Thanks to Kevin Trainor for pointing this out: GoodReader has added vga output to their application!

If you have tried projecting from your iPad you already know that there are very few things that you can actually project. That is, you can’t simply plug your iPad in and have all screens display. Keynote slideshows, yes; web pages in Safari, no.

It was with great delight, then, to discover that GoodReader, the pdf and file reading app ($2.99) can not only project pdf, html, doc, and text files but can also project web pages. You can use the “Browse the Web” feature, go to a web page, and display the results. Not only that, you can go to a site like Blackboard and display it but you can also edit your course.

Cathy Davidson of HASTAC has written a sensible article in response to the recent flurry of gloom and doom reactions to how the internet is ruining our brains. She also has a book forthcoming: “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn”

It’s sensible because she reminds us that much of what is happening is not neurophysiological but sociological, and because she is more interested in what we do now than in bemoaning how we have gotten here. Here’s an example:

“Do kids pay attention differently now? No. Because they didn’t learn any other way of paying attention. Do they pay attention differently than their parents did? Probably. And their parents paid attention differently than theirs.  The brain is always changed by what it does.  That’s how we learn, from infancy on, and that’s how a baby born in New York has different cultural patterns of behavior, language, gesture, interaction, socialization, and attention than a baby born the same day in Beijing. That’s as true for the historical moment into which we are born as it is for the geographical location.  Our attention is shaped by all we do, and reshaped by all we do.  That is what learning is.  The best we can do as educators is find ways to improve our institutions of learning to help our kids be prepared for their future–not for our past.”


The phrase “a computer is just a tool” is often used to suggest that they are neutral, that the choices we make about the technologies we use have no impact on scholarship or teaching. Disagreeing completely with that idea,  I love when such assumptions are challenged as in this thought from Luke at http://lukewaltzer.com/on-edtech-and-the-digital-humanities/:

“Our original focus was on nurturing student-centered learning by merging WAC and WID principles with the possibilities opened up by online publishing, in making more visible the pedagogy (both successful and not) at work in our classrooms, and at supporting an alternative to the proprietary course management system that still predominates across CUNY. Blackboard is itself an embodiment of the university culture that Neary and Winn rightly find so troubling: students cycle through a system that structurally, aesthetically and rhetorically reinforces the notions that education is consumption, the faculty member is a content provider, the classroom is hierarchical, and learning is closed. Less and less though do we have to convince listeners that open source publishing platforms and the many flowers they’ve allowed to bloom can create exciting possibilities in and beyond the classroom; we can show them link after model after link after model after link.”

Mark Sample has posted a list of digital humanities sessions at the upcoming MLA (2011). Topics include distribution of labor in digital humanities, Computational Methods of Literary Research, publishing, research, writing, our online image, and many more.

Cathy Davidson of HASTAC continues to delight with some musings on several Mozilla/HASTAC projects mentioned at the first international Mozilla Drumbeat Festival on “Learning, Freedom, and the Open Web.” Of  interest is the Classroom Organizer, Anne Balsamo’s idea for a tool “that almost instantaneously allows students [in a large enrollment class] to organize by interest-group, preference, or another specialized method in order to pursue a project or an idea in a small group setting.”

Ray Tolley’s blog “eFolios in the UK and Europeon” contains a post that reminds us of the questions an organization should ask “before you launch into implementing ePortfolios at your education institution.”

A new blog, Alternative PhD, has been set up for “Alternative Academics” or those graduate students or post-grads who are following or considering a non-traditional academic path. This seems to be a new theme among digital historians and humanists. As Bethany Nowviskie puts it, these alt-acs (#alt-ac) represent a “broad set of hybrid, humanities-oriented professions centered in and around the academy, in which there are rich opportunities to put deep — often doctoral-level — training in scholarly disciplines to use.” (On a personal note, it’s nice to finally have a tag for for what I’ve been doing for the last 15+ years.)

Is it a book or an app? Yes. Stephen Elliott’s book/app “The Adderall Diaries” blurs the line by combining a built-in online reader’s club with the book.

And last, links to more links: ProfHacker’s Teaching Carnival is a “snapshot of the most recent thoughts on teaching in college and university classrooms.”

The Sustaining Digital History project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants seeks to “build a scholarly community for the practice of the emerging field of digital history.” They hosted a meeting on Oct. 1 to bring together authoirs, peer reviewers and editors of several history journals to “consider the questions of hosting, collecting, imprinting, and indexing digital scholarship…and examine models for incorporating digital scholarship in existing print-based history journals.”

The Chronicle‘s Wired Campus blog has posted an article on the meeting and there is also a blog for the project.

A recent request for ideas on using etext versions of books in the absence of available paper-based versions for a literature course sparked a quick few ideas. The question was framed as “how could students engage in those texts in the same way that they would if they were on paper?” Given our upcoming roundtable on eBooks and eReaders (CTL event) I thought a more challenging question might be “how can we take advantage of the ‘digitalness’ of etexts to engage with them differently.” I thought I’d post a few ideas here both for reference and to generate some more ideas.

So, how would you use etexts in the classroom? Here are some to get started:

1) Annotations: pdf annotating applications let you highlight, add notes, underline, or otherwise mark up pdf files. The annotation feature is free in Preview (the pdf reader that is on every Mac) or there are other free annotation apps for other platforms. Annotations can be useful for student’s own note-taking, or, depending on your class, as a way to share student comments among students or with you.

2) Take advantage of the nature of etexts. While pulling quotes from a text is a longstanding tradition, copy/paste makes this easier. For example, if you traditionally ask students to write a rambling reflection about an entire article, consider asking for a reflection on the portion of the article that resonates most closely with them and have them include the section. This might result in less rambling and more focus.

3) Consider using some text analysis tools. A simple place to start is wordle.org. Paste in a chunk of text and see what words the author uses most frequently. Do any themes emerge? (Or, have them analyze something they have written: do they reuse some words too frequently? )

4) Word search: similar to #3, have students choose a word or words then search for that word through one or more texts. For example, a real question that I researched lately using Google Books: how does Jane Austen’s writing about clothing differ between her novels and her letters? Or, a combination: writer x uses the a particular word frequently. How does that compare to how writer y uses that word? (Compare Emerson and Thoreau for example, or Emerson and Alcott)

5) Wikipedia or blog activities: does the book or its author have a wikipedia page? No? Have the class create one. Is someone ‘out there’ (an individual, another class) blogging about this book or its author? Report on it back to the class, comment on the blog, or otherwise engage with the blog writer. Cross-course conversations can be scintillating.

6) Create a book: if your university uses WordPress for blogging, the students can post their writing there, then, with the help of a plug-in, Anthologize (still in beta but quite useful regardless) (http://anthologize.org/), they can create pdf “books” of selected writing. So, create a class sourcebook of best summaries, or reaction pieces, or resources collected from around the web, or something that can be used (and annotated, etc.) by the next class.

iPad App: inkling

Inkling, a new app and textbook producer, was mentioned recently in the Wired Campus blog from The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Kaya, Travis. “Classroom iPad Programs Get Mixed Response” Sept. 20, 1010)

What is it? An app for buying, reading, and annotating textbooks which includes searching, highlighting, notetaking, and the ability to share those notes online with others. Textbooks, or individual chapters, are purchased through Inkling. They are downloaded to your iPad but can be deleted and restored direct from Inkling.

Positives: beautifully produced books, easy navigation, nice interactivity with self-help sections, slick annotating, includes page number markers that map to print version so that you can reference as needed.

Negatives: very few textbooks currently available, propietary format for books that is not yet public (i.e. you can’t create your own), they are still textbooks with all the pedagogical implications that implies.

Inklings addresses two issues central to academic use: what will textbooks look like in the mobile learning world and, as annotating seems to be a major requirement in any educational app, what standard practices will arise as the “best way” to enable annotating.

Check it out: http://www.inkling.com/about

At the very least you can get a free (abridged) copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.

Thanks to all who attended and contributed. Inés kindly noted the apps that were discussed. Here they are, with links to the web sites for more information. All apps are available through the App Store on your iPad.

Evernote – capture it (notes, web page, photo, screenshot), organize it, find it

NYTimes – Editor’s Choice is the free iPad app (news, business, technology, opinions, arts, features, videos). Other sections available as iPhone/Touch app (will appear small on your iPad screen.

NPR – news, live streams, etc.

Stanza – ebook reader (reads ePub and eReader books, not Kindle books). Links to a library, free and non-free books, free sheet music, can download books purchased from Fictionwise. Can share books from your Mac or Windows version of Stanza.

Kindle – ebook reader. Syncs with your Kindle.

Nook – Barnes&Noble’s ebook reader.

FreeBooks, ePubBooks – more books!

Quick Graph – graphing calculator

Goodreader – for reading all kinds of files, especially PDFs (it will reflow text to fit page). Coming soon in version 3: PDF annotation.

iAnnotate – “integrates its annotations directly into the PDF such that they will be available to any standard PDF readers like Adobe Reader or Preview. You can transfer PDFs via email, iTunes sync or even clicking any PDF web link in the integrated web browser.”

Instapaper – save web pages for later offline reading.

Timae Management apps – mentioned in our session were Things, Easy Task, OmniFocus, and Taska. Several of those, and others, are reviewed here.

DocsToGo – open, read, and edit .doc, .ppt. .xls files; access these files on your iPad, from Google Docs or other online services, or from a folder on your Mac.

DragonDictation – trascribes your voice to text

Penultimate or Boxwave pens – stylus for the iPad

…and a couple that were not, but that I’ve experimented with:

SharePlusLite – connect to your Sharepoint sites

WritePad – handwriting recognition – takes notes with a stylus or finger, save as text

Pandora – access radio stations via your iPad

Atomic Web – another browser, instead of Safari

PadInfo – get stats on your iPad, battery life, etc.

WordPress – access and edit your blog from your iPad (that’s how I wrote this!). WordPress is the new UVM blog tool for public blogging. Check it out at http://blog.uvm.edu

AppShopper – the place to shop for Apps

Did I miss some?  Let me know…

Our first roundtable on the iPad, “iPads for Scholars,” held at the Center for Teaching and Learning, Wednesday, 9/8/2010. As one might expect, the web has been awash with articles, opinions, and comments about the Ipad. Here are a few, from a variety of sources, that address some of the issues and in so doing represent common themes and memes:

Notre Dame Launches First Paperless ‘iPad Class’ - By Timon Singh, Inhabitat, Sept. 7, 2010

How Schools are Putting the IPad to Work - By Joel Mathis (of Macworld), PCWorld, Aug. 26, 2010

iPad: The New Big Gadget on Campus – By Gus G. Sentementes, The Baltimore Sun, Aug. 22, 2010

50 Useful Resources for Students With an iPad – Accredited Online Colleges Blog, July 27, 2010 (links)

Apple’s iPad Goes to College – By Chris Foresman, cnn.com, July 26, 2010

iPad for Education Revisited – By Lee Wilson, The Education Business Blog, June 2, 2010

First iPad University Course: An Interview with Eric Greenburg of Notre Dame – By The eLearning Coach, May 16, 2010

iPad more resources on whether it is any good in the classroom – By David Hopkins, elearning blog don’t waste your time, May 7, 2010 (with links and quotes from others)

University Presses Get Creative in an iPad World – By Hannah Elliott, Forbes.com, May 6, 2010

Will the iPad Revolutionize Higher Education? – By Adam Peck, Think Magazine, April 21, 2010

University to Provide iPads for All New Students – By Lauren Indvik, The Mashable Apple, March 30, 2010

The iPad and the Historian – By Sean Kheraj, Canadian History and Environment, January, 28, 2010

iPads in Education – an ongoing NING with links and comments from many

Wichada Sukantarat of the UVM Library asked Alison Armstrong, Scott Scaheffer and me to put together a panel discussion for the library staff on eBook and eReaders. I was asked to talk about the technical issues, Alison about library service issues,  and Scott about legal issues. In the course of the discussion we and the participants touched on so many of the issues that we are all grappling with as these rapidly changing devices appear.

As the discussion progressed I kept returning to one thought: ebooks are not electronic books. Why say that? A book is a physical object and cultural object with its own history, its own place in our culture, its own rules and assumptions and uses. The way we think about books and interact with them has developed and been shaped by 500 years of practice. When early ebook creators decided to replicate the print book as an ebook they may have thought it would be a simple transfiguration, or that the challenges would have been merely technical (how do you make it readable, how do you make the battery last, how do you create the structure of the text, what about color, etc.). You can see an example of this in the Kindle. If Amazon defines a book as something that people will buy, own, and read from cover to cover, that is quite a different model than a book as a digital object that can be shared, circulated, annotated, copied, broken apart and reconfigured, used in conjunction with other programs, etc.

Yet it has become clear that ebooks are not the sum total of books plus digital. They are their own object, and will  generate their own expectations, assumptions, and practices. While pundits can make claims about what those are, the reality is that these devices are still in flux. At every step in the process assumptions determine the development of an ebook or ereader, then are challenged and must be addressed (both legally and technically), and then the results folded back in to the next development cycle. This certainly makes for a very practical challenge for libraries and universities: just when, and just how, should ebooks/ereaders be introduced?

Several universities and colleges are jumping in, buying ereaders and ebooks, and experimenting with their use in the library or classroom. Some have a plan, and for some the plan is to distribute devices to students and ‘see what happens.’ (Members of university centers for teaching and learning might suggest here that the latter is not always the approach best guaranteed to bring anticipated results!) It is heartening, however, to see that UVM is willing and able to ask the questions and have the conversation.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »