In some of our year one lectures we encourage students to send text messages as a means of asking questions. We have also used text messaging for in class voting. Text messages sent by students may be forwarded to the academic’s email account for ease of access and to avoid having to log in to a separate system to read messages. However, in trying to cope with incoming messages during a lecture session this requires a separate laptop to access email or to have an email programme active on the presentation PC. This presents its own problems as the content of messages might be shown to the entire class albeit inadvertently thus compromising confidentiality.
The mail feature on the iPod Touch / iPhone provides a lightweight and discreet solution to this problem. Staff can have email literally in the palm of their hand and quickly monitor for incoming messages as the lecture proceeds. This of course relies on wireless internet access within the lecture theatre for the system to work optimally and should be checked out before implementing a major exercise using mobile technology.
Email is something we are all to familiar with but I would be interested to hear if others are putting email to more “interesting” uses.
This post was mostly inspired by a tweet from Michael Seery where he descibed how a colleague used an iPhone to send audio feedback to students.
Having used audio feedback (mainly Audacity to create the MP3 and then send via email) for some time now I thought the iPod Touch would be worth investigating for the task.
Using the “Voice Memos” function feedback may be easily recorded and as the earphones supplied with the device have microphone capability you have all the equipment you need for the job.
Once feedback has been recorded the file is automatically saved and then can be shared by email. There is also the possibility of doing some light editing by “trimming” the file.
The output file is in the *.m4a format which can be opened in iTunes. It will not play in windows media player however (as far as I can tell) so please make sure that your students are aware of this. Something else to be aware of is that the Voice Memos app is not available on the first generation iPod touch.
I have done some audio recordings on the iPod Touch and the sound quality is excellent. Obviously this is the wrong time of year to be trying the technology with students but I do plan to give it a go in the next academic year. I would be glad to receive any advice from practitioners regularly using the iPod Touch / iPhone to record student feedback.
Lots more on audio feedback can be found on the A Word In Your Ear 2009 – Audio Feedback website and in the communication; Making Small Talk — Audio MP3 Files Made More Portable.
I have recently acquired a 32GB iPod touch to be investigated mainly for its use in a higher education context. I intend in this occasional series to reflect on the various features and applications that I have found to be useful. By implication these applications this will also apply to the iPhone but the plan is to talk about features that apply to both.
In the first of this series I want to briefly mention the “notes” application which comes as standard on the iPod touch.
I have found this feature to be most useful; in fact I am using it to write these reflections during a quiet moment in an examination board session as I wait for another course to be considered! Do these things ever run to time?!
Admittedly it is unlikely you will write a book chapter using this app but to capture ideas or make a quick note to yourself, it then comes into its own.
In a teaching and learning context notes could be used to make rapid feedback during practical classes or at presentations where background noise or the very disruptive nature of doing so might preclude recording audio feedback.
The beauty of this app lies again in the handiness of the iPod technology which is much more portable and more readily coaxed from standby mode than even the most agile laptop PC or netbook. Notes captured on this app may be emailed either to a group for feedback or to your own email account for use in other applications.
My uses or suggested uses are given in the list below.
Notes for feedback at student presentations
Notes for feedback during lab classes
Writing blog posts or sections of papers during spare moments
Notes during conference lectures if you are not tweeting!
Of course there are also situations where students could use these devices to record their reflections or for learning purposes. If readers are using Notes for other things in an education context, please add these as a comment below.
The following video from Stanford University was recently brought to my attention by @ggrosseck on Twitter. This is an excellent example of an iPhone App used in a collaborative way, but the possibility of global networking is most impressive. While the application here applies to those in the music field no doubt this idea could be replicated by mobile learners in many different disciplines.