderland is that most
people will choose very few limbs and become athletes using them. The
challenge to a person who does what I do it that I have to try many of
them to become well versed enough to advise others whoíve not yet chosen
the limbs they will use. There are moments of jubilation, followed my
the realization that I will need to be clumsy with a new limb until I
learn to walk and then run with it.




It would be so easy to tell people that
one kind of limb is best and to steer them toward the one that I am most
comfortable with but the realist in me knows that this would not be
fair. Itís a lot like the challenge I regularly issue to teachers to
move out of their comfort zone and do what is necessary to help learners
where they really live. So what is the best device? I think the best
device is the one that works best for you. The limbs you choose that
allow you to be the the best learning athlete are the best. The limbs
your kids choose that work best for them are the best. A combination of
devices is for some people the best recipe because different devices
transmit different personal strengths and talents. I think that
maintaining an open mind and choosing from a buffet of tools keeps us
most flexible in our work helping learners. The cost of this approach is
constant learning but I think that is also a benefit.
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kevinh
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Post Count : 24
Age : 52
Registration date : 2008-07-13

http://kevinhoneycutt.org

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