Posts Tagged ‘Tablet’

There are a number of really useful and FREE Pre-school and early years Android Apps that really come to life on an ASUS Transformer for various reasons and most importantly because of its size! In fact, the very first advantage of an eee pad Transformer is to have dimensions that are similar to a book, which kids are used to handle, as opposed to a phone (that most parents are reluctant to let a child use, as they “could break it”). My boys can easily hold the ASUS Transformer with both hands, or simply rest it on their laps as they sit on the sofa! But as well as ease of use, my kids appreciate the larger screen, which really helps them to engage with the eee pad Transformer at a completely different level. In fact, anyone would tend to give a child a piece of A4 paper to write/draw on rather that a small notepad! And this is the same for the ASUS Transformer. The size of the usable screen gives them more freedom to express their creativity and they learn more effectively. The responsiveness of the touchscreen make things very easy too and being able to use their fingers to write, draw, or simply drag and drop takes away many of the hurdles that a pre-school child usually experiences as they try to do creative tasks like drawing. In fact, what is easier (if you haven’t mastered the use of your hands very well yet) drawing a circle with a pen, or with your fingers? Which one are children more likely to feel as they draw? And what about the shape of a letter, or a number? Using our eee pad Transformer my pre-school children can do tasks like tracing patterns and letters much more easily that when they try to do it using a pen.

Some Pre-School Apps

So, here are some great apps for Pre-school!

The Intellijoy Series

Intellijoy has created a great series of fantastic apps that really engage young children in key skills like reading, writing and counting.

One of my favourite is Kids Learn to Read which has Tommy the turtle who helps you spell phonetically simple words, like man. You can tap on individual letters to hear the sounds, and also on the walking stick and Tommy starts moving along the bridge that is made by the letter blocks. As he walks past a letter lights up and its sound is spoken out by a female voice (the only problem is that the pronounciation is very American). As the child becomes more confident, he can send Tommy along the bridge with trainers and because he now walks faster, the word will be spelled out faster too! And eventually Tommy can cross the bridge on a skateboard and the word is read at normal speed. This is a lovely progression that teaches young learners how to spell and break down simple words into small bits (in this case single letters) in order to gain confidence in their reading skills!

Kids Shape Puzzle is another favourite of my boys as they love putting jigsaw puzzles together. In particular, my youngest (2) always wants to play with this great app. The different colours of the pieces makes it very interesting for him to drag and drop the pieces in the correct place on the silouette of the image and when the completed image appears he gets so excited and shouts “I did it! I did it!”

 

Then, there is Kids ABC Letters, which is a great game to learn how to recognize letters. In fact, there is again a jigsaw task where kids need to piece the parts of a letter (both capital and small) together and a lovely fishing game, where the learner helps a cat to catch fish labelled with the letters of the alphabet. The game tells you which letter the cat needs to catch and you need to press on the cat when the fish with the corresponding letter is passing by. At that point the cat lifts up the fishing rod and the hook grabs the fish, so you score points. If you choose the wrong letter, the fish goes free! All these simple tasks are very engaging because they give an immediate sense of reward and encourage the learners to want to learn more! And the great thing is that as they are playing they are learning an aweful lot 🙂

There is also Kids Numbers and Math which lets you complete some fun tasks to improve your Numeracy skills. You can start from very simple tasks, like counting up, or down, and number recognition, to more complex tasks like finding the greatest number from a pair, etc… Again, this is a very engaging App that enables very young learners to become excited about Maths and learning numbers!

Sriram Satyavolu

Here are a couple of very simple, yet very effective, Apps by Sriram Satyavolu! The first is LearnABC which is a simple alphabet which allows you to pick a letter and draw its shape over it with your finger. And here is when using an eee pad Transformer makes a big difference compared to an ordinary smart phone, because size matters after all! In fact, my boys can draw over the letters very well because they are showing nice and big on the ASUS Transformer, and as they draw the start recognising the patterns ready for when they will be in school and do it on paper.

The second app is WordBuilder which gives you the image of an object and the first letter. Then, from the alphabet you need to choose the letters that make up the word and drag them in the correct place. It is a really good way to learn how to spell. When you place a letter in the wrong space it gets crossed and you have a chance to try again until you get the correct order.

 

Google Sky Map

Perhaps this one is more suitable for older learners, but Google Sky Map is a really nice app that give you a lovely experience of the sky as it is seen at night! By simply holding your ASUS Transformer, you can move the tablet to see different parts of the sky, including stars and planets. The nice thing is that the planets are nice and big, so, although you loose the sense of proportion, you have a way to show young children where the planets are in our solar system and that they are not luminous objects like the stars. You could also use this app to get learners to tell stories about space missions, or star wars like adventures, by jumping from one planet to the next children can tell their story to their peers.

There are many more great apps for young learners and I discover new ones every day that engage my boys. Which apps have you used? Why were they effective? Please leave a comment on the post.

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This is my fourth post on the ASUS Transformer, but I will mainly focus on free Android Apps that can be used on any Android Tablet, or smartphone. The apps I will look at are all to do with Education (especially Physics), or at least ways to apply them to a classroom situation.

The first one is a nice mind mapping app called Thinking Space. There is a Pro version that costs £2.95, but I can’t really see why anybody wouldn’t be happy with just the free version which I found really intuitive and easy to use. I used it today for the first time at a conference to take notes and it was very simple to add branches, change colours, etc. It doesn’t give you the feel of a hand drawn mind map as branches are very linear and you cannot add graphics to branches, but it is a useful tool to create quick fire mind maps to revisit later. Thanks to this app I also discovered how increadibly accurate the touch keyboard on the Transformer is. In fact, I could write almost as quickly as with the docking keyboard, but with just the tablet to hold it was much easier to hold take photos of the speakers and presentations, like this one.

Another nice app is My Solar System for Free. This app is quite simple, but useful to show some interesting features of the Solar System. You can tilt the plane of the Solar System to see the planets orbiting around the Sun from different angles and, although the sizes and distances of the planets are not to scale you can make estimates on the relative orbital period of different planets with respect to each other. This could be an interesting way to develop Numeracy in young learners, e.g. “How many Mars’ years does it take Jupiter to go around the sun?”, etc… There is also a nice info “button” that brings up general information about the planes, and if you need more information you have a direct link to Google web and image searches. Ah, by the way, Pluto does not appear in this app, so you no longer have to explain to them that that tiny planet on the last orbit is no longer classed as a planet.

Angular Velocity is a nice Physics game that can be used to develop understanding of various concepts, like resonance, forces, etc. You can “tilt gravity” by tilting your Transformer and that can be a bit confusing for the learners, but you could use this new way of interacting with video games (i.e. using the accelerometer) to simulate real situations, like, for example, the effects of an earthquake, or a toy hanging off the rearview mirror inside a car as it breaks, or accelerates, etc…

Atomic Bomber is quite an addictive game that allows you to control a bomber with movements of your finger while various elements are moving on the ground underneath you. The aim is to destroy these tanks, vans, buildings, etc by dropping bombs. It is a fun way to learn about independence of vertical and horizontal components of velocity. It is also a nice way to show the importance of relative motion when an object below you is moving towards, or away from your moving plane.

Clever Contraptions is another fun Physics problem solving game that gives a good feel for motion and gravity.

These are just five interesting apps that could be used in the classroom and I have only downloaded the free versions because I believe they are perfectly adequate to illustrate some important points about Physics in a different way that could add to the engagement and understanding of some learners. There are thousands more apps in the Android Market that I am sure are very good and I would be very interested in hearing what your experience of them has been so far. What are your favourite apps for Education?

You can imagine the excitement when I said to my three boys that a Transformer would arrive to our house in a week! The ASUS Transformer, which such a cool name, became immediately the most awesome thing they could imagine (even before having seen it) 🙂

I have to say that, as well as being a very engaging tool for them, it was also a life saver in the airport and on the plane on our way to and back from Italy during the Easter holidays. In fact, the boys had their first chance to use this amazing tablet in these environments, and that kept them happy, engaged and, most importantly, quiet… well, relatively 😉

You can see their first experience at using the Transformer in the video below. They loved it from the start, and, although slightly disappointed to discover that it couldn’t actually transform into a 6 m tall robot, they fought and argued quite animatedly over who would use it first!

There are some really interesting things to notice in this video. In the first part you see Luca (2) who is playing his favourite game, “Pieces” as he calls it. At first he tries to pick up the pieces of the puzzle with two fingers as if they were real bits of a jigsaw puzzle, but he quickly realizes that you need a single touch to move these (quite a change, uh!). The second user in this video is Matteo (6) who seems to find his way around applications immediately and being able to select the ones he likes, check them out and move on. In the glowing Typhoon game he doesn’t immediately understand what he needs to do and loses a point, but the second score is his 🙂 The last boy is Stefano (4) and he’s having a go at some pre-school writing and letter recognition.

All the apps you have seen in the video are free and everyday I find more and better ones. There are some apps to purchase for a price, but there are thousands free that are really useful and well designed. One thing I haven’t worked out yet is how to distinguish those designed to work on a smart phone (like the one on the video to trace the numbers) and those that are suitable to run on my tablet!

This blog post has two aims. One is to continue the series of posts on my experience of the ASUS Transformer, which is becoming a really inseparable “friend” in my work, and the other aim is to give you an update of the Science on Stage Europe Conference held in Copenhagen last month. The reason I am marrying the two is because I used my Transformer to keep a sort of journal of the event…
So, my adventure in Copenhagen began by using my Tablet on the plane to read the Conference programme I had conveniently and easily downloaded beforehand as a pdf. Two stuarts on the plane asked me if I had broken my laptop in two pieces when they saw me holding the tablet detached from the docking station 🙂 and on this note I have to correct my earlier concerns about the locking system. I have to say that now that I got used to it, and that I have read the symbol on the lock properly ;-), attaching and detaching the keyboard is very easy and quick!
To take my notes I tried different tools, starting from evernote. It is a shame that iMindMap has not developed a version of their amazing software for Android platforms, or I would have certainly used that. However, Evernote didn’t seem to be the best option for the venue I was in. In fact, for problems with the filters in the network (I believe) Evernote would not allow me to sync my previous notes properly, so I had to abandon the app for Polaris Office, the built in Office equivalent for Android. I was very pleased with the choice and I cannot see any difference, and certainly nothing inferior, to the iPad versions. One of the best things was to be able to capture a photo directly inside the document I was writing from a workshop, or a talk. The integration between the front and back camera and the Polaris Office package is really neat and handy.
So, here is a short account of my favourite parts of the Science on Stage Conference in Copenhagen.
1) Meeting up with the Italian Contingency was a real treat, especially looking at the clever free fall experiments from Giovanni Pezzi (Palestra della Scienza del Comune di Faenza) who attached a wireless webcam inside a box which would contain some experiments (e.g. a mass on a scale) that would go crazy when he dropped the box from a 5 m staircase.
2) The gravitational lenses in teh calssroom workshop where Rosa Ros demonstrated how she uses the base of wine glasses to simulate the effects of gravitational lenses in her classes. Other really fascinating resources can be found on the EAAE’s website.
3) The amazing Mithosis Mamba that Richard Spencer got us all to dance in the “wake up session”. This was an hilarious and very clever way to memorize processes and I can’t wait to make my own dances to teach about physical processes to my classes 🙂
4) The awards ceremony where a number of inspiring projects were given the recognition they deserved:
– High Speed/slow motion –> Micheal Vollmer, Klaus-Perter Mollmann Germany
– Colourful Science –> Catherine Tattersall Ireland
– Thermoelectric Solar Energy –> Inma Abad, Pere Compte Spain
– Cosmi Wants to Know –> Ida Regl Austria
– Studying Chemistry with Pliny the Elder –> Gianluca Farusi Italy
– From Rainbows to the Chemistry of Colours –> Elias Kalogirou Greece
– See the sound, hear the light –> Jan Pavelka, Ondrej Pribyla Czech Republic

With this Blog post I will start a series of posts on the ASUS Transformer Tablet and I am actually writing from one of these right now. This post is about First Impressions… in fact, my brand new Tablet arrived just yesterday and I already love it.
I am in a hotel room in Copenhagen representing Britain, together with other Science Educators (mainly from IoP), at the Science on Stage Europe Conference and, while I would normally have taken my laptop and iphone out and used them extensively by now, I have mainly used my Transformer so far and my laptop has not come out of its case yet.
I will post on more specific issues in this series, e.g. how I used the ASUS Transformer for work and leisure and how my three boys are responding to it, but for now here are my first impressions.
Great features:
1) The full QWERTY keyboard and touchpad are just out of this world! I probably would not be bothered writing this post with a Tablet, if I hadn’t this feature. Docking the tablet just makes life a million times easier and it is so quick to navigate apps and the internet with a mixture of typing from the keyboard and swiping of your fingers on the screen, a perfect match! Quite amazing is also the extra battery the keyboard gives you, as well as extra ports, etc…
2) Flash!!! At last I own a fully portable device that actually allows you to browse the internet freely. I was showing the Tablet to my friend and colleague Neal at lunch time and we started to talk about NGfL Cymru resources (the company I work for) and eChalk (one of our Partners). As both have resources based on Flash I could still show Neal all our stuff without the frustration of pointless blocks… He was well impressed and I gained a convert 😉
3) Front and back camera! Really handy and quite impressive quality. This is a photo of my stand at the conference taken with the Transformer.

This is the first time I upload a photo in my blog directly from a mobile device and I have to say that ASUS has made it surprisingly easy 🙂

Not so great:
1) The docking station isn’t that easy to fit and it seems to get disconnected quite easily, but that could be just me having to get use to it.
2) The interface, though very sleak and pleasing in design, isn’t as intuitive as I was hoping. It took me a while to get round a few things, but that will get better when I will have had more time to play 😉

Overall, I am absolutely delighted to have such a lovely device to use and I am very pleased with how much easier it is making my life already, e.g. one thing I haven’t mentioned was the ease of downloading documents, like rich pfds, directly on the Tablet and how useful it was to be able to read the programme of the event on the plane before getting there!
Look out for my next blog post on this new breed of high-tech Transformers 😉

Reading this excellent blog post from @Chickensaltash and the more complete article from TES rekindled my passion for Tablet PCs in the classroom. Though I believe IWBs are a great tool to enhance Teaching and Learning and I agree with Dan Roberts when he tweets that we have to do with what we have got, I find it difficult to understand why very few schools went down the road of installing Tablet PCs instead of IWBs (I am talking about schools that installed IWBs after the first boom and when Tablets were already well known). Here are my thought on why I believe Tablets are a much cheaper and more versatile option.

1. I bought my first Tablet (a Toshiba Portege’) 2nd hand for £400, my second one (Toshiba Tecra M7) new for £800 and my current Toshiba Portege’ M400 for £890. This is to say that they are quite cheap. In fact, most schools would have at least a projector per department (if not per room) these days, so a tablet PC is all you need to go with it to have a fully interactive kit to share with your pupils. Buy a normal PC/laptop and you still have to buy a multi-k £ whiteboard. Moreover, the newest Tablets are multitouch, giving a more interactive experience than some IWBs.

2. Tablets are fully portable. Ever had to fight to book the only room with IWB in the department? And having to put up with the dirty looks of the teacher (often the least likely to actually bother using an IWB and that uses it as a post-it holder) being kicked out from his class? It is understandable that departments start with what they can afford, but this unpleasant situations would be avoided if the department had bought two Tablet PCs for the price of one IWB (and you still have to buy a PC/laptop with the IWB, so you might be able to fit three Tablets for the same price). This way it is the Tablet that moves rooms, not the teachers. This is a lot better for everyone (teachers and students) and the lesson can start on time.

3. You can’t pass an IWB around, but you can send the Tablet around the classroom for the pupils to use and contribute actively to the lesson (well, you either need a very long projector cable, or a wireless projector).

4. You can place your Tablet PC wherever you want, so you can stand away from the line of view of the children and you don’t project your shadow on the screen. The latter is really annoying for both the audience and the person using the IWB, because it makes it really hard to write, as you don’t actually see what you are writing (I know there are some projectors that project right from the top of the board and get rid of this problem, but I have seen hardly any in the schools I have visited).

5. You can actually work on your interactive resources even when you are away from your classroom, as a Tablet PC allows you to write on the screen just like you would do on an IWB. It’s just not as big and as heavy! I have used it to annotate and mark pupils’ electronic work, draw mind maps (one example on my previous blog), etc, and obviously get my pupils engaged with the same rich experiences.

6. You can download free software for IWB on your Tablet PC. KindleLab is an example, but you can also try the free trials from Promethean and SmartBoard to compare and then decide to buy the software if you want, so your Tablet PC is just as good as an IWB on the Software front.

I really think Tablet PCs are a fantastic tool in Education and I wish more schools used them. I thought they deserved at least a mention in the TES article, but they didn’t, so I felt the need to write about them and share what a great asset they have been in my practice.