Device Distraction (via Tom D’Accord)

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Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) posted this piece today by Tom D’Accord, and it addresses nicely something that I myself believe and have written about (here). What I liked that D’Accord added was his piece about the public display of student work and its effect on that work. That is one of those things that is always on my list and that I never quite get around to doing. So I’m hoping that this piece will encourage me to pursue that more next year.

The Case for Restoration or The Cure for Device / App Overload

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I’ve officially accumulated enough devices that I needed to make some changes (worse problems to have, I realize). The hoarder in me doesn’t like to get rid of things but rather to reappropriate them for more specialized uses. So those old iPod Classics (you know, with the scroll wheel from the 17th century)? They become specialized storage units for academic materials collected online (MOOC lectures, iTunesU, etc.) so that I don’t take up space on my smaller-storaged devices but also don’t have to manage and remanage syncing when I want to change content.

It’s also interesting to see how different devices self-select into different functions. That iPad 1 / Original iPad (yes, still have that kicking around)? That has become the workhorse of the device family, the offensive lineman of the device team. It’s the one that comes to the gym and goes on the elliptical, that plays music while I’m painting, and that scores the softball games for my team (in the dust and rain; and, yes, I do put it in a Ziploc on rainy days, through which the touch screen still works). The iPad2 with the ZaggFolio keyboard? That’s the productivity device, where I am at my most efficient and productive. And the iPad Mini? That’s the classroom one, portable and versatile.

But back to the Original iPad. As the original, it was also the most cluttered / crowded. It was the one that took the brunt of app fever, when every app seemed like it was going to change your life and you had to have it. Over the years, the whole thing had become unwieldy. Now, of course, I could delete apps, and rearrange them, file them and organize them, either on the iPad itself or on the computer via iTunes. But that seemed more trouble than it was worth, especially from a mental standpoint of making those decisions about what to keep and what to cull.

So I started over. I wiped it clean. Hit that restore button, hit that setup as new iPad button, reentered my iTunes ID and was off and running. And I can’t tell you how much more pleasant an experience it is. I have two screens (and I wish I had thought to screen shot the pre-restore screens) now. The second one is largely the entertainment one: the games, basically. The first one has Settings plus five folders, with six apps in the dock. Clean, easy, pleasing.

It’s a bit like the empty inbox syndrome, that theory that you don’t realize the comfort and ease of an empty inbox (which doesn’t, by the way, imply that everything is done, but rather suggests managing the inbox such that everything has a place) until you have one. Similar to the iPad. The cleanliness and crispness of a stripped down, focused device has a nice effect on one’s interaction with it.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, cut the cord entirely. Restore, and enjoy the quiet.

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Google Getting into the LMS Business Postscript

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Did some perfunctory poking around about GoogleClassroom. Seems like nothing too unexpected (that doesn’t mean bad): sounds like they’re bringing a structure to Docs and other apps that will let teachers organize into classes, facilitate communication, etc.

They are offering a pilot request, if teachers want to try it out in the next month or two, though the implication is that only certain teachers will be given access (and I didn’t see any info on how those decisions will be made).

In any case, if you’re interested, here’s the link: I did sign up for it, so we’ll see what comes of it.

Google Getting into the LMS Business

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Saw this on Twitter (thanks, @mjsamburg and @candidlibrarian) and figured it was worth passing along. Haven’t read / investigated / watched the video yet but will hopefully get to that and more info to post this week. Interesting, though. We’ll see. I find Google’s endeavors to be somewhat hit or miss (i.e. love Gmail, hate Docs / Drive, etc.), so interesting to see where this one falls (and whether or not schools with GoogleApps, like we are, will be more apt to take advantage of it).

Notability Apple’s App of the Week and So Free: Worth It

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Notability is a note-taking app that integrates notepad-type features (drawing, sketching, etc.) with .pdf-reader type features (mark-ups). I grabbed it maybe a year ago and have enjoyed using it: I don’t take notes per se on the iPad too much but have used it to great effect as an annotator. Apple has apparently made it the app of the week which means it is free for the next seven days; here’s the web link for the app. And here’s the MacRumors article that talks about the app a bit more in depth.

I’ve included below an image of what I perhaps use it most for, which is home improvement projects, or any project in which a live shot could use some annotations. (Notability exports as a .pdf, so I include a screen shot of the image portion of the .pdf and then a link to the full .pdf.)

(And we’re refacing the mantle and selling the hutch.)

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 12.22.11 PM And this is the full note.

A similar use:

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