Archive for the ‘iPod in Education’ Category

True, mobile devices work well across the curriculum.  Much time as been spent in this “iPods in Education” series on uses as they relate to Language Arts or geography instruction.  This time, I’d like to branch out and look at some uses in science.  While I myself am not an expert in the field, I find the possibilities so exciting that I feel the need to add a bit to the conversation about using mobile devices in science instruction.

Firstly, I go to the apps.  There are so many apps, both pay and free, that add a richer dimension to the study of science.  Here are a sampling of a few of the free apps:

1) Mitosis (free): An app allowing students to learn more about cell division.  The app contains text, audio, images and video for a rich and differentiated learning experience.

2) Planets (free): This app is simple but marvelous.  It allows students to learn more about the night sky through an interactive view of the night sky.  This app uses GPS to locate the whereabouts of the user to give them a view of what the sky should look like for them at that moment – both in 2D and in 3D.  As a result, the app is currently only built for the iPhone and iPad.

3) Google Earth (free): Ultimate mapping app.  You all know it – it is a great app to use to learn concepts like land formations, land use, altitude, longitude/lattitude, etc.).

4) Molecules (free): This app allows students and teachers to view 3D models of molecules and to obtain relevant information about the molecule shown. Not a static app – new molecules can be continuously downloaded and viewed.

5) Science Glossary (free): This app includes a glossary of scientific terms and short biographies of key scientific figures in human history.

In addition, there are the built in apps that can be utilized during study:

  • scientific calculator
  • notes app
  • camera for capturing images or recording results of experiments (iPhone only but sure to come to the iPod Touch soon)
  • Voice notes for recording notes or observations in a different way
  • GPS

There are many digital tools that students can utilize that can assist them in their scientific learning.  Please use the comments field to add your own apps and tips for using an iPod in the teaching/learning of science.


Here are 10 of the more recent articles and blog posts that I have read concerning mobile learning. Links to the other 3 lists can be found at the bottom of this blog post.

1) 5 Steps to Harnessing the Power of Cell Phones in Education Today: This blog post provides 5 ways that teachers can begin using cell phones in their classrooms to help their students learn.

2) 7 Things You Should Know About Mobile Apps for Learning: An article by Educase discussing the value of mobile apps in teaching and learning.

3) Kids More Likely to Own a Cell Phone Than a Book, Study Finds: A ReadWriteWeb article discussing a study on today’s ownership trends.

4) Full Interview: Marie Bjerede on cell phones in the classroom: A podcast episode from CBC’s “Spark”

5) 50 Fun iPhone Apps to Get Kids Reading and Learning: This blog post provides links to iPhone apps that can be utilized for student learning.

6) Augmented Reality Explained by Common Craft: A look at a technology that is sure to shape the future of learning.

7) Cellphonometry: Can Kids Really Learn Math From Smartphones?: An article discussing Project K-Nect where teachers used smartphones to help in the teaching of mathematics

8) Bonus Poscast: Jesse at TEDx: Jesse Brown from TVO’s Search Engine talks about digital comics in the classroom.

9) 12 Interesting Ways to Use an iPod Touch in the Classroom: A google docs page providing various tips on utilizing an iPod Touch for Learning.

10) Why Mobile Innovation is Blowing Away PC’s: A Techcrunch article comparing innovation trends between mobile devices and PC and a discussion about why mobile will surpass PC’s.

Links to the other 3 reading lists:

Mobile Learning: A Brief Reading List

Mobile Learning: Another Brief Reading List

Mobile Learning: A 3rd Reading List

Using an iPhone as a musical device is an interesting application of a cell phone.  While known as a music player designed to allow users to consume music, developers have created apps that can transform the iPhone  into a musical device to create music as well.  One iPhone app that makes this possible is Ocarina, an app that transforms the iPhone into an ancient flute-like instrument.  Sensitive to both touch and breath, this app allows users to play and create music on the iPhone.  This, however, is not the only way to use an iPhone as a musical device.  Two years ago, I posted this blog post showing other apps that allow an iPhone to be transformed into other musical instruments.

The video below profiles experiments being conducted at Stanford University in using a mobile device such as an iPhone/iPod Touch to create a mobile phone orchestra.

Two articles (links provided at the end of this post) have stirred my reflective attention toward the use of an iPod or iPod Touch with Kindergarten students. I have tended to venture away from discussing the use of mobile devices for learning for children of pre-school or Kindergarten age.  Despite the countless number of videos on Youtube of children as young as 1 or 2 using an iPhone or iPod Touch with ease, I am still unsure of where digital technology fits in the molding of young minds at those foundational times in their lives.

As this blog obviously demonstrates, I am very much a proponent of using mobile and digital devices to help students learn.  I firmly believe that these devices help students learn in ways that are difficult or impossible without them.  I see these devices as ways to add complexity to learning and to allow more flexibility in terms of time and location.  However, as with everything in life, there are limits to the effectiveness of the tools we use.  When it comes to using digital tools for abstract learning and for collaborative communication, I’m all for it. However, I’m unsure when it comes to using digital technology for children who are still learning to develop basic brain and body function.

Here is my concern: digital technology, for all it’s attempts to incorporate the use of multiple senses, is invariably a visual tool.  Over-stimulating visual perception and awareness on a screen while under-stimulating other form sensory development make me a bit uneasy.  Humans are very much visual creature but we are also physical creatures as well. This issue reminds me of the John Wyndham novel The Day of the Triffids.  That novel depicts the dire concequences to humanity when the cultivation of a potentially deadly crop (a form of plant creature) and an unknown cosmic event combine to rob humanity of it one evolutionary advantage – sight.  When humans can no longer see, they become victim to this plant creature who now have the evolutionary advantage over humans.

While it is true that it is better to have a child actively engaged with an iPod that passively watching TV (whether at home or in an automobile), and while it is also true that there are many apps available that can begin to teach children at an early age, what is also true is that the devices cannot provide the experiences necessary for socialization or teach gross motor skills that physical activity can.

Therefore, when it comes to very young children, the use of an iPod can be very useful as these devices are easy to use, they are resource heavy and they are engaging.  Any video of a child playing with an iPhone/iPod Touch demonstrates this fact.  However, they need to be used carefully and in combination with other tools of learning.  While an iPod can do a better job than traditional tools with the parts of learning that involve access to information and collaborative communication, these forms of learning are best used after the foundational development has already taken place.  I’m not sure an iPod can replace blocks, balls and crayons when it comes to the physical development of the child or the experiences of physical social interaction.  Nor, I think, was it designed for this.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  I am interested to know what others think about this topic.


“An iPhone in Every Crib, An App for Every Toddler” – The Globe and Mail

“iTouch and Kindergarten – An Intro” – Blog post @ Edu-(Tech)niques

In discussing the use of mobile devices, it is easy to forget that the educational and productive power of mobile devices comes through the integration of the devices with other tools. The mobile device, after all, is a hardware tool that makes certain tasks possible but the actualization of those tasks ultimately depends on the use of software or web tools. Let’s take a look at some ways the hardware and software, including web software and apps, can come together to actualize learning outcomes. I realize that when I make reference to apps, it tends to imply the use of an iPhone or iPod Touch. In fact, all the ideas mentioned below are possible on an iPod Touch with free or very inexpensive apps – the links provided all point to the iTunes store.  That having been said, this reality is changing quickly with the likes of Palm, RIM and Microsoft also developing a marketplace and vendor space for apps that will increase and improve the availability of learning app for students.

iPhone and WritingMobile Devices and Literacy

  • Differentiating reading activities by allowing students to listen to audio books
  • Accessing digital texts on their mobile devices so that students can read wherever they find themselves
  • Connect to the internet, through either WiFi or other means, to express ideas on a blog post (i.e. through the WordPress app) or to collaborate with peers through a wiki

Mobile Devices and Numeracy

  • For younger children, the utilization of apps that provide drill and practice or flash cards to develop basic mathematical skill
  • Use of calculators of various forms: regular calculator, scientific calculator or graphing calculator
  • Even publishers such as Pearson have apps that help students learn important concerns such as this app for the study of Algebra

Mobile Devices and Science

Mobile Devices and Social Studies

  • Utilize mapping software such as Google Earth or Google maps to identify important locations of cities or monuments and then access the street view feature in Google Maps to see actual images of location in question
  • Accessing historical maps or apps of historical artwork for the study of historical ideology and patterns of thought
  • Reading historical literature such including fiction and non-fiction texts

Mobile Devices and International Languages

  • There are a plethora of apps that deal with the study of various languages that are both free and come with a cost – a simple search will provide an extremely wide variety of choice

Many argue that mobile devices are a distraction and I agree.  While others may argue that this distraction is not productive, I would argue that by harnessing the tools in the right way using the right apps, the distraction will be away from mundane paper and pencil tasks and toward more exciting, multi-sensory learning.

Here is a follow-up to the first two mobile learning reading lists:  The first one is here and the second one is here.

1) 7 Things You Should Know About Augmented Reality – An EDUCASE learning article about this newest of learning technologies and the implications of Augmented Reality to teaching and learning.

2) Augmented Reality Reaveals Histroy to Tourists: A short article demonstrating what is possible with mobile devices and what the future has in store.

3) Smartphones: The Ultimate Conversation Killer – A Globe and Mail newspaper article arguing that smartphones, rather than connecting people, actually kill conversation.

4) Teens and Mobile Over the Past Five Years – A PEW Internet article looking how mobile use amoung teens had evolved over the past five years.

5) How to Create Rapid and Cheap Mobile Learning – Text Messaging – A blog post filled with practical ideas in using text messaging to enhance learning.

6) Back to School: 10 iPhone Apps for Students–  A Mashable blog post.  The title says it all.

7) 100 Free iPhone Apps That Will Make You Smarter – This truly is a subjective list but I present it here as it is a long list and you will likely be able to find a few jems.

8) 50 Fun iPhone Apps to Get Kids Reading and Learning – The iPhone and iPod Touch can be both a entertainment and learning device.  This list provides a list of apps to help support and encourage reading and learning.

9) Why Cloud Computing is the Future of Mobile – A ReadWriteWeb article delving into how continuous connection to the Internet through a mobile device will lead to more reliance and acceptance of web apps.

10) Are Cellphones the Next Paper and Pencil – a user forum where educators and other interested parties discuss the implications and the future of cell phones in learning.

Here is a video of how one teacher (who was fortunate enough to obtain a full class set if iPod Touch devices) is using new technologies with 8 year old children to help them learn.  This video raises a number of questions for me: What lesson can we learn from this?  What is the role of experimentation of new methodologies in the classroom? Who is the ultimate driving force behind initiating such a change?

To play the video, click on the video itself or on the”click to play” link located immediately below the video.

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