Thursday, October 16, 2008

On Education Applications, Ipods, Iphones and Stanford.

As was widely predicted the introduction of third party  applications (via  Apple's ITunes store) has enhanced the appeal of the iPod and iPhone. No longer is the iPhone a strictly walled garden. In the same way that gadgets can be placed on the iGoogle desktops, or widgets can be placed on the Mac dashboard, applications can now be placed on both the iPod touch and iPhone.

Applications are neatly filed in the iTunes store under a range of nineteen categories.
The filing system is not that helpful but it is enhanced by the customary "New", "What's Hot" and "Staff Favourites" sections. Eager browsers may also find themselves attracted by the "Top Paid Apps" and "Top Free Apps". Reviews of the applications are provided to help in app choice but as ever  "Caveat emptor" should be the eager shoppers motto.

The list of Education Apps makes for interesting reading. At present it consists of fourteen pages, each carrying twenty one apps! Some of these are free, some are lite (demo versions with limited features) and some cost. The cheapest are 59p, the most expensive I have noticed to date are £23.99.

As I browsed through the store two Ed Apps caught my eye.

 A company called Modality Inc provide "Zollinger's Atlas of Surgical Operation, Gastrointestinal: Upper", which is described as;
"The classic guide to general surgery procedures ... now available for the iPhone and iPod touch ...... Using the intuitive iPhone interface, you can navigate through detailed images with the flick of a finger, pinch to zoom, and tap to read easy to follow instructions for each procedure" !
I am so tempted to purchase one of Modality's products just to see what it looks like.

Here is a company working to embrace the use of mobile technology in teaching and learning. "Modality, we make small screens smarter, The Titles you Trust on the Screens you Love" have a developing range of titles  for medical students and professionals. Also they seem to be preparing to release Cliffs Notes which I remember from my days of studying literature. Impressive stuff. Think how many teenagers / young people / students have ipods/ iphones. If the applications are as good as they appear to be, think of the market!

The second application that caught my eye, was a free one. I came across the 8.4MB of code that is "iStanford" an application that slipped into the store on October 4th.

The application description says;
"iStanford is Stanford University in the palm of your hand.
Search the Stanford directory, search campus map, find and bookmark courses, and get scores, schedules, and news for all Stanford varsity athletics teams. All from your Iphone or iPod touch"

It continues.......
"Coming soon
Register for classes, View your course and grade history (this and previous terms), View your University balance, past statements and transaction history, Login to view private Stanford information"
This I have downloaded, and explored and it is an impressive application. Having explored the Stanford app I searched the web and discovered the following (in no particular order)
I was led to the iTunes App store by my new iPhone, but I'd missed the point. When I first saw the iStanford app my initial question was how many students at Stanford own an iPhone?

It was the wrong question.

The questions we need to ask are

  • What applications are we building in the UK for our students?
  • What applications are our students building for themselves?
  • How quickly could we in the UK introduce a course like the iPhone Programming Course at Stanford?

What's to be done?

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