Well it finally happened, my birthday came along recently and my wonderful partner Vicki thought I should be given something special to celebrate another passing year, an iPhone. Serendipitously our mobile supplier had also just become retailers of the iPhone for the 1st time so it was onto the net to select the model we might both have, (ah yes Vicki was to get one as well :)). Straight away we hit a hurdle as even though the phones were advertised for purchase, the supply could not keep up with demand and so for almost a month my iPhone was an iOU. Finally a month or so back I took delivery of a 32Gb white iPhone, (hey white was the only colour available).
A month later and I’ve become quite attached to my little brick and am starting to appreciate more and more the potential both in my personal life and for the classroom. I’m now onto my third screen of apps trying to be discriminating in navigating through a seemingly endless array of ideas and representations that drive the development of the applications. This is proving to be a more difficult task than it might have seemed at first.
For starters there are now more than 85,000 apps in the iTunes Apps store, (BTW my downloads are only a minuscule portion of the 2 Billion downloads from the store). Sadly there is a lot of dross and wannabees amongst the apps too. Many of the educational apps are really repackaged worksheets and/or merely aimed at re-inforcing the regurgitation of facts. Every now and then you come across one or two apps that take advantage of the platform and do things that you can’t do as nicely without the iPhone or iTouch.
Given my advancing age and slow but measured decline into incontinence, the Australian Federal Government National Public Toilet map and associated iPhone app which uses the GPS functionality associated with the phone to quickly identify local public facilities could soon become my most used app. Toilet humour aside, two of my favorites apps of the moment are interactive ones that require thinking choices to resolve problems posed on screen.
Though it’s been around for more than a year, Trace is a real standout activity. It requires the user to plot a path through a range of worlds in order to get a little person from one spot on the screen to a spinning wheel home. The user has control over the direction of movement as well as being able to make the person jump and climb. In addition the user can by swiping over the screen add or erase paths that the screen person can use to reach the goal. Watching a 6 year old playing with Trace for the first time today was a real revelation in seeing first hand problem solving in situ.
Another app along similar lines is Touch Physics. With Touch Physics the objective is to get a wheel to roll to a star. This is done by drawing shapes that manipulate the path of the ball drawing on the laws of physics. Here’s a little movie to show a little of the game in action.
One of the things you soon discover about the world of apps, (which should be self evident from the figures above), is that sorting the wheat from the chaff in terms of app quality and applicability is pretty time consuming. iEAR as listed in my Diigo links previously is one place to check out for support. Three other sites I’ve begun to check through are Appsaurus, iPhone/iPod Touch Apps For k-12 and iPhone and Kids. Appminer which is also downloadable an app from the iTunes Store is another useful source of up to date apps.
All in all, and apart from the fact that my provider 3 somehow managed to provide me only with an introductory 30 day access internet plan, my iPhone has become another means to escape doing real work. BTW every now and then I also use it make phone calls as well.
On the score of apps, (notwithstanding the repositories I’ve already listed above), I would love for readers to share their faves. I will continue to add more to this blog and my Diigo account.