Best Smart Phone apps 2017

Because we all need new smart phone apps! We do. Developers are highly productive and becoming more creative and so it pays to check from time to time to see if there are apps which will improve and enhance your life and productivity. Phones are becoming more the must have device because they can now control and manage so much as well as serve their function as a communications device. Both android and iPhone are offering some really good new apps this year. PCMag has 100 new apps for android phones you can have a look through . popularmechanics has 23 iPhone apps for your consideration and then the video offers some more. Have fun!

Do you instagram?

instagram Bit of an Instagram tragic with only 6 followers but that will change. I started off really slowly on Twitter too and have never looked back. I was advised by the people I asked to set my account to private and let others ask to follow me. I have been on Instagram since the very end of last year. It happened by accident as most social media experience does with me. It is great. A few years back , before the internet , there was a big trend in frozen moments where you could buy ornaments of milk pouring, a glass of beer and so on.

Image : Fake Food Decor

milk pouring ornamentWe have always savoured the moment as a human race: watching the waves rolling into shore, seeing birds play in the trees, watching ants crawl up the pergola post. It has always amused and soothed us. Instagram is like that for me. It values the moment. It creates something special from something ordinary. It makes you appreciate the good things in your life. Like when I was sitting out the back the other day and the sun was shining and the whole image was just beautiful. I Instagrammed it. It is a good way to learn languages because no one writes a lot and so some people use it to post things to help others learn their language and bit by bit you learn. It is used for advertising and marketing but there is something more personal and artistic about it. You get to know working people more. You can see their desks, their designs, their plants and coffee, their view from the window. It would be a good way for students to document research projects and long term pieces of work. It would be a good way for teachers to document their day  or week and reflect on it. There is more of an artistic sense on Instagram and to Instagram your day or your week without the people stuff – we have laws in SA which preclude that- would make you take a positive look at any journey through time. At the moment I am posting one photo , at least , a day. Before it was 4 a week and before that I was far too random. Reading my feed on Instagram gives me positive input . Like any social media site it is important to choose the right people to follow so your feed is an inspiration.backgarden

Instagram only runs on mobile phones and tablets and they pride themselves on that. In terms of social justice, equity and accessibility I am not sure it is a good idea to be that rigid. Having said that, I find it is making make good use of my smartphone. It is a very positive and practical use of the phone. I have used Dropbox to get photos onto my iPad or Phone so I can post them from my laptop or desktop. It has also meant I have a lot of really positive images on my phone which I can share with people when I see them. That has been a bonus spin off of Instagramming.

1,500 times a day?

What is the matter with people? Why would you want to pick up your smartphone more that 1500 times a day? Apparently that is what the average smartphone user does. Read the article. If this is you, you really need this smartphone ergonomics video which I got via The Ergonomic Times. Good luck.

Mark with your smartphone

If you are thinking you are too small to make a difference – try getting into bed with a spider. Walter Duncan is a teacher who had a great idea and used technology to make it a reality. He crowd sourced support and funding so that he could make his idea a very innovative and practical reality for so many teachers. Much time can be spent in some subject areas grading quizzes and short answer questions. The Quick Key app is designed to take the strain away and to put our smart phones to very good use by lightening our load. I loved the video when I saw it. It is funny but also demonstrates just how mind numbing marking test answers / quizzes can be. I haven’t yet thought of a good use for it in French. I don’t like multiple choice answers because you then give wrong answers and I like to ensure I am keeping correct versions in front of learners. I had thought, though, I might be able to make aural comprehensions an easier and more effective task if I design some with multiple choice answers. Listening skills are vital in a language and I could well develop some quick and pertinent ones. Walter Duncan (@4_teachers) is very genuine and enthusiastic and will answer any questions you have in a helpful way. You can get more information on the Kickstarter project site. The free app is available here.

Generation Touch

Generation Touch is already here. We already have students who have grown up on touch screens and we have parents whose children are using touch devices at the age of one and two. You do not have to do much investigating to discover generation touch will engage easily with these devices at a very young age and find them very shiny. If you look further it is at the cognitive interaction level. They are touching and swiping and using gestures to fill in gaps, hear sounds , perform tasks at the automatic level of cognitive interaction as you would to turn on a switch , brush your teeth or run through a series of exercises. It means as teachers we need to get them onto the explicit interaction level to truly engage with these devices and use them as real learning and thought development tools. They may also be a step on the way to real technological interaction and engagement in much the same way many children’s and educational toys are. Just because it is a device doesn’t necessarily mean it is better than Lego , Meccano ,board games or computers in terms of child and brain development. We need to ensure these students are being as well educated as any generation before them and encouraged to think and develop their skills. Both the video and this article from Tech Cruch – Generation Touch will Redraw Consumer Technology give food for thought. As teachers we need to put our educational theories together with our new approaches and then look at what the outcomes are. We need to do that now or we shall have classrooms run by consumer tech and not educational tech and we shall have the marketing done by companies and media rather than educationally driven companies and educators. It is important for us to know the strengths and limitations of devices and then to know which devices fit into which areas of learning and thinking development.

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