Tag Archives: apps

The Twitter Teacher or Teaching Twitter

On November 23, a #tfwf14 classmate of mine, @hamilt35, posted an article on twitter. “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” by “The Irish Times.” As I have discussed the importance of “Zite” in my prior blog post “Educational Innovations,” here is another example of it’s asset to education. This article was posted on an Irish news website, on November 22, 2014, and without “Zite,” would have never made it to my computer screen. Zite is not the only application providing a positive academic resource, Twitter is also implemented into classrooms all around the world.
Teachers are learning how to shape their curriculum around new technologies that their students are using. This process helps teachers engage their student’s conscious effort, attention, and participation. Any college student in Rowan Universities’ Introduction to Writing Arts course, #tfwf14 #tfebt, could explain how Twitter can be used as an academic asset and an educational resource. Now, there is evidence world wide of Twitter’s positive influence on a classroom, as well as, the student’s success.
The article “Classroom innovators: the Twitter teacher,” explains the process of how Twitter can be utilized in an academic setting. “For a typical class, groups of students are asked to research a topic online and then to start tweeting facts in chronological order. He monitors quality, deleting misspelt or out-of-sequence tweets. He then uses Storify to grade and document the tweets. The groups have a sense of researching like historians, he says.” His lessons are structured around the established use of Twitter in the classroom. This creates a positive way for students to use their cellphones in class, therefore, combining the educational information of the History class with the common interests of the students. Essentially providing an efficient way for teachers to obtain their student’s effort and dedication.
Porter and DeVoss express the influence of new technology on writing. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Twitter influences student’s writing in the classroom. Instead of writing their notes on paper, the chalk board, or typing them on a computer, Twitter has provided an user friendly interface. The respond rate is almost instantaneous, allowing students to observe their classmates ideas. Twitter remediates word documents, pen and paper, and even the chalk board, because the teacher and students can read and respond to the individual comment, or post. Bolter defines remediation as “homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Twitter and Zite are two new educational applications, that offer an academic resource for students of ages. Implementing student’s interests into a lesson plan can derive enveloped participation and academic success.

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Educational Innovations

I was recently introduced to a new educational technology, “Zite.” Zite now has an influence on my research processes. This application is an academic resource for discovering and obtaining new educational information. For me, it has replaced news websites, and television channels. What is Bolter’s ideology of remediation and new technologies? “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23). Zite offers a user friendly interface, based on educational and personal interests important to the individual. Therefore, Zite essentially eliminates aimless scrolling and wasted time. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need more hours in a day?

I probably would have never read this article if it wasn’t for Zite. I did not have to research websites or search engines, I just opened my Zite application on my iPhone and there it was. On November 19, 2014, Keith Sawyer published an article titled, “Ten Educational Innovations To Watch For In The Next Ten Years.”
“Education experts at the Open University (UK) led by Professor Mike Sharples, have identified ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.” (Sawyer). The influence on education is existent, but not defined. According to Porter and DeVoss, “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Though the technologies educational resources and academic assets are not yet evident, it does not mean that they will never be.

Ten Educational Innovations:

1.) Massive open social learning: social networking

2.) Learning design informed by analytics: “design and analytics work together to support the development of successful learning and teaching.”

3.) Flipped classrooms: Video lectures, allow students to work at their pace, pausing to make notes when necessary.

4.) Burn your own devices: “teachers become managers of technology-enabled networked learners, rather than providers of resources and knowledge.”

5.) Learning to learn: Web tools/activities such as reflective journals and concept mapping support learning to learn.

6.) Dynamic assessment: The assessor interacts with students during testing, ways to overcome each person’s current learning difficulties.

7.) Event based learning: “do it yourself science” engineering and crafts projects

8.) Learning through storytelling: Developing a narrative to create a meaningful whole

9.) Threshold concepts: a new way of thinking about a problem, a subject or the world.

10.) Bricolage: a practical process of learning through tinkering with materials. Learning through play.

Disney Creatively Inspires Learning

On December 4, 2014, Brooks Barnes of The New York Times, posted an article titled “Disney to Introduce New Apps Focused on Learning.” To a college student studying new technologies influence on writing, learning, and education, this title jumped off the page, and captivated my attention. However, due to my current use of new literary technologies, this metaphor is relatively obsolete. Now I have to say, jumped off the “screen,” because the article by Barnes was not posted in The New York Times newspaper. It was posted on The New York Times website, with no subscription or purchase necessary. If this is not supporting evidence of technologies influence on writing, than what is?

The New York Times website is an evident example of technological remediation. Defined by Bolter, “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Do The New York Times’ online articles improve their newspaper? If I were to answer this question I would say absolutely. The networking capabilities of the Internet created an efficient and accessible news station. Ask my grandfather the same question and he won’t dignify a response. Though there are assets and complications to both sides of the news publishing processes, the importance lies with The New York Times “implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23).

As well as The New York Times, Disney has had an essential influence on the public for multiple generations. Disney’s’ intentions to implement positive learning applications are similar to the progressional effort of The New York Times, and the creation of their website. They should not be viewed negatively, and according to Barnes, “Disney Publishing Worldwide unveiled a technology-driven learning initiative called Disney Imagicademy. Aimed at families with children aged 3 to 8.” The use of technology has substantially increased in children, and Disney is taking a positive advantage by providing a “learning” resource. “The media conglomerate is being careful to describe the initiative as learning and not educational,” due to “harshly criticized marketing claims tied to its Baby Einstein line.” (Barnes). Porter and DeVoss offer some support for Disney’s effort. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (page 195).

Disney’s application’s “significant impact on basic literacy” is yet to be defined. Though there intentions are clearly positive and progressional. Barnes explains, “Disney developed Imagicademy in conjunction with advisers like Douglas H. Clements, an expert on early childhood mathematics from the State University of New York at Buffalo.” “Imagicademy will include more than 30 app-based “experiences” centered on various subjects – math, science, language arts, emotional and social skills.” (Barnes).There are a vast variety of applications available to children, and Disney is trying to provide an app. that derives a learning process from it’s users. An unsurmountable amount of applications need parents to consciously consider the hindering interference they have on their child’s education and ability to learn. Bolter explains that the effort of improvement is the important property (page 23). “This is a substantial commitment,” Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products, said in an interview.” (Barnes). Disney’s conscious effort and commitment is clear. Imagicademy, was developed based on “learning,” and should be the last application ridiculed, as well as, accused of deceit.

iWrite Words: The Handwriting App

As a iwritefuture educator, I am always on the lookout for creative ways to make learning fun for    my future students. With the Common Core‘s heavy presence in the classroom, various forms  of  writing instruction are crucial. Today, technology is so natural to children and is becoming  more popular  in the classroom, so being able to incorporate technology into writing  instruction will be extremely beneficial for the students while making learning fun.

In preschool and kindergarten classrooms, it is important to have the students practice forming uppercase and lowercase letters. Understanding that children must begin to write letters and numbers by tracing them first is key.

The app iWrite Words is something that can be used to do just this! iWrite Words is available on iPads, iPhones and iPods, and is an excellent way to get children interested and involved with the early stages of the writing process both inside and outside of the classroom.

iWrite Words helps to teach kids how to write the letters of the alphabet, numbers up to 20, and simple words using tracing. While it does help if kids already know how to count and read numbers up to 10 in order to play this game, this app can teach children the basics of letters. This app is available in English, French and Italian, making it a great for dual language learners, too.  After the child traces the letter or number, they hear a cheer, then see their actual handwriting appear based off of how they traced the letter.

This app has received rave reviews which include, “The whole app is delightful to behold. Bright background colors are juxtaposed against equally bright and scribbly child-like artwork that convey the word being spelled. You and your child will enjoy tracing your finger along those necessary building blocks of language. With its memorable artwork and way cool physics engine, it is sure to entertain and teach your child,” and many more.

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The next time you are searching for the perfect new app to introduce or reinforce the basics of writing, keep iWrite Words in mind for your preschool and kindergartners.

*This app is available on iTunes for $2.99.

The Six Seconds Heard from Around the World

Vine is a phenomenon that is both fast and funny, two characteristics that our culture has grown to become extremely fond of.

If you have not yet experienced the whirlwind that is Vine, let me expose it to you: click here for 6 seconds of entertainment

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See? Wasn’t that fun? It was fast so you can get back to your hectic life and it also produced a little chuckle. You’re not the only one who thinks it was fun; an article called “Six Seconds of Loopy Creativity and Millions of Fans” by the New York Times praises Vine and comments on how it is taking over the public’s feeds. Instead of going to Instagram or Twitter, users are choosing Vine for a multitude of reasons. First of all, Vine combines YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter in a more user-friendly way. Instead of watching a 5 minute video on YouTube, users are getting the punchline 10x faster. Instead of sifting through tweets, users are getting the main idea immediately. Instead of seeing a picture, users are experiencing the action.

The article by the New York Times describes Vine as “the early web- low stakes, raw, and full of reckless abandon”  and the author is exactly right. Vine users will complete any task, no matter how ridiculous, in order to entertain viewers. In fact, the phrase “do it for the Vine” has become popular due to the Vine’s infamous actions.

Vine is just an example of how apps are in competition to gain titles such as craziest, most creative, or wildest. Notice, however, that has been a competition amongst apps. The Web, on the other hand, is slowly losing its following. It is a common mistake for users to believe spending hours on Vine, Instagram, or Pandora is considered “surfing the Web”; in an article I tweeted called “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet” by Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, the authors describe how Apps not only differentiate from the Web, but they are also are taking over. Although the switch from Web to Internet is not conscious or aggressive, it is surely happening. It’s not the Web’s fault, apps are just becoming more and more prominent in today’s society.

I mean, look at the difference between using Google and using Instagram:

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In a world where apps such as Vine literally thrive off fun and entertainment, Google.com simply can’t compete.

Wattpad: The Story of How Stories Became Stored

A recent App called, Wattpad has taken the world of writing and reading by storm. In order to fully understand what this app is capable of, I will review the app in the perspective of new user.

The homepage of Wattpad looks a little something like this:

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It is both clean and simple. A user can either log in using Facebook, or use an e-mail address to sign up; all in all, it takes about 30 seconds to create and account with WattPad.

Next, the app will ask you pick a variety of your favorite reading genres, which will look like this:

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The format, once again, is extremely quick and clean. Users have the ability to pick as many or as few genres as they wish. This is a quality feature when the user wants either variety or focus.

Based off the genre users picked, the app will generate multiple stories for the user to enjoy.

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The instructions are straightforward and allows users to enjoy a variety of different works of any type of genre. On the app, users can scroll through their “library” and pick a title to read. It’s kind of ironic how a library, once associated with the imagery of an abundance of books, has become a collection of virtual goods.

Once a user settles on a book title, a couple of screens will pop up:

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These two screens demonstrate the main point of the app. On the left, is a piece of work found in a collection of poetry. On the right, the app offers the author, comments, suggestions, and sharing. Adding the comment/liking feature allows users to offer their perspective on the work, which is a nice spin for a literary app. Instead of just reading a poem, users can share opinions and ask/offer help. Another progressive feature of this app is the suggestion category. In order to broaden horizons, suggestions to other writers is extremely helpful. Lastly, the social media aspect of this app is helpful to both writers and readers. If a user posts a poem to Facebook, the user’s friends will have the ability to discover new works.

The social media of this aspect has two sides. While the influence of social media is positive in some respects, ethics should definitely be considered while reviewing this app. While Apps usually don’t resonate with words like  “ethics”, an article called “Why Napster matters to writing: Filesharing as a new ethic of digital delivery” by Danielle DeVoss and James Porter, explains why public sharing is an ethical issue. It is mentioned in the article that “digital filesharing forms the basis for a new ethic of digital delivery, an ethic that should lead us to reconsider our policies regarding plagiarism and that, in general, we should consider when developing digital composition pedagogies.” Copyright becomes an extremely prominent issue in the world of apps; it is becoming easier and easier to steal ideas from authors due to the open forum of apps. With the Wattpad, there are a couple of issues when it comes to the delivery of ethics. While the app itself gives credit where credit is due, the sharing features make it extremely easy for users to steal work. The blame in this situation is a bit ambiguous since Wattpad does an excellent job of giving credit to authors. The problem is that users are sharing works via social media; while the authors are getting credit for their works, it is freely passed along for anyone to see.

This App combines Facebook, Twitter, Kindle, Messanger, and E-mail all into one. Not only does it provide stories based off the users’ interests, but it also provides a social media service. Combining multiple different mediums into one is an example of remediation, which is an idea mentioned in an article called “Writing as Technology” by Jay Bolter. The creators of this app made it possible to blend social media with literature and writing, which is a significant advancement in the worlds of technology and literacy.

All in all, for a free app, I think that this app is definitely worth a download. It allows users to discover, share, and explore the world of literacy in a fun and easy way.