Power on your Brain

11 08 2014

In some way there are similarities between a human being and a mobile device and in particular between an operating system and a human brain.

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In April 2014 Microsoft ended the support of its famous dinosaur, Windows XP. The reason was that it was outdated and any further attempts to keep the machines healthy would be like using temple pillars as the bodywork for a skyscraper.

If we look at human brains, age is a significant factor to cause buggy behavior. Further patches (consequences of experiences) are either incompatible or rejected by the existing operating system, the myriads of connected nerves.

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It needs an innovative basic construction to adapt to changes in the outer world, and so keep the installation requirements up to date. Changes might have their origin in different opinions of fellow human beings or in reading information, understanding the messages, and qualifying them as useful or necessary to overtake.

Steve Jobs
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting. It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Let me give you one example: Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life.

But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
(part of the Commencement Address at Stanford University, 2005)

Some kind of openness (like Open Source Software) is needed to further develop the own personality, knowledge, and imagination.

Technical products have it or don’t have it in their genes which hopefully are designed by forward looking enginieers.

And here we come to the main difference between humans and computers.

Whereas a computer’s main board cannot be changed fundamentally, humans are able to connect the dots in different ways, change the connections, or make connections important or unimportant.

At the end of the day, Microsoft stopped the support for a veteran but it’s up to you to keep on installing patches for your own brain. Just skip incompatibilities, bypass channels, take all other hurdles and you will get the message

‘Successfully installed.’

It doesn’t take a long time and you will recognize significant performance improvements.

Well, you might ask:

What’s the way to get ready for patches and fix some bugs in interactions with others?

Be sure, SIRI won’t support your request. She is quite stupid and that would also if she would be a he. No automated system will ever be a useful guide to discover your brain.

You should start with a mobile device, with which you can walk to different inspiring places, and follow Apple’s famous catchphrase

There’s an app for that.
That’s the iPhone. Solving life’s dilemma one app at a time.

It should be added that using a device is just one side of the coin, but a highly convenient one because there is no need for a rubber. Creativity needs just your brain and your fingers. Regarding your brain, Steve Jobs gave us a hint what’s also needed, an attitude. He used some simple words to express his opinion:

Stay hungry, Stay foolish.
and
Think different.

Note
To avoid any further platform wars between Apples and Androids you also might use Samsung’s Galaxy. It just will be a bit harder to find out the right app in Google’s Play Store.

Apps and devices …

No electronic device is needed to start your project of changing your mind. But it would support your way to go through the many things needed to connect the dots. But only if the little helper stays in the background and there is no need to use further hardware like cables, keyboard, monitor, and mouse. You shouldn’t be bound to any work desk. Ideas come up accidentally and most often a work desk hampers an open-minded approach. Repress the memory of your office environment because it’s only you you should focus on.

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It was Steve Jobs philosophy to focus on what’s important. He and is excellent engineers ported this maxim into the devices, the iPhone and the iPad. The company once explained it on its website

Simplicity is often equated with minimalism. Yet true simplicity is so much more than just the absence of clutter or the removal of decoration. It’s about offering up the right things, in the right place, right when you need them. It’s about bringing order to complexity. And it’s about making something that always seems to “just work.” When you pick something up for the first time and already know how to do the things you want to do, that’s simplicity.

Going along with seamless to use devices you need apps without bells and whistles which let you focus on your task and show the things like they are stored in your brain. Transfer the connections of nerves to connections of topics in a visualized way.

I suggest two apps:

  • a mind mapping tool
    with which you can emulate important connections of nerves in your brain
  • a browser
    which is much more powerful in supporting your thoughts than any version of SIRI ever can be

Usually well-designed mind mapping tools like iThoughts offer an integrated browser so there is just one app needed. You can use the integrated browser to look up some facts or opinions of others and assign the links you found to topics for later use.

Use the mind mapping tool to summarize all your thoughts which might answer the question

Where do I want to go?
What are the actual stumbles which hamper the installation of patches for my brain?

If you still grope about in the dark ask for help. Again, don’t ask SIRI but your family members, good friends or members of appropriate communities.

Because of my education and work I only can give you some tips for perfect apps supporting your project to become compatible for patches, opening your mind, and using the powerful little mobile devices for more than changing wallpapers five times a day.

It needs some time to go through your life and create a strategy for the future. Again I like to use an Apple slogan for the iPhone to make it clear …

The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.

or in a patched version

The biggest thing to happen to you since your first birthday.

or with an iPad slogan

Redesigned. Reengineered, Re-everythinged.

If your project comes to a successful state it’s not the end. Efforts are needed to validate your redesigned way of looking at the things. Update not only your brain but also your mind map.

Summary …

Apple’s mobile devices initiated a paradigm shift in learning.
Now it’s your turn to make the most out of this amazing opportunity.

Related links …

Mind mapping tools for the iPad …

iThoughts for iOS

Inspiration

Popples made by Popplet

Mind mapping tool for the iPhone …

Mindly

Some reasons to use Apple devices …

Going Apple

The Post-PC Era

A deep insight into Steve Jobs philosophy …

Steve Jobs Timeline 2000-2011

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





NASA Education Apps

17 04 2014

When Apple released its first iPad in 2010, forward-looking universities around the world started research studies on how this device could be integrated into learning and teaching.

Research initiatives had to find out where an iPad could improve the learning and teaching process in general.

  • Shifts in paradigms
    The integration of the iPad in the classroom is not only enhancing the way students learn but also changing the way instructors teach. Students now expect stimulation and immediacy; everyone wants everything faster and easier than before.
    “Our students are already so visual as far as learning styles are concerned that it’s becoming the new wave,” says Dr. Garcia. “We, as instructors, are going to have to adjust our teaching methodology in order to keep them engaged and in using the iPad, we can show the students movies and animations and give them a wide array of multimedia resources that they can tap into.”
  • Adjusting the content to its needs
    “The iPad is typically thought of as more of a consumer product”, says Dr. Garcia “but with the right fine-tuning we were able to modify some applications to make the lectures easy to view for the students.”
  • Easy deployment of course material
    About 30 years ago I myself was a teacher of physics, maths and informatics. Course material was produced by duplicating stencils written by hand or with a typewriter. Today teachers can develop their courses on a PC or an iPad and send it to a commonly used resource e.g. cloud storage from which students download it to their mobile device.
  • Reducing costs of learning
    HCC Houston Community College
    “It’s hard having to come up with the money to buy books every semester,” says Mari Hernandez, an Anatomy and Physiology student. “With the iPad, I was able to download it for free and start studying right away, instead of waiting until I could afford to buy the book.”
  • Increased mobility
    one device for the classroom, the campus and at home
  • Improved collaboration techniques
    Young people today are highly engaged in social networking and it’s an everyday experience to exchange information via Twitter or Facebook.
    Learning methods have to accept these new ways of how young people communicate with each other. The professor standing in front of his students and using a chalkboard for hours does not enhance collaboration which contradicts the expectations of young people how to get in touch with learning material and at what time they want to do it.

The App Store features over 65,000 education apps – designed especially for the iPad – that cover a wide range of subjects for every grade level and learning style.

Apple about education apps …

The App Store gives you endless ways to help students learn new concepts and express their creativity. Let your class explore the properties of magnesium with an interactive periodic table of elements. Teach young readers new words with an app that turns word-building into a game. Or find a digital painting app to make art anywhere without brushes or paint. You can find study aid apps built specifically for drills and practice. And apps that complement different learning styles. Whatever you’re teaching, apps help you do what you do best – inspire students to think in new ways.

Today I would like to present an overview about the development of education apps for the iPad and the iPhone by the NASA.

The NASA …

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.
Wikipedia

Apps of the NASA …

The actual offer of the NASA as of January 2014 …

Images of Change

Natural disasters, a warming climate, and human activities are rapidly altering the face of our planet. NASA’s Images of Change app lets you take a close-up view of many of these changes in an exciting and hands-on format. The app presents a curated collection of the best image pairs from NASA’s Global Climate Change website. These image pairs show areas that have been subject to natural disasters or seen significant change over time. Compare Alaska’s Muir Glacier in 1941 to the glacier as it Looked in 2004. Take a before-and-after look at flooding in the Missouri River or at wildfires in Colorado. See the expansion of agriculture in Saudi Arabia as viewed from satellites. All photo pairs can be viewed individually, side by side, or overlaid with a slider bar for easy comparisons. Each image pair contains background information and a map showing its location. The images presented in Images of Change are meticulously selected and constantly updated to give you an informative, compelling, and up-to-date visual experience.

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NASA Earth As Art

In 1960 the United States put its first Earth-observing environmental satellite into orbit around the planet. OvE the decades these satellites have provided invaluable information, and the vantage point of space has provid new perspectives on Earth. This app celebrates Earth’s aesthetic beauty in the patterns, shapes, colors, and textures of the land, oceans, ice, and atmosphere.
The app features stunning images of Earth from the Terra, Landsat 5, Landsat 7, EO-1, and Aqua satellites.
Sensors on these satellites can measure light outside of the visible range, so the images show more than what is visible to the naked eye. The app draws on several images from the USGS Landsat image gallery and introduces many new images.
This app features time-lapse satellite images of locations on Earth undergoing significant change over decad linking to NASA’s Earth Observatory website. The app has a thumbnail gallery of the images as well as an interactive directory with images organized by geographic region. Each image has a brief caption and the abi to enlarge each scene.
The beauty of Earth is clear, and the artistry ranges from the surreal to the sublime.

EAServices

The Johnson Space Center Engineering Directorate provides core engineering disciplines, facilities, and laboratories for Human Spaceflight Programs. The Engineering Directorate develops many of the technologies that are needed for the exploration of space. This application highlights some of the innovative technologies developed at NASA JSC and the technical facilities used to evaluate these technologies. Engineering is uniquely positioned to tailor and apply technical solutions developed for spaceflight to the challenges of other industries.

Spinoff 2012

NASA Spinoff profiles the best examples of technology that have been transferred from NASA research and missfons into commercial products. From life-saving satellite systems to hospital robots that care for patients and more, NASA technologies benefit society.
This app features shortened versions of all of the articles from the Benefits section of the 2012 edition of Spinoff, which is available in print, PDF, and HTML versions on the Spinoff website.

30 Years Shuttlebook

The Space Shuttle fleet set high marks of achievement and endurance through 30 years of missions, from its first, when STS-1 launched on Apn112, 1981, to its last, when STS-135 landed on July 21,2011. Beginning with the orbiter Columbia and continuing with Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Space Shuttle has carried people into orbit; launched, recovered, and repaired satellites; conducted cutting-edge research; and helped build the largest artificial structure in space, the International Space Station.
As humanity’s first reusable spacecraft, the Space Shuttle pushed the bounds of inquiry, requiring not only advanced technologies, but the tremendous effort of a vast workforce. Thousands of civil servants and contractors throughout NASA Centers and across the Nation have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to mission success and the greater goal of space exploration. For an entire generation, the Space Shuttle program defined NASA. This book is a tribute to everything accomplished during the Shuttle program’s 30 years of operation.

iMorpheus

Project Morpheus is testing a new NASA spacecraft at the Johnson Space Center, and the iMorpheus lOS app aims to bring you right to the center of the action! iMerpheus streams real lander telemetry from the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center and builds a live, real-time 3D simulation during actual engine and performance tests. If the lander isn’t being tested, you can just go to manual and have your own virtual test flight around JSC.
Features:
Live rocket telemetry during Morpheus lander tests rendered as 3D simulations
Recorded telemetry from previous flights when not testing
Fly your Morpheus lander around a virtual JSC, in daytime and nighttime[
Test your Morpheus Lander by flying through a series of GPS checkpoints
Live streaming of @MorpheusLander’s Twitter feed

Space communications and navigation: NetworKing

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Communications and Navigation (SCAN) Program is responsible for providing communications and navigation services to space flight missions locate, throughout the solar system. Astronauts, mission controllers, and scientists depend upon the reliable transmission of information between Earth and spacecraft in low Earth orbit (LEO) or deep space.
As a new Network Manager, your job will be to build and upgrade a complex communications network in order to support scientific missions.
Objectives: Build the Near Earth Network. Enable periodic communication with satellites in low Earth orbit, Buird the Space Network. Deploy a constellation of geosynchronous relay satellites to support LEO mission that require continuous coverage, Build the Deep Space Network. Support interplanetary spacecraft missions with powerful antennas, Manage and Improve Your Networks, Manage your network usage, deal with disasters, and research upgrades to enhance your networks’ capabilities, Support NASA Missions. Advance your networks to unlock special NASA missions that show the networks in action.

Ascent: Commemorating Shuttle

Ascent is a compilation of film and video representing the best of the best ground based Shuttle motion imagery from the STS-114, STS-117, and STS-124 missions. This app includes the entire Ascent production with commentary, numerous additional scenes, selected images, production notes, and an unreleased trailer.

Rocket Science 101

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to launch a NASA spacecraft with NASA’s Rocket Science 101 (RS101). Select your favorite NASA mission and build a rocket to send the spacecraft into orbit. As you take the RS101 challenge, you can learn more about thrilling missions and the various components of the launch vehicles, how they are configured and how they work together to successfully launch a NASA spacecraft. NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) does the same things for real rockets and exciting spacecraft missions every day. About LSP:
NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) leads the agency in providing access to space for the exploration of our home planet, solar system and the universe. LSP is located at the Kennedy Space Center and acts as a broker to match unmanned payloads with specific launch vehicles for customers to ensure mission success. The principal objectives of LSP are to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective and on-schedule processing, mission analysis and spacecraft integration and launch services for NASA and NASA-sponsored payloads. To learn more about LSR rockets and NASA missions go to: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/ index.html

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NASA Technology Innovation 16.1

Technology Innovation is a digital publication of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate which will feature the latest space technology innovators and project developments across the agency. It will also highlight the American inventors, entrepreneurs and application engineers who have transformed space exploration technologies into products that benefit the nation. This issue focuses on a few of the innovators, systems, and materials that helped to make 2012 a groundbreaking year in Mars exploration. The technologies pioneered by these scientists will be vitat components of future space missions, but they are also improving life on Earth through a wide variety of industrial, educational, and humanitarian applications.
Volume 16, number 1, contains four feature articles:
Time Fries: MEDLI, Tailor Made: Woven Thermal Protection Systems, Innovation Without Borders: International Space Apps Challenge, Photon Express: Optical Communications, plus short articles on the commercial evolution of a heat-resistant coating invented by scientists at Ames Research Center and airflow sensors developed by a former NASA engineer. The issue closes with an “Insight” piece by Nell Cheatwood, the Principal Investigator for Planetary Entry, Descent and Landing at Langley Research Center.

NASA Technology Innovation 16.2

Volume 16, number 2, contains four feature articles:
The Ions Have It, Setting Sail, Big Ideas, Small Packages, Tapping the Source, plus short articles on how a rocket engine designed at Marshall Space Flight Center produced the development of a new ultra-high-pressure fire-suppression system and how a superconducting wire created for NASA’s advanced turboelectric distributed propulsion system is now being used in the manufacture of MRI scanners. The issue closes with an “insight” piece by Michael Gazarik, Associate Administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate.

NASA Glenn Research Center: The Early Years

A photographic retrospective of the first forty years of operation at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, located in Cleveland, Ohio. Drawn from a large collection of archived photos, these images and in-depth descriptions provide an insight into the research, people, and activities that herped pioneer America’s advances in aeronautics and space technology. Get a unique view and understanding of NASA Glenn’s history from 1941 through 1979.

NASA Science Mission Highlights

This digital publication highlights just a few of NASA’s many exciting science missions. Here you will learn about the missions designed to accomplish NASA’s overarcbing science goals in Earth science, heliophysics, planetary science, and astrophysics.

NASA Science: A Journey of Discovery

NASA leads the nation on a great journey of discovery, seeking new knowledge and understanding of our planet Earth, our Sun and sorar system, and the universe out to its farthest reaches and back to its earliest moments of existence. This NASA Science application brings you the latest information from NASA’s Science Missions, including the spacecraft, their instruments, the data, and what we are Jearning about the questions we seek to answer. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the nation’s science community use space observatories to conduct scientific studies of the Earth from space to visit and return samples from other bodies in the solar system, and to peer out into our Galaxy and beyond.

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ISSLive

See Real Time Data and what’s happening onboard the International Space Station
Interact with live streaming data from the International Space Station (ISS), Take virtual 3D tours of the Mission Control Center (MCC) and ISS, and View console displays, crew and science timelines, descriptions how the ISS works and how the MCC supports the ISS.
There are educational lessons available that interact with the live streaming system data accessible through the website link ISSLive! that tie ISS streaming systems data and operational timelines into one “Rich Intemet Application (RIA)” experience. The application offers data on real time parameters such as station position, internal environment, altitude, payload rack science activities and other interesting data and crew activities.

NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG)

The NASA OIG provides independent and objective oversight of NASA programs and operations. Get the latest information on the OIG audit reports, investigations, special reviews, semiannual reports, and congressional testimony.

NASA Visualization Explorer

This is the NASA Visualization Explorer, the coolest way to get stories about advanced space-based research delivered right to your iPad. A direct connection to NASA’s extraordinary fleet of research spacecraft, this app presents cutting edge research stories in an engaging and excitJng format. See the Earth as you’ve never seen it before; travel to places otherwise unavailable to even the most intrepid explorers.

NASA Television

The NASA Television App brings live and on-demand TV programming to your iPhone or iPod Touch. Watch the latest NASA events unford in real-time or select from a list of recently uploaded videos. Plan your viewing up to a week in advance with the NASA TV schedule, and check out a list of NASA-related programming on other networks.

NASA App

Explore with NASA and discover the latest images, videos, mission information, news, feature storie tweets, NASA TV and featured content. Features:
•Current NASA mission information, over 12,000 images (and growing everyday), Latest news & feature stories, On demand NASA Videos from around the agency, Live streaming of the NASA TV, Third Rock internet streaming radio, Launch information + countdown clocks, Sighting opportunities (visible passes for the ISS), ISS and Earth orbiting satellite trackers, Featured content section, Latest tweets from around the agency, Programs section, Facebook Connect and Integrated Twitter client for easy sharing, Map, information and links to all of the NASA visitor centers, Favorites + image bookmarks, Printing support

Space Place Prime

Space Place Prime is a content presentation app that gathers some of the best and most recent offerings from NASA. A spinoff of NASA’s popular kids’ Space Place website (spaceplace.nasa.gov or science.nasa.gov/kids), Space Place Prime has intergenerational appeal. It taps timely educational and easy-to-read articles from the website, as well as daily updates of NASA space and Earth-from-space images and the latest informative videos.
The interface is a slidable, looping grid of images, one for each feature, with icons indicating whether they represent an image, a video, or an article. Alternatively, a list mode and a carousel mode present images, videos, and articles sorted separately. Content is updated daily, retaining the previous few days-worth of features. Favorites can be tagged for permanent archive.
Facebook, twitter, and e-mail connections make any feature easy to share.

Space365

When did Neil Armstrong land on the moon? When was Jon Stewart born? What space events happened around my birthday?
Free, fun Space365 lets you see what NASA events and quirky trivia facts happened each day of the year.
Features:
• Search by keywords, categories and dates, Over 4,000 events (updated weekly), Corresponding photos with events, Links for more detailed information about the event, Save your favorite events, View the NASA image of the day and it’s details, Send questions to the Space365 team, Tweet, Like and Circle about Space365.

Summary …

This mind map summarizes all the information above.

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If you use a mind mapping tool like iThoughts HD for the iPad you will see a small icon assigned to each topic. It points to additional textual information shown in the upper part of the screen. So all the app descriptions above would’t be necessary if the use of a mind mapping tool could be supposed.

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Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Word DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Further sources …

iTunes U is a part of the iTunes Store featuring free lectures, language lessons, audiobooks, and more, that you can enjoy on your iPod, iPhone, Mac or PC. Explore over 600,000 educational audio and video files, books, and other resources from top universities, museums and public media organizations from around the world (30 countries) on thousands of subjects from Algebra to Zoology. The relevance of iTunes U is validated by engagements of Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, The Open University, MoMA, the New York Public Library, and the Library of Congress. It’s the world’s largest catalog of free education content.

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A further source with more than 65,000 apps for education is Apple’s App Store where one of the categories is ‘Education’.

Summary …

Apple takes cars of the educational sector. Teachers should learn how to integrate the usage of tablets in the curriculum.

Related links …

NASA, USA

Apple about Education

i(Space)Weather

iPad @ Universities

iPad @ School

Back to the roots

About the mind mapping tool …

iThoughts for the iPad

Thanks for flying with iNotes4You.





instaGrok

25 01 2014

instaGrok by instaGrok Inc., USA, is an educational web-based research engine that lets students or anyone else research any topic in an engaging, visual way. instaGrok finds information on the topic and presents it as an interactive mind map (“grok”), showing key facts, concepts and relationships, videos, images and more. Users can pin their favorite materials to their grok and take notes in the built-in journals.

Prior to the launch of the iPad app instaGrok was accessible via any browser. The iPad app is a free version released on Jan 09, 2014 (version 1.0.1).

The concept …

The company tries to retrieve comprehensive information about a topic in a visualized layout with the main topic as the center of a mind map.

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The developer about his concept:

  • Visual interface
    instaGrok presents each topic as an interactive visual interface, allowing the user to quickly grasp important concepts, key facts and relationships.

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  • Features
    • Key Facts show important facts about the topic (with links to the original content page)
    • Difficulty Slider adjusts the difficulty of the material
    • Quizzes offer fun challenges that reinforce learning and encourage exploration
    • Glossary defines important terms
  • Journals, Pinning, History
    • Integrated journals allow easy note-taking or writing of research reports
    • Pin buttons allow pinning of favorite facts, websites or images to your grok
    • Search history is automatically saved, allowing you to come back to your research activity
  • Classroom version
    In the school setting, an integrated teacher dashboard allows teachers to monitor the progess of each student, view their research activity, and view/comment on students’ journals.

How it works …

Enter a search term in ‘What would you like to know about?’ and tap on GROK.
A visualized summary of retrieved topics appears.
Tap on a topic to see

  • Key Facts
  • Websites
    instaGrok provides an integrated browser. So following a source doesn’t require to move over to Safari.
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Concepts
  • Add Note
    Notes can be added to each topic.

instGrok provides a text editor with lots of formatting features to summarize information about the topic.

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Here is a video about the usage on a desktop computer

Sad to see that many of the essential features don’t work when using the iPad app.

The cons …

The following features are not available:

  • Items in the ‘History’ cannot be deleted.
  • There is no way to add a pin to the journal.

The UI looks perfect but …

  • The iPad’s status bar is overlapped by the app’s screen.
  • The tab ‘Grok’ disappears in some cases.
  • Changing the view often logs the user out.
  • The UI is quite jumpy when rearranging topics although my cable internet connection is a 40 MBit/sec connection.
  • Apple’s autocorrect feature doesn’t work when writing the journal. It’s quite frustrating to manually correct all those minor typos.
  • Many of the formatting options using drop-down menus are not really useful because the controls are too small for targeted usage on a touch screen.

Summary …

A perfect idea unfortunately with a jumpy UI (iPad 3, iOS 7) and not working features.
It seems to me that the iPad version just retrieves the website where many features are also not available, neither with Safari nor with Google Chrome.

Again an app is hastily stitched together and released without a critical internal control.
Three years after the release of the first iPad and the availability of lots of powerful apps fully adapted to the iPad’s touch screen the developer should do it bit more to satisfy customers.

In total I don’t see teal benefits compared to a powerful mind mapping tool like iThoughts for the iPad with which you can also do it all and do it better because of a perfect adaption to touch screens.

Related links …

How to use instaGrok (YouTube, 6:21)

Reviews of mind mapping tools …

iThoughts for the iPad

Pearltrees

Inspiration

Three In One (about MagicalPad)

BigMind

About mind mapping …

Mind Maps vs Concept Maps

Mind Mapping (1)

Mind Mapping (2)

Mind Mapping (3)

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Back to the roots

27 04 2013

You find sophisticated apps in Apple’s App Store and those which are shining examples for simplicity and plain designs.

In this article I talk about

  • Discount Spreadsheet by Luminant Software
  • PlainText by Hog Bay Software

Why? …

Discussing simple issues with young people is the first step to improve knowledge. Knowledge is the basis of creativity. So the two main targets of teachers must be to transfer knowledge and initiate further discrete thinking of their pupils.

Working with a simple app initiates thinking about the need of further features.
An originally created ‘concept map’ as a feature description for those using the app later can be extended to a map with the typical properties of a mind map by adding elements of brainstorming.

By the way, pupils learn an alternate technique of summarizing results of their learning process, alternate to commonly used textual descriptions, spreadsheets, or images.

So the learning process might look like

  • Learning the use of the app by using a pre-created concept map
    This concept map can be seen as the documentation of the app.
  • Developing ideas for improving the features
    In a first step pupils build a new topic adding their ideas for
    – new must-have features
    – new nice-to-have features
    using special properties for new topics (color, icons, etc.)

    In a second step these new features may be dragged into the concept map by keeping the color of the new topics.

The benefits of combining a concept map with elements of a mind map are

  • Existing features stay always in the focus
  • New features must be brought into line with existing features

Discount Spreadsheet …

20130223-164417.jpg

It’s simple with a plain design that lets the users focus on the relevant tasks.

So I think it’s a perfect app to explain the basics of creating spreadsheets to young people.

Learning targets could be …

  • learn the common actions cut, copy, paste, undo and redo which are provided by all operating systems
  • build a sum with cells in a column or row
  • enter a simple expression where the arguments are cells
  • drag a formula for a row/coulmn to another row/column and see that a spreadsheet app automatically adjusts the cell coordinates in the formula to the destination row/column
  • access the iOS app specific folder via a browser by using a http address

Here is a mind map containing a full feature description of the app.
The map was created with the app iThoughts by Craig Scott, UK.

20130224-090014.jpg

You may download it here as a PDF

Discount Spreadsheet (PDF)

Visit the mind map library

Biggerplate, UK (group APPLE)

to download further mind maps related to Apple’s iOS devices.

PlainText …

This app can be compared with Microsofts dinosaur app EDITOR.

I myself use PlainText for writing down ideas for blogs. There are no functionalities available, not even formatting, so you have to completely focus on the contents.
Saving of text is automatically and frequently done by PlainText in a folder called PlainText on Dropbox.

It’s all automatic except writing the text.

20130223-181039.jpg

This app is, like Spreadsheet, suitable for teaching children in writing texts.

Learning targets could be …

  • using the on-screen-keyboard
  • learning orthography by turning off the iOS setting ‘Check spelling
    (Settings – General – Keyboard – Check Spellings)
  • learning collaboration by using the same Dropbox account on two or more devices
    The pupils should recognize that relevant functionalities for collaboration are missing, e.g. who edited existing text and what part of the text was changed.
  • developing a mind map with preferable extensions to a more powerful text editor

Summary …

Learning to use a simple app initiates the creativity to extend the basic features.
This learning process can be combined with learning a new technique which brings the activity to a very personal level.

It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device or textbook could be. What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things. Creating artworks, modeling new devices or writing down all the ideas leading to the E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.
So it’s obvious that using a mind map in schools improves the motivation of pupils to intensively get in touch with a topic.

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.
I hope you come back soon.





iPad @ Universities

23 03 2013

When Apple released its first iPad in 2010, forward-looking universities around the world started research studies on how this device could be integrated into learning and teaching.

There are many representatives of the educational system still getting euphoric when it comes to iPads in schools or universities. That is basically positive as it forces all the people involved to try to go new ways. Teachers always look for techniques to generate interest and keep motivation on a high level. But they are also responsible for the young people and cannot delegate this responsibility to a device. Success and positive results in learning and teaching with an iPad is no automatism. It’s hard and subtle work to adjust all the parameters which give direction to new methods of learning.

The intention of research …

Research initiatives have to find out where an iPad could improve the learning and teaching process in general.

Here are some research activities:

  • Shifts in paradigms
    The integration of the iPad in the classroom is not only enhancing the way students learn but also changing the way instructors teach. Students now expect stimulation and immediacy; everyone wants everything faster and easier than before.
    “Our students are already so visual as far as learning styles are concerned that it’s becoming the new wave,” says Dr. Garcia. “We, as instructors, are going to have to adjust our teaching methodology in order to keep them engaged and in using the iPad, we can show the students movies and animations and give them a wide array of multimedia resources that they can tap into.”
  • Adjusting the content to its needs
    “The iPad is typically thought of as more of a consumer product”, says Dr. Garcia “but with the right fine-tuning we were able to modify some applications to make the lectures easy to view for the students.”
  • Easy deployment of course material
    About 30 years ago I myself was a teacher of physics, maths and informatics. Course material was produced by duplicating stencils written by hand or with a typewriter. Today teachers can develop their courses on a PC or an iPad and send it to a commonly used resource e.g. cloud storage from which students download it to their mobile device.
  • Reducing costs of learning
    HCC Houston Community College
    “It’s hard having to come up with the money to buy books every semester,” says Mari Hernandez, an Anatomy and Physiology student. “With the iPad, I was able to download it for free and start studying right away, instead of waiting until I could afford to buy the book.”
  • Increased mobility
    one device for the classroom, the campus and at home
  • Improved collaboration techniques
    Young people today are highly engaged in social networking and it’s an everyday experience to exchange information via Twitter or Facebook.
    Learning methods have to accept these new ways of how young people communicate with each other. The professor standing in front of his students and using a chalkboard for hours does not enhance collaboration which contradicts the expectations of young people how to get in touch with learning material and at what time they want to do it.

The problems …

All that glitters is not gold.
The problems I see are

  • how to find out the right apps for the students
  • how to establish a set of apps which are universally accepted by the students even if they already use an iPad with their personal favorite apps
  • how to organize and manage all the information to easy access on a subsequent date (the problem refers basically to the lacks in the iOS filesystem, where data are spread over app specific folders)
  • how to integrate a PC, which still cannot be replaced by the iPad
  • how to ensure a high quality level of the software used (you cannot wait for bug fixing during a semester)
  • how the file management can be organized after finishing a course
  • how to enable the teacher to search within documents of his students
  • how to establish a consistent naming system for the files created during a course
  • what the solution can be for iPads iOS with its one-window-at-a-glance-design, which can be obstructive when researching open topics and summarizing results
  • how students can be involved if they use private Android based devices
  • how distractions can be avoided while using a device instead of a pencil and a sheet of paper

Some other problems I see with regard to content, quality and style of courses offered at iTunes U.
There is NO QUALITY CONTROL just as there are no real criteria for recommendations of apps in the App Store. It’s Apple’s way of looking at iTunes U and App Store as an offer to enhance hardware and software sales.

The offer of iTunes U is voluminous but after looking into lots of courses, the quality often could not convince me. I saw courses which were just videos of lectures without lecture notes provided. I also find courses with videos where a teacher just wrote something on a chalkboard.
To find out the right courses may last hours, days, or even weeks.
This more traditional approach reduces the capabilities of an iPad to a usual consumer device.

Summary …

iPad was first released on April 3, 2010.
A new technology was introduced by Apple. The hardware meets most of the requirements but at the time the software including the operating system has not yet been fully developed. Developers all over the world got euphoric as Apple did when introducing the App Store in July 2008. Now it’s time to look at the facts a bit more objectively. I don’t see a real benefit in offering more than 700,000 apps if there is no implemented quality control with user friendly technical criteria lists instead of promises.
I installed about 200 apps on the iPhone. For too many of them special features were announced but after purchasing it turned out that they are buggy and for some apps I wait for a bug fixing for months. Do we need an app for answering the question ‘Why the sea is salty” (McGraw Hill)? Today apps can be seen as usual consumer products like shirts, jeans and other stuff. I like to call some apps as ‘7 Up’ apps. Use them 7 minutes or 7 hours and flush them down the toilet to clear the space for the next app. Are the apps for learning or just playing with this handy device? Is there a compulsion to try out new apps in periods getting shorter and shorter?

iPad MAY BE A TRANSFORMATIVE TOOL in education as it can house all resources (books, readings, video, audio), connects to the internet for doing research, provides a vehicle for maintaining communication, replaces ‘dead tree’ paper versions of resources and does it all in an easy to carry around, quick starting, and simple interface.

So the most important questions which have to be found out by research studies are:

  • Does iPad improve the motivation of students?
  • Are there measurable better results in graduation of students using iPads compared to those using the more old-fashioned learning techniques?

All the studies I looked into verified improvements in all fields.
Unfortunately many of the results published were of poor quality as they did not outline the relevant aspects in a clear and comprehensive way. Some studies compiled statistics with an entirety of about 20 students. That’s unscientific.

Anyway you can also find truly meaningful documents like The Reed College’s iPad Pilot Report published by The Reed College (see link below).

Attachments …

A highly interesting and meaningful document I found out at

Reed College: iPad Pilot Project

Apple supports education by introducing iBooks and iTunesU.

iTunes U …
let teachers create their own courses to unleash the full potential of iPad in a classroom. Ideas can be shared in a powerful new way, and the students get a rich, immersive learning experience using the iTunes U app for iPad. iTunes U is available at any college, university, or K-12 school.
From the iTunes U app, students can play video or audio lectures and take notes that are synchronized with the lecture. They can read books and view presentations. See a list of all the assignments for the course and check them off as they’re completed. And when you send a message or create a new assignment, students receive a push notification with the new information.
With the Apple ID anyone can subscribe to any courses.

Some of the really exciting features of the iTunes U experience is that as the video materials are playing, it is easy to pause the video to take notes. This creates a time stamp and a small thumbnail. When you look at your list of notes, it is possible to touch on the time stamp and be taken to that exact point in the video for review.

An example of iTunes U content by
Union University, Jackson, Tennessee

Introducing iPads into classrooms

The apps …

That’s the biggest problem when using an iPad.
It’s not easy to find out apps with the following capabilities.

  • UI which fulfills Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines
  • reputable developer with innovative ideas and fast support
  • suitable capabilities to connect with different cloud providers including iCloud
  • support of well-known file formats (instead of proprietary formats)

Here are my proposals for the software configuration …

  • iWork for iOS (Apple)
    Pages for summarizing results in a final paper
    Numbers for ToDo lists and documentation of the learning process
    Keynote for presentation of intermediate and individual results
  • iThoughts (Craig Scott, UK)
    a mind mapping app for research and organizing one’s brain

    Reflect what you have learned by creating a mind map.
    You will forget many detailed information but you should not forget the topics and their dependencies. Mind mapping on an iPad supports this essential part of the learning process in a specific way.

    It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device or textbook could be. What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things. Creating artworks, modeling new devices or writing down all the ideas leading to the E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.

  • FileBrowser (Stratospherix)
    as the file transfer app with capabilities to connect directly to networks, clouds and USB drives
  • Camera (Apple)
    to scan documents and use photos for clarification
  • Documents (Readdle)
    to establish syncing of a cloud folder where the teacher provides documents for his students
  • iDriveSync (Pro Softnet)
    to establish syncing of a cloud folder where the teacher provides documents for his students

An external storage has to support WebDAV as it is more flexible than Dropbox. All other providers furthermore offer more free storage capacity than the 2 GB of a Dropbox account. Additionally, a WebDAV connection can be used to save iWork documents.

An alert reader might miss a suggestion for a note taking app because an iPad is frequently used for that task. But I cannot make any suggestion which app meets the requirements of students. So look here …

Further information …

Associated blog links …

Thanks …

I have to explicitly thank Nicolas Forsans, Associate Professor in International Strategic Management at the University of Leeds (UK) who forwarded some useful links to me which initiated my idea to write this article.

Please comment on this article.
Thanks for reading my blog.





iPad @ School

1 01 2013

Apple released its 1st iPhone in 2007.
At this time people mainly saw it as a processor-based gadget for mobile gaming.

But the company, or should I say Steve Jobs had a vision expressed in a fascinating document, the iOS Human Interface Guidelines

Improving the precision of touch screens and resizing the form factor marked the second breakdown from a smartphone to a tablet in 2010 when Apple releases its first iPad.
Hardware is nothing without software. So part of the philosophy was to set up a platform for developers who breathe life into this machine.

What we see today is the middle ages of a new technology, not fully developed but with strong capabilities to revolutionize the readiness and willingness to learn.

To qualify the statement (quoting Andrew Douch)

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m arguing that it’s more pedagogically productive, NOT that it is more technologically capable than a laptop.

Using an iPad in classrooms is a paradigm shift from didactic models of ‘Teaching’ to constructivist models of ‘Learning’. Technology has always been good that and that’s one reason schools began investing in computers in the 70s and 80s. But the iPad brought that engagement to a very personal level.

Have you ever seen such an intensive interaction between teachers and pupils using a textbook instead of a tablet?

20121225-133544.jpg

It’s because a touchscreen is much nearer to human activities than any other device or textbook could be. What we do is mostly what we do with our hands. It’s our first approach to new things. Creating artworks, modeling new devices or writing down all the ideas leading to the E=m c c equation on a sheet of paper while walking through the room and reflecting our thoughts is almost always done by hand.

See this video for better understanding of what I mean with learning by doing with your hands:

Further informations on ..

  • Jonathan Wylie presenting apps
    Jonathan Wylie is a certified teacher with 10 years classroom experience, and has taught in Scotland, England, and the United States. Jonathan has spent the last two years working with school districts in Eastern Iowa to help advise them on the best ways to integrate technology into the classroom. He has had extensive experience with the use of the iPad and has provided support and training for educators and administrators locally, and across the state. Jonathan is also a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer.
  • Apple about Education
  • Apps for Education

Let’s see which exciting innovations will come up in this new year 2013.
Happy New Year to all of you.








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