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Blackboard Collaborate

Mobile Tool Review: Blackboard Collaborate

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This Mobile Tool Review was written by John David Clark, Learning Technologies Trainer and Consultant.

Blackboard Collaborate Mobile App

Blackboard Collaborate is an AU-supported tool that facilitates online participation and coursework.

Cost

Free

Platform

The iOS/iPhone and Android apps are mobile counterparts to the full desktop version.

What does it do?

Collaborate users can participate in 
online web-conferences, complete with the ability to talk, listen,
 chat, see a virtual whiteboard, “raise a hand,” participate in polls, and
 more. Unlike the desktop version, however, there is no ability for users to share video from a webcam, PowerPoints, or other outside programs.

Which class can you use it in?

Any AU Blackboard class.

Advantages

The Collaborate mobile app can launch any Collaborate 
link. It provides mobile functionality for iOS and Android users since it does 
not need Java or Flash.

Disadvantages

Users cannot share or present, and there is no webcam functionality.

Overall Grade

B

Additional Information

TeachersAide Screenshots

Mobile Tool Review: Teacher’s Aide

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This Mobile Tool Review was written by Anna Olsson, Manager of Training, Performance Management and Assessment at the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning.

Teacher’s Aide

Cost

Free

Platform

iOS, available through the Apple App Store

What does it do?

The Teacher’s Aide app allows instructors to take attendance (or indicate if a student is late) through a single finger tap, thus eliminating the need for paper. It also features the ability to save photos of your students, which makes it a lot easier to learn names. It’s a great app!

Which class can you use it in?

I used it in a 200-level Government course, but it can be used in any class where attendance is noted. While it doesn’t help instructors achieve any specific learning goals, it helps keep accurate attendance. It also allows me to see when I need to take action if a student is often late or continually skips class.

Advantages

The app is very simple and intuitive. Best of all, it’s free!

Disadvantages

None

Overall Grade

A

Additional Information

2014 Pilot Year Proposals

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AU’s Mobile Learning Task Force invites faculty proposals that initiate, enhance or assess mobile learning projects as part of the 2014 Mobile Pilot Year program. We especially encourage proposals for tools that are scalable to other courses or disciplines. First-round proposals are due by September 30. For more information, contact Laura March, CTRL’s Coordinator for Faculty Technology Initiatives.

2014 Mobile Pilot Year Proposal Submission Form

 

KeepCalmMobileTabloid

Mobile Tool Review: Leaf Snap

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Leaf Snap allows users to identify 184 tree types based on their leaves.

Cost and Platform

This is a free app but only available for iPhone and Ipad usage. (An Andoid version is underdevelopment.)

Advantages

Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution are working on visual recognition software to help identify species from photographs. Leafsnap is the first in a series of electronic field guides being developed to demonstrate this new technology. This free mobile app helps identify tree species from photographs of their leaves and contains beautiful high-resolution images of their flowers, fruit, petiole, seeds, and bark. Leafsnap currently includes the trees of the Northeast and will soon grow to cover the trees of the entire continental United States.  (Source: Leafsnap: An Electronic Field Guide, http://leafsnap.com/about/)

It is fortunate that the software is available to people in our area since release is limited to a rather small part of the United States.  It is a general tool for identifying tree types so any student with a formal or informal interest in trees can use it.  The technology is based on facial recognition software.  The shape of the leaf is the key to identifying the tree.  However, “from photographs of their leaves and contains beautiful high-resolution images of their flowers, fruit, petiole, seeds, and bark.  Leafsnap currently includes the trees of the Northeast and will soon grow to cover the trees of the entire continental United States.”  (Source: Leafsnap: An Electronic Field Guide, http://leafsnap.com/about/)

The app will be of great interest to faculty and students at American University.  It is a natural device to use in conjunction with the Arboretum at the University and integration into learning objectives.  Tags physically indicate the species on the American University campus, so students can try to identify through the app and have the correct answer right in front of them.

There are also some other types of recognition software coming out to study natural phenomena including birds (Peterson’s bird guide for example), insects, and other animal and plant species.  No doubt it can apply to architecture, urban design, and other layouts subject to type-recognition software analysis.

Disadvantages

The program requires some precision and patience to use.  It is essential to use a white surface to identify to type.  I bring a piece of white paper, pick the leaf, and photograph against this background even in the field.  It is often not sufficient just to shoot the tree against the sky.  This means bring white paper out in the field.

After the picture is taken, it is uploaded to the cloud.  This may involve some delay depending on location on campus versus out in the field.  There are some failures.  Even with a connection, the leaf is not positively identified.  It is linked to a list of ranked possibilities that share the same recognition profile.  I did some tests with trees whose type I knew for sure and it worked as advertised.

The bottom line is you need to know a bit about trees and be able to do some research on the species in order to effectively use the app.  But it is one of the most helpful apps that can help in utilizing citizen data collectors.

Overall

For relevant courses of faculty and students, the app receives an “A-”.  The recognition software is still in initial states.  It requires the user have some substantial knowledge of trees to tie the final pieces of identification together.  It is a potential “A” for use at AU campus tours as a teaching tool.

Other Resources

Edudemic’s List of iOS Apps

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Edudemic recently created a crowd-sourced Listly of the best educational apps available on iOS. From their post:

Education apps are everywhere. But when it comes to apps, you can’t go wrong if you start with iOS. So that’s what we’ve done. Below is our curated list of hand-picked iOS education apps. See one that you like? Vote for it! Want to add one? Just log in and add away! We’ll be keeping an eye on the list so no spam, please.

View the list