Creating content web apps for Religious Education

Leave a comment

Last year it was iWebkit 5. This year it is jQuery Mobile. I’m referring to my journey into the world of web apps, although I do question the validity if the “app” label. What I am trying to do is deliver content and guide learning with the aid of mobile devices, such as the iPod/iPad and smartphones.

I started with my school’s prayer file, which I had converted to a PDF and uploaded to our school’s server. This year, I branched out and created a web version using jQuery Mobile – HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.

I “tinker” with things. I have always done that, even from an early age – meccano sets (I still play with one from time to time.), crystal radios, guitar amplifiers, computers … And now it’s writing “apps” to deliver content for Religious Education.

I am an advocate for disruptive innovation. That is why I am convinced that we are headed in the direction of the deployment of mobile devices in the classroom. Believing this to be the direction of technology in education, I have been working on skilling myself with using my iPad to create web resources for students to access.

At present, I am learning as much as I can about gaining the most from using Touch App Creator. This app uses jQuery Mobile as its base and makes it easy to create the web apps I want to use with my students – well, almost.

Using my iPad, I am able to create apps that look like this:

This is a screen shot of a web app in preview mode. In edit mode, it looks like this:

The following screen shot will reveal some of the functions used in creating the app, which is about people who have worked for justice.

As “web creation” apps go, this one is quite powerful. This screen shot shows some of the functions available for use:

It is quite easy to embed movies in the app that you create. For instance, in an app that was created to introduce students to online aspects of the course I was teaching, I embedded a QuickTime movie about how to join the Edmodo group I had created for them.

What I would like to do is to build apps that have a notebook in them where students can paste quotes and then edit them into a summary of the content they have been working with – and then to email their notes to themselves, or to me – or, better still, to be able to post them to their space in Edmodo.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


What the future holds?

Leave a comment

Do my Year 12s represent the future? Obviously, they do, but so do I. So the future will always have those who want to teach and those who want to learn – and those who are unmotivated. There are some of us who want to argue that technology in the hands of students equals motivation – and there is some anecdotal evidence at least to support this.

So, let’s go for a wander through my classes, starting with my wonderful Year 12s. There are the boys who are looking at cars on their laptops, but that hasn’t changed. I recall Year 12s, 30 years ago, drawing their favorite cars during RE lessons. There are others, some struggling, some working away with ease, producing work that I would have been proud of early in my university life. Occasionally, I come across a student who is far more skilled than I am with creating content with their lap top. And then there is our PhD candidate – I told her that at a Parent-Teacher meeting because I believe it to be true – she’s sitting at her desk with her iPhone in one hand and brio in the other making notes from a resource she has accessed. Most of my year 12s work well about half the time, but they do find it hard to motivate themselves. More about that later, and also some of my “strategies”.

And now we enter my Year 11 class: an engaging group of young men and women. I’m convinced that some have chosen the subject for the wrong reasons and that is why they are spiralling down and often seemingly out of control. We use iPads. I spend my time writing ePubs and web apps for them to use. Like my Year 12s, we use Edmodo as a primary means of communication on the digital front. Most use their iPads well, sometimes taking photos of board work when I become pre-digital, but unlike my Year 11s in 2010, they haven’t discovered the back-channel. I was surprised to find that no one had told them about Fliq Notes when they were in Year 10. The content my Year 11s create is often done using Pages. With group work, they have been publishing directly to our Edmodo page so that everyone can benefit from discussions and research. Posting assignments to Edmodo is becoming more acceptable and I am developing my skills at marking online. The future looks good!

And there are my amazing Year 10s, most of whom will move to other classes for the second semester – not happy, Jan! Lap tops, Edmodo and MentorMob: a recipe for success. Happy, relaxed and respectfully noisy – a great group to be with when you’re older than 64!

I have started delivering content through MentorMob’s playlist. I have been fortunate enough to have been given a Pro account to trial, which was subsequently upgraded to a University account. And MentorMob made me one of their “Innovators” – an honour I will live up to. By the end of the term – a disrupted and chaotic affair – we had reached the point where students were editing our playlist by adding their content. Not every student achieved this, nor every group.

I have found that my Year 10s are not unlike my Year 12s. Those who are “naturally” academic, that is, those who find “school” learning easy make good use of technology to assist their learning. They are easy to motivate because learning is a challenge they enjoy. My challenge for the next 10 weeks is to construct learning opportunities that EVERY student in my classes will enjoy.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad