Interactive Teaching with NearPod

This blog post consists of notes from the recent workshop: ‘Interactive Teaching with NearPod’. This workshop was the fourth in the ‘Teaching with your iPad’ series. The learning objectives for this session were to be able to:

  • create lecture content using NearPod
  • share content and control activities with students in a teaching environment
  • monitor individual and aggregate results of students’ NearPod work.

What is NearPod?
NearPod is an app that allows teachers to prepare lessons that combine presentation, collaboration and assessment and then manage how that information is then shared on a student’s mobile device. Teachers create a slide presentation using NearPod and then embed video and add polls, quizzes and activities. This presentation with all of its interactivity can then be delivered synchronously to a class using NearPod or distributed as homework for asynchronous lessons. The results of any polls, quizzes, etc are stored for retrieval by the teacher later on to monitor student performance, opinion, etc.

Pre-workshop homework (asynchronous NearPod use)
Prior to the workshop, participants were sent an e-mail asking them to download the NearPod app onto their iPads from the App Store free of charge. They were then to view an introductory presentation about NearPod using the NearPod app. You can do this now by opening the app and entering the code RAJQN to login as a student. This pincode is generated when the teacher creates a presentation and saves it as ‘homework’. This file demonstrates some of the functionality possible in NearPod presentations (e.g. polls, quizzes, videos) and how NearPod can be used to deliver packages of information for asynchronous learning at any time and any place.

NearPod (synchronous NearPod use)
Ian Miller, The University of Manchester Faculty of Life Sciences eLearning Manager, used NearPod to present in the workshop. His presentation can be accessed by opening the NearPod app and entering the code HJCSQ to login as a student. This pincode is generated when the teacher opens the NearPod presentation in class – it is shown at the top left of the slide for all students to enter into their own devices.

Ian’s presentation demonstrated some of the functionality of NearPod, as well as showing how the teacher can remotely control a synchronous lesson by working through a NearPod presentation. As Ian swiped through his presentation pages the students’ view on our devices also changed. We were able to visualise on the large screen what the teacher sees on his/her computer in comparison to what we, as students, could see. Ian also demonstrated how teachers can ‘push’ the results of interactive quizzes or student work to the student devices as they wish.

University of Manchester staff can view the podcast of this interactive session by clicking here and using their staff ID to login. You might like to login to the presentation in NearPod and flip through the student pages as you watch the podcast and Ian moves through the presentation in the workshop. This will give you a better sense of the interactivity of NearPod.

You might also find it helpful to watch this YouTube video that talks you through the synchronous use of NearPod.

Creating content using NearPod
To create NearPod content, go to their website and login. You will need a user licence in order to do this or you could register for a free trial on the website. Once logged in, click on the ‘create’ button and this will open a page where you will see a box with a blue ‘plus sign’ in it. Click on this box and this will open a new NearPod presentation for you. Once the new presentation is open, you will see a similar box with a blue cross – this is the first page of your NearPod presentation. If you click on this box, you will have the option of importing a PDF as well as numerous other options. If you convert a PowerPoint to a PDF file and upload this PDF presentation from your computer, NearPod will automatically give each slide a new page. It’s that easy! Now that you have the main content uploaded, you can continue to click on the ‘plus box’ to add weblinks, polls, quizzes, etc to your presentation to make it interactive and engaging. To move the pages around you simply click on them and drag to the position you want.

Once you have finished creating your presentation, click on ‘done’ and then the screen that opens will have a few icons that ask you whether you want to ‘share’ the presentation for review by others, set the presentation as ‘homework’ for students to access and undertake asynchronously, or ’publish’ for students to work through the presentation synchronously with you in class.

This YouTube video outlines how to create NearPod content, however, be aware that this has been made using an older version of NearPod. Although the functionality remains the same, the look and icons are now slightly modified.

Accessing results
Andrew Wilson, an eLearning facilitator from the Manchester Business School, talked the workshop group through how to access results of any polls, quizzes or other interactivity that you set up in a NearPod presentation. First you need to go to the NearPod website. Again, you will need to be logged in. This time click on the ‘assess’ button. You will be able to see individual student results, as well as pie charts of overall results.

You can either view your data online, or you can convert it into a PDF which can be saved elsewhere or printed.

Teaching
Although this is not an exhaustive list, there are a number of useful applications for NearPod in a higher education context:

  • Step-by-step guide in lab work with in-built questions.
  • Large lecture group teaching to increase interactivity and capture information about student understanding (up to 100 before connectivity becomes an issue).
  • Flipped teaching – students do ‘theory’ at home and come to class ready to discuss.
  • Deliver distance learning content.
  • Revision content and practice examinations.
  • Problem-based learning groups.
  • Field trip activities and resources.

Workshop resources
Finally, the following resources have been developed to support this workshop series:

Additional resources
A course is also available through iTunesU on using NearPod.

Next workshop
The next workshop, ‘Building iPads into Student Activities and Assessment’, will take place on Thursday, 20th June at 4pm in the Michael Smith Lecture Theatre. It will focus on the use of the Scoop.It, Mindjet and iMovie apps. On completion of this workshop we hope you will be able to:

  • gather resources in ScoopIt
  • create mind maps using Mindjet
  • create movies using iMovie
  • conceptualise activities and assessments built around these apps
  • identify other apps that have potential use in student activities or assessment.

We welcome comments on this post. In particular we would like to hear any other ideas you may have for using this app in a higher education context.

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Using iBooks and iAnnotate

This blog post consists of notes from the recent workshop: ‘Exploiting existing text resources’. This workshop was the third in the ‘Teaching with your iPad’ series. The learning objectives for this session were to be able to:

  • locate, download and store a journal article for offline viewing
  • annotate your articles
  • organise your journal articles into categories
  • understand copyright implications for using resources in iPad teaching.

iBooks
iBooks is an app that allows you to download books and PDFs so that they can be read on your iPad.

Andy Zarkesh, from The University of Manchester John Rylands Library, led colleagues through some exercises on iBooks using a series of videos. Andy’s iBooks workshop videos (and others) can be found here.

An additional handout that takes you through some activities step by step can be found here (iBooks handout).

For those of you who might have a large amount of PDF files on a laptop or PC that you would like to read on your iPad, you can put them all into a DropBox file which can then be accessed via your iPad. Alternatively, PDFs can be emailed to you and opened in iBooks. To do this you tap on the PDF attachment at the bottom of your email. Once it is open, you then tap the small arrow in a box at the top right of the page and it should open a window that asks you which app you would like to use to open that PDF. If you select ‘Open in iBooks’, the document will be saved to your iBooks library and then open for you to read.

Ian Miller, from the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences e-learning services, gave a very brief overview of iBooks Author to create learning resources, during which he showed Apple’s promotional video. We shall be covering iBooks Author in greater detail at a workshop scheduled for 12th September.

iAnnotate
Ian led colleagues through an introduction to iAnnotate, which is an app that allows you to annotate PDFs, Word and PowerPoint files.

To open a document in iAnnotate, you can download it from cloud storage such as DropBox or from an email. When opening a document attached to an email, go to your iPad email account and open the appropriate email. Tap on the email attachment, which should open the document. Once the document is open, there should be a little arrow in a box in the top right-hand corner. Tap on this arrow and choose the ‘Open in iAnnotate’ option. This will save the document to your iAnnotate library. Tapping on a document in your library will open it for editing.

On the right-hand side of your screen there should be a little tab. Tapping on the tab will open your toolbox for annotating. The following tools should be available to you:

  • Speech bubble – this allows you to add a comment in the document. By tapping on the options bar that will appear at the top, you can change the colour of your comment box.
  • Pencil – this allows you to draw on the page. By tapping on the options bar that appears, you can change the colour of your pencil, erase and undo work.
  • Quill – this allows you to zoom in on a piece of text to write in detail. This facility is also helpful for signing PDFs. Clicking on the options bar allows you to choose the ‘ink’ colour.
  • Highlighter pen – this allows you to highlight certain parts of the text. Use your finger or a stylus to run across the area you wish to highlight. Your highlighted area will have blue dots at either end for you to extend the area of highlight. By tapping on the options bar that will appear at the top, you can select what colour highlight you would like.
  • Abc – this allows you to underline potions of text. Use your finger or a stylus to run across the area you wish to underline. Your highlighted area will have blue dots at either end for you to extend the area of underline. By tapping on the options bar that will appear at the top, you can select what colour underline you would like.
  • Typewriter – this allows you to leave a typed note in the document. By tapping on the options bar at the top you can choose what font and colour you would like the text to be.
  • Toolbox – this allows you to select from additional functions such as:
    –       a wide range of stamps in alphabetical order
    –       a ruler that allows you to draw a straight line
    –       a strikeout function so you can indicate to delete text
    –       a microphone so that you can record an audio comment
    –       a camera so you can insert a photo.

Although this session focused on iAnnotate, there are numerous other apps available that have similar functionality, such as GoodNotes, PDF expert and Notability.

Teaching
Although this is not an exhaustive list, there are a number of useful applications for iBooks and iAnnotate in a higher education context:

  • Paperless personal mobile library for both academic and student.
  • Feedback on draft work – either written or verbal comments (student work, group work, peer review).
  • Annotate handouts (lectures, field work, lab work, work placements).
  • Annotate/critique a journal paper (this could be done as group work for an activity with students).
  • Complete PDF forms (e.g. UCAS forms, grant applications).

There was a question about whether you could use iAnnotate to annotate summative student work and then upload it to Grademark. At this point Ian thought this was not possible, but we will explore this further.

Copyright
Neil Sprunt, from the University of Manchester John Rylands Library Copyright Guidance Service, gave a short presentation on Copyright issues associated with using third-party text and static image resources in teaching. You can view Neil’s presentation with his accompanying notes by clicking here (Copyright Guidance FLS).

All University of Manchester staff with questions related to copyright should first check the university’s Copyright Guidance Service website.

Should staff require further information, they can contact either the Copyright Guidance Service or the Digitisation Team, who are available to help you make sure you are copyright compliant.

A copy of the copyright permission request form mentioned by Neil is available here (Permissions request).

Workshop resources
Finally, the following resources have been developed to support this workshop series:

Next workshop
The next workshop, ‘Interactive Teaching with your iPad Using NearPod’, will take place on Thursday, 9th May at 4pm in the Michael Smith Lecture Theatre. On completion of this workshop we hope you will be able to:

  • create lecture content using NearPod
  • share content and control activities with students in a lecture environment
  • monitor individual and aggregate results of students’ NearPod work.

We welcome comments on this post. In particular we would like to hear any other ideas you may have for using these apps in a higher education context.

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Exploiting existing video resources and creating new ones

This blog post consists of notes from the recent workshop: ‘Exploiting existing video resources’. This workshop was the second in the ‘Teaching with your iPad’ series. The learning objectives for this session were to be able to:

  • locate resources for iPad teaching using iTunesU, Vimeo and YouTube
  • create a video using the YouTube Create and Stage apps
  • link to the resources in your iPad presentations (Keynote)
  • understand copyright implications for using video and audio resources.

YouTube and Vimeo
Both YouTube and Vimeo can be accessed on the Internet through your PC or through an app for your iPad. Essentially, they are both Cloud storage for videos. There are millions of videos available through both sources; some very well made and informative, and others that are flawed or even just trivial. It is important to make the time to sift through the videos to find some of quality that can be used in your teaching. Use the search facility to search for videos on a particular topic.

It is recommended that you establish a YouTube account. In doing this you will be required to set up a Googlemail account. This will permit you to save any useful videos you find to your own account – that way they will be all in one place for you. Incidentally, should you make any of your own videos and choose to upload them to YouTube, you can adjust the privacy settings so that they are private. *Warning: the default setting is public!

iTunesU
The university has recently signed up to iTunesU, which is a repository of sorts for courses and resources created and used by other higher education professionals around the world. Individual lecturers can choose to make their courses closed or open to the public. A code can be given to students to access closed courses.

An iTunesU app can be downloaded so that this information can be accessible through your iPad.

Additional information about iTunesU, particularly about the iTunesU course builder, can be found here.

University of Manchester video library service
All lecture podcasts and videos created by the university are available through the video library service. For example, the podcast for this workshop is available here. You will need to log in using your university username and password to access all resources.

Unfortunately, at present this library is not compatible with iPads, however an update over Easter will see this become iPad compatible. Videos posted on the library service can be made public or closed. Audio podcasts can also be made available through this service.

Box of Broadcasts
The university has had a licence for Box of Broadcasts (BOB) for a few years. It is a little similar to the BBC iPlayer and can be accessed by both students and lecturers. You need to login using ‘Manchester’. Once you enter this, it will ask for your university username and password. Unfortunately, because these videos use Flash Player, they are not currently usable on the iPad.

Videos on BOB can be cut down and edited if you are just looking for a specific part of a larger video. You can then save this edited part and link directly to it from BlackBoard. BOB allows you to save your favourites. Additional information can be found here.

Creating your own videos
YouTube Capture is an app that enables you to video and edit your video and upload it directly to your YouTube account. You can even add an audio soundtrack. Remember to select the appropriate share setting, as the default setting is for the video to be publicly available. More information can be found here.

The podcast of this session demonstrates how the app works and takes you through this uploading process step-by-step.

Stage is a new app on the market that can take a video or photo from your iPad photobank onto which you can add audio, annotations or labels. Although the app is free, there is a charge of £1.49 to download the facility that allows you to record the video.

The podcast of this session demonstrates how the app works.


How these video-making apps might be used

  • Video or photographs taken during fieldwork can be enhanced by audio and annotations and used as a teaching resource in the lecture theatre or shared with others who did not attend the field trip.
  • Lab work could be videoed and used as a teaching resource or as a revision tool if students are learning how to perform a particular task.
  • Stage could be used in some cases for giving some formative audio feedback to students using annotations.
  • Video with annotation is often good to explain a process to students.
  • Videos could be used to demonstrate bad practice that students are asked to critique.
  • Videos can be used for case studies, for example to bring PBLs for healthcare professionals to life.

Linking to a video from your presentation
If you locate a video on, for example, YouTube, that you would like to show students, you can either provide a link to it, or you can embed the video into your presentation.

Firstly, you need to check whether use of this video is permitted. On YouTube, you will see there is a little ‘share’ button under the video. Click on this to see if sharing is permitted. If it is, you should see a button that says ‘share this video’ and under this there should be a box with a URL. Copy and paste this URL into your presentation to provide a link to the video. If you would rather embed the video so that it plays directly inside your presentation, then click on ‘embed’. This will provide you with a piece of code in the box below. If you are using Keynote on a Mac, you can use this code to embed media in the page under the plus button.

If you have created your own video using your iPad. You can embed this video into your presentation simply by opening a blank slide, tapping the plus button and selecting media. Select the video from your camera roll and this will automatically be embedded into your slide.

Copyright
There was a short presentation on the copyright associated with using video and audio podcasts in teaching. This presentation was created using information provided by Neil Sprunt, from the University of Manchester John Rylands Library Copyright Guidance Service, and from the university’s Copyright Guidance Service web pages. You can see the PowerPoint of that presentation by clicking Copyright for video and audio podcasts.

All University of Manchester staff with questions related to copyright should first check the university’s copyright guidance service website.

Since this workshop took place, the British Universities Film and Video Council have published new guidelines on how to cite audiovisual material. These can be accessed here.

Workshop resources
Finally, the following resources have been developed to support this workshop series:

Next workshop
The next workshop will cover finding and exploiting existing text resources for iPad teaching. It will take place on Thursday, 18th April at 4pm in the Michael Smith Lecture Theatre. On completion of this workshop we hope you will be able to:

  • locate, download and store a journal article for offline viewing
  • annotate your articles
  • organise your journal articles into categories
  • understand copyright implications for using resources in iPad teaching.
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Scoop.it for iPad resources

I have been using the social curator Scoop.it to collect a range of articles and websites with relevance to teaching with an iPad. To access this, please go to: http://www.scoop.it/t/ipads-in-university-lecturing

Lots of interesting information there!

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Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group iPad workshop

I was recently fortunate enough to attend a day workshop with the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG). The workshop explored the growing use of iPads in higher education teaching and looked at the use of particular apps, how apps and iPads are supporting particular areas of learning and student use and perception of smart devices.

Prior to providing a few notes from various sessions on the day, I would like to share a few wise words from Andrew Middleton, Head of Innovation at Sheffield Hallam University and the Chair of MELSIG, who suggested that ‘if you are looking at how iPads can enhance your current learning provision, then you are just going to give yourself more work. What you need to do is consider how iPads can revolutionise your teaching for the better.’

iPads enhancing fieldwork
Presented by Brian Whalley (Queens University Belfast) and Vicky Powell (University of Chester)

For information about their Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Project, click here).

Some interesting ideas and points that came from their session:

  • The livescribe pen and smart book (see a ‘how it works’ video here) allows you to write normal notes with a special pen in a special notebook, which transmits the notes to your smart device for later. Your ‘notes’ can be enhanced with audio files.
  • iPads allow you to keep all your fieldwork photos, notes, videos and audio files in one file by using an app such as Evernote.
  • Skitch app allows you to take a photo and annotate the photo in the field.
  • Splice is an app that allows you to edit videos in the field.
  • Polldaddy is an app that allows you to create a poll and use it in the field.
  • Maps can be downloaded onto an iPad in advance for use in the field.
  • Textbooks can be taken into the field on an iPad.
  • GeoID app maps your location as you go, which is good for information and safety in the field.
  • Proscope (see: www.bodelin.com/proscope/proscope-mobile ) is a wireless microscope for use with iPads in the field.
  • Solar panels (for example, the KudoCase) are available for iPads for remote fieldwork.

Innovative use of apps in the SHU Health Faculty
Presented by Robin Gissing of Sheffield Hallam University

They are using an app called Aurasma to create virtual realities to enhance the learning for nursing students. Nursing students are quite often faced with a mannequin on which to practise skills and their bedside manner. However, at Sheffield Hallam, as the nursing student approaches the mannequin, the iPad starts a video case study that depicts a real ‘patient’ in place of the mannequin. This adds a more personal dimension to the nursing student’s learning.

Accessibility issues are sometimes able to be addressed using transcripts. The Dragon Dictate app is able to convert audio into a text file.

The Coach’s Eye app enables those teaching PE or other sports to video ‘play’ and then play it back to give immediate feedback and annotations to the students. Feedback can be recorded so that students can have this as a take-home resource. This could also have application in assessing consultation skills for healthcare professionals.

Killer apps
This session involved us working in groups to identify the most useful apps to promote collaboration, communication and sharing.

Collaborating apps:

  • Eclicker for feedback on presentations, etc
  • Notability for taking and sharing notes
  • Dropbox for sharing files on a collaborative project
  • Mighty Meeting app allows students to talk to each other and record meetings so they can be emailed
  • Diigo is a social bookmarking app
  • Scoop.it is a social bookmarking app
  • Socrative is a great app to use in place of clickers

Communication apps:

  • Pinterest
  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Turnitin for giving students feedback
  • Scoop.it
  • Skype for videoconferencing on a one-to-one basis
  • Skype Pro allows group conferencing for up to six people
  • Face Time for videoconferencing
  • Fuze Meeting allows videoconferencing and online presentation and seminars
  • Cisco WebEx allows videoconferencing and desktop sharing
  • Voice Thread is a discussion thread app
  • Explain Everything app allows you to put a voiceover on a PowerPoint on a slide-by-slide basis.

Sharing:

  • Google apps
  • Evernote
  • Dropbox for sharing files on a collaborative project
  • Diigo is a social bookmarking app
  • Scoop.it is a social bookmarking app

Post PC students
This session involved a handful of students who are using their own devices at university giving us some insight into what they are using and why.

Helpful apps included:

  • Evernote – note taking
  • iStudiez – at the start of the term you can input your course details, lecture times, assessment due dates, etc and it all syncs into one calendar. It will also draw from your calendar app on your device.
  • Final Countdown – counts down how long until assessment work is due.
  • Wiki Web app – provides Wikipedia information but also demonstrates the web of linked information relating to the search.
  • BlackBoard app – access course information.

Interestingly, the discussion from this group indicated that they would rather bring their own device than be given a prescriptive device by their university.

I hope that these notes will be of use to you. I welcome any comments or suggestions in relation to them. You might also be interested to know that MELSIG is planning further iPad workshops around the country this year.

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Presenting with your iPad

This blog post consists of notes from the first of the ‘Teaching with your iPad’ workshops focussed on the Keynote and Keynote remote apps. Keynote is similar to PowerPoint and allows you to create presentations on your iPad or edit existing presentations made in PowerPoint.

Why use Keynote instead of PowerPoint?
The most obvious answer here is because Keynote can be used on your iPad and allows you to create your presentation on the go – you don’t have to be sitting in front of a laptop or PC.

However, when we all have existing PowerPoint skills, what does Keynote offer that would tempt us to learn to use it rather than sticking with the familiar PowerPoint?

  1. The slide templates in Keynote are much more contemporary and slick than those in PowerPoint. Consequently, your presentation will be much more professional looking and will stand out and catch people’s attention.
  2. Although we would tend to steer away from using too many distracting slide animations when teaching, Keynote does have a wider range of animations and a number are subtle and polished.
  3. Because PowerPoint is more familiar to us, people tend to think it is more user-friendly. However, Keynote has fewer tabs to find your way around, is more intuitive and you can use your hands rather than a mouse to position images, etc. The stylish templates mentioned earlier make it easier for a new-user to produce a more stylish presentation more easily with Keynote than PowerPoint.
  4. The graphics available for presenting data in Keynote are once again more polished than PowerPoint.
  5. PowerPoint was built primarily to present text and static images. Although videos can be linked in PowerPoint, Keynote allows you to embed video files directly into a slide page so that you do not have to leave the slide.
  6. Keynote allows presentations to be turned into podcasts.
  7. Keynote file sizes are smaller than PowerPoint.

How do you use the Keynote app?
Andy Zarkesh, from The University of Manchester John Rylands Library, led colleagues through the following exercises using a series of videos.

Exercise 1 – Editing a PowerPoint file

  • Open the PowerPoint email attachment in Keynote
  • Customise the view
  • Edit some text
  • Add a new slide
  • Insert a text box
  • Format the text
  • Insert bullets and columns

Exercise 2 – Working with images

  • Search for and find an image on the web using Safari
  • Save it to your iPad’s camera roll
  • Insert it into your slide

Exercise 3 (Part 1) – Working with charts and animations

  • Insert a chart
  • Edit the data
  • Show the legend

Exercise 3 (Part 2) – Working with charts and animations

  • Animate a chart
  • Animate a text element

Exercise 4 – Manage Keynote files

  • Duplicate a file to create a template
  • E-mail a file
  • Delete a file
  • Re-name a file

Andy’s Keynote workshop videos can be found here.

An additional handout that takes you through some activities step by step can be found here: Presenting with your iPad handout.

What is Keynote remote?
Keynote remote is an app that can be downloaded to your iPhone or additional iPad. This will allow you to use your phone or additional iPad as a remote for the presentation as you walk around the lecture room. Via this device you will also be able to see any notes you have added to the slides as prompts.

Are there any similar apps?
SlideShark is probably the other most prominent app used for presentations on iPads. There is not really a great deal of difference between their functionality and it is probably just personal preference as to which one you choose to use.

How can Keynote be used in my teaching?

  • Keynote can be used to prepare presentations for lectures or to edit and update existing PowerPoint lectures. If you want to show videos, these can be directly embedded into your presentation.
  • Keynote files can be converted into podcasts that can be uploaded onto virtual learning platforms.
  • If your course is in need of an animated figure to demonstrate a process, you can use Keynote or PowerPoint to create the stages of the animation, using a slide per stage. If using Keynote, once complete, you can email this to yourself as a PowerPoint file and software such as iSpring can be used to convert this PowerPoint file into an animation to be uploaded to your virtual learning environment.
  • If you are planning a short mini online course in support of your face-to-face teaching or even an entire distance learning course, Keynote can be used to storyboard your ideas for the course. Each Keynote slide represents a page of online learning into which you can insert text, add images and links to other websites or documents to the slide. Using slides helps you think more clearly about how to structure the learning and adhere better to best practice for online learning.
  • If your organisation adopts iPads for all students, there is also scope for you to build the use of Keynote into student activities and assessments. Students could be asked to give presentations on a particular subject area or even to create some of the resources outlined above as part of their assessment.
  • Students often also find using Keynote helpful to their revision. They can break their learning down into bite-sized chunks by clumping learning on different topics onto one slide. They can use both text and visuals.

If you have any additional ideas for how Keynote can be used in your teaching or general thoughts or questions relating to Keynote, please feel free to comment on this post.

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Why use iPads in higher education?

The Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester launched a series of workshops on Tuesday entitled ‘Teaching with your iPad’. The aim of the workshop series is to equip teaching staff with the skills to use their iPad to innovate their teaching and provide students with an engaging and informative learning experience. But why are we exploring using iPads to teach in higher education?

One could argue that iPads lessen the need to print reading material, so they have a positive environmental impact. One could also argue that student expectations are evolving with technology and therefore higher education institutions need to keep up to date. Primarily though, we are looking at the use of iPads in higher education teaching because the research to date (this is a new area so research is somewhat limited) and experiences to date would suggest that it makes good pedagogic sense. In fact, so popular is the iPad in some teaching and learning circles that the term ‘padagogy’ is making its way into mainstream use.

In a nutshell, iPads and apps offer new possibilities in teaching. In fact, The University of Manchester’s own social work lecturers have found that iPads have impacted so much on their teaching that they are currently re-examining their curriculum and the way they deliver it. One example of new possibilities in teaching might be the use of apps such as NearPod and Socrative when teaching large lecture groups of approximately 300 students. These apps enable these large lectures to become a more interactive, rather than didactic, experience as students engage with their individual devices during the course of the lecture. These apps also have the potential to store data for the lecturer about the group and their responses to questions asked during the session. If using a Twitter stream while teaching, students in large lecture groups can also use their iPads to ask questions of the lecturer, which is often difficult in such an environment.

The danger in the case of any technology-enhanced learning is that those of us who are not specialists in this area allow technology to dictate the learning, when in fact the technology must serve the learning. With so many bells and whistles at our disposal we often feel compelled to use them, when in fact this can detract from the learning experience. Educational apps, for the most part, focus on discrete areas of learning (see for example the iCell and 3D Brain apps, which are free to download). Working in conjunction with educationalists, the app builders consider how the technology can best deliver the learning required, which ensures the app is sound both educationally and in its use of technology.

iPads can be used anytime and anywhere, which also allows for greater contextualisation of learning. Students undertaking work placements (e.g. The University of Manchester medical students) or attending field trips can carry in one portable device reference books, numerous relevant apps, a GPS, communication tools, a camera and an audio recorder. For additional information about how some iPads are being used in fieldwork, click here.

Their portable nature and ability to tap into our e-mail, social networks, the internet and reference material has enabled iPads to bridge the gap between work, study and our personal life. Consequently, it could be suggested that iPads are promoting study habits for lifelong learning.

Finally, iPads enable students to personalise and become co-creators of their learning. For example:

  • the creation of information is as a simple as pushing a button to take a photograph of a specimen, videoing a short laboratory experiment, recording a lecture
  • apps can be used in collaborative or individual projects to create information for peer review or assessment purposes
  • reference material of interest to the student can be downloaded and stored
  • information can be shared with like-minded students through social networking sites.

Wider reading would suggest that the possibilities are endless – especially as new apps are being released on a daily basis. The difficulty is keeping up with these developments and possibilities. In the UK, the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) is running some very informative days on iPad use in higher education. I recently attended one and hope to post about my day and what I learned sometime soon.

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A new day is dawning: iPads in HE teaching

iPads and other tablet devices are revolutionising teaching in schools, colleges and HE institutions around the world. Apps are changing the way students learn, experience fieldwork, receive their feedback and organise their learning.

This blog has been established to support lecturers from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester (UK) as they move through a series of workshops looking at teaching in higher education using iPads. The intention is to explore apps and consider ways in which they might be used in a higher education context.

This group welcomes suggestions and comments from others, nationally and internationally, who are also trying to stay abreast of an area that is constantly changing.

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