Lots of great things coming out of Google in the next year. We saw Google Music. We know about Honeycomb and more about Ice Cream Sandwich. Watch the entire video from the I/O Conference to hear about them and more:
So we all know tablets possess the ‘wow factor’ for students. You definitely earn their interest and engagement with using them. But the argument goes on–are tablets (and iPads) for content consumption or content creation? If the former, then I really do not see the need to spend lots of money buying a bunch of tablets if they can just watch videos, browse websites, and play drill-n-kill games. But, if on the other hand, we can find ways where students can apply the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and really use higher level thinking skills, then let’s open the checkbook.
Apparatus appears to be an app that will allow you to create and/or evaluate content. In the app (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.bithack.apparatuslite), you receive a challenge to move marbles to a goal. You must then build a simple machine to complete the task. It allows you to make levers, bridges, use motors, and a variety of other things to complete the goal. I can definitely see a class with a few tablets with this app on. The teacher can divide kids in groups, and monitor their work, as the game will provide feedback as well. Definitely would be a good real-world feedback of the principles behind simple machines.
So Amazon’s free app o’ the day recently was Majesty, a fantasy kingdom simulation game. Similar to The Sims, the popular simulation game and similar to the Battle of Wesnoth, a Linux fantasy sim game, Majesty is definitely worth a look for a classroom. Years ago, while in the classroom, I regularly allowed groups of students to play Roller Coaster Tycoon. They obviously loved the game, but I felt that the game taught them about teamwork (they worked in small groups), finances, planning, and many more things. We usually did not use regular class time for this, but during silent reading time, the end of the day, etc.
So Majesty could definitely help teach the same things. You run a kingdom and must purchase Warriors, Rangers, Wizards, run a blacksmith and marketplace, all while presented with a task on each level of destroying villainous lairs. It definitely engrosses you, I can blow a few hours playing it before noticing how much time passed. Again, just like The Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon, you refine some higher-level thinking skills, such as teamwork, planning, and evaluation of what types of ‘upgrades’ to use your money on. More money into the library to upgrade your spells or more at the Castle so to collect more tax money.
With all the tablets out there, I can definitely see this as a good suggestion. In our district, we are really trying to find where tablets fit, and with some of these type games, I do see their place. An enterprising teacher could even teach some economics, medieval history, and literature using the game as the hook. It only takes some planning for the teacher as well…
So Google finally decided to release it’s own cloud-music service. Unfortunately at this time most people can only download the music playing app, without access to their beta. So, with services like Amazon’s Cloud Player, why even need Google Music? Just some different sounding functions like:
- caching recently played music on your devices when offline–I like this–even in 2011 you may not always find decent wifi/3G/4G
- once your music is online, you always have access to it, playlists as well
- advanced playlist management and creation
- one media collection to update–that, I like!
For now, the beta will be free. I can see a monthly or yearly fee on this. For the convenience, I would pay $50-100 a year. All I need is the invite–come on Google!!!
So you use phones/tablets all the time and possess a great idea for an app for school use or personal use, but just cannot figure out how to make it. What to do? Well, you can use the Android App Inventor (appinventor.googlelabs.com/), a great, Creative Commons playground for Android apps. Let’s say, for some reason, you lost your mind and want to also create for Apple…what to do then? With that, you can look at the online creator AppsBar (http://www.appsbar.com).
With AppsBar, you choose either Apple or Android, and then begin creating with pretty simple step-by-step directions. I started creating a running app called iMarathon (get it??). So you can find LOTS of running apps out there, that will keep up with your runs with GPS and a bunch of other things. What I want is just an app to let me enter data about a run into, and maybe, down the road, use the GPS. So I began. Pretty easy so far, just clicking through the screens, choosing images and titles. Very easy to navigate controls, you see in the image it looks like a simple word processing document. I did not yet finish, but I will continue to work at it and see the process.
The process is what I think is important. Whether you are a teacher looking to create an app for your class or want to provide the opportunity to students to create their own, AppsBar is a good first step. I can see summer camps set up to allow students the opportunities to create apps and experiment. In our district we hold camps on Robotics, animation, and GPS, so I can so see this fitting in well. Maybe next year…