Clicker questions from an iPad

I’m using my iPad to present the key points at the start of each class, and yesterday I wanted to ask some interactive clicker-type questions with , like I had done . Students could submit responses via text message, but I immediately ran into a problem with students trying to respond via the web. phentermine The was loading, but indicating that there was no active poll for them to respond to. I didn’t realize that in order to accept responses over the web you need to be running the questions from a computer with Flash. Their FAQ seems to assume this, at least, so I figured I was out of luck with the iPad.

Then I stumbled upon a blog post on their site announcing their , which perfectly solves the problem. It allows you to fully control the polling process from a tablet or smartphone just by going to a . Here you can create new polls, stop and start polls, and push polls to . This is exactly what I needed, and I’m looking forward to trying it tomorrow in class. My only suggestion for them is to add this somewhere on their so it’s more easily discovered.

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Quality : HD<br>
Title : The Autopsy of Jane Doe.<br>
Director : André Øvredal<br>
Release : December 21, 2016<br>
Language :  en.<br>
Runtime : 86 min<br>
Genre : Horror, Mystery.<br>

<strong>Plot</strong>
'The Autopsy of Jane Doe' is good film tell story about Father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. As they attempt to identify the beautiful young "Jane Doe," they discover increasingly bizarre clues that hold the key to her terrifying secrets. This film have genre Horror, Mystery and have 86 minutes runtime.

<strong>Cast</strong>
Olwen Catherine Kelly as Jane Doe, Parker Sawyers as Officer Cole, Ophelia Lovibond as Emma, Michael McElhatton as Sheriff Sheldon, Brian Cox as Tommy Tilden, Emile Hirsch as Austin Tilden.

<strong>Production</strong>
The Director of this movie is André Øvredal. The movie The Autopsy of Jane Doe is produced by Impostor Pictures, 42, IM Global and released in December 21, 2016.

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Students becoming less dependent on physical books?

Inside Higher Ed has an update on electronic textbook adoption which is mostly uninteresting to me except for this bit:

Nevertheless, students’ allegiance to print appears to be eroding; among those who did not purchase a digital text, only 39 percent said they “prefer traditional print textbooks” — down from 50 percent two years ago and 59 percent three years ago.

Student habit and comfort level is one of the hardest things to change, and this survey suggests that college students are quickly dropping their insistence on a physical, paper book. If this is true, this will open up the field to all kinds of experimental approaches to textbooks. I’ll be finding out soon enough with my fall class how comfortable students are with a fairly radical electronic “book”.

A Sea Change on Campus

If this survey is to be taken seriously, we are on the brink of a sea change in higher education. In that article, The Chronicle reports that the number of students with a tablet tripled in a year, and many more plan to buy one soon. The survey was performed long before the new iPad was announced, and I can imagine the high-resolution screen will only accelerate this trend. It is, in many ways, the perfect computing device for campus.

Students have been bringing computers to campus for decades, though, so why should the arrival of tablets like the iPad be any different? I think there are several key qualities of the iPad not shared with regular notebook computers. First, it is hard to overstate the importance of battery life. While a notebook computer may eke out 4 or 5 hours when brand new and not heavily used, it won’t be long before 2 to 3 hours of battery life is the norm. Most students I see with a notebook computer have it plugged in. Meanwhile, the iPad can be used heavily all day without a charge. I argue this is a huge deal on campus.

A second factor that favors the iPad in the classroom over a notebook is the position of the screen. Having a screen between the student and me changes the dynamic of exchange in some way. I know it sounds silly, but it does. Students who take notes on their iPad just seem to look up and pay attention more because of its position. It’s like students with a notebook open are waiting for something to happen on their screen, their default gaze includes their screen. This matters, and relates to the next issue…

The iPad only ever has ONE thing on the screen at a time. Apple is rigorous in enforcing this for apps — they actively deny apps that try recreate a desktop or windowing metaphor. This encourages focus and concentration in a class setting at a level that a more traditional notebook computer simply cannot do. Sure, sometimes this is not an advantage, if a student needs to gather information from a variety of apps simultaneously. On the iPad, they could double-tap the home button and bounce around their apps if they need to, but there is not a similar temptation to notice distractions as much.

Fourth, as a touch-based device, the iPad is a great tool for freeform note taking and drawing. In most of the classes I teach I lean heavily on visual aids to explain abstract ideas (diffusion? operons? signal transduction?). These are hard to capture on a notebook computer, but the iPad was made for drawing, especially with a stylus.

I could go on and on, but let me try to wrap it up here. Campuses have seen personal computers come in with students for decades. The iPad is not a PC, and represents something completely different and, in many ways, better. We are on the cusp of seeing the majority of our students coming to class with these in tow. What could we do to better prepare for this?

Adding a Stylus Renews my iPad

Wacom Bamboo Stylus in black
Wacom Bamboo Stylus

Over the weekend I picked up my first stylus for my iPad, the Wacom Bamboo. I went with this one because 1) Wacom has been making styluses for their own tablets for a long time, so I figured they must be good at it and 2) it received high marks from Serenity at Macworld.

I’ve had my iPad (the original) since August of 2010 and put off buying a stylus until now because every time I looked at them I heard Steve’s voice in the back of my mind saying, “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” So why did I give in after 1.5 years? Simple: despite years of experience in pre-school, it’s pretty hard to draw with my finger, and I have some diagrams and sketches I want to include in my course notes. I am no artist, but even I can cobble together an acceptable diagram given enough time and ready access to an ‘Undo’ button.

Now that I’ve used it for a couple days, I can say a couple things about it. First, there is a sense that my old, fat, heavy iPad is a brand new thing. I’ve always been struck by how the iPad dissolves into the background when using a well-designed app. It’s been said far more eloquently before, but part of the “magic” of the iPad is how it completely becomes whatever app is currently running. What does this have to do with a stylus? Well it happens that you begin to discover a whole new assortment of apps that you never paid attention to before, or if you did it was only for a few minutes as a novelty. I’m talking about things like SketchBook Pro, Notability, and Penultimate, to name a few.

The other thing I know for sure is that a stylus is totally goofy for doing any kind of navigation in iOS. Even in a drawing app, I find it unnatural to use it to select different colors, pens or brushes, so I tuck it into my hand and use my finger instead. These various tap targets still feel best when selected with my finger. I can imagine it must be tempting for app designers to optimize their targets for a stylus, given that the majority of people who are using drawing apps are probably using one, but I hope it never happens. I have the stylus because it allows me more precise control for drawing, period. In that sense, the most important sense, Steve was right. And at the same time, adding a stylus to my iPad makes it even more capable.