Tag Archives: tech

right where i left off – learning with online ads


i spent some time looking at laptop bags ad boots recently and I’ve noticed that as i browse around to different websites, the flash ads that i’ve gotten so used to avoiding are a lot smarter that i’ve given them credit for. as i was reading the local sports pages, i saw that one ad was showing me a list of the most recent boots i checked out on one site and a list of laptop bags i looked at on another. pretty cool, even if we’re talking about website advertising.

there are some pretty serious privacy implications here, and i’m not sure this would always be a useful thing; i just happened to see two ads that had immediate relevancy to me. but i’m stuck wondering about how can this be translated this to teaching and learning online? what if you could login to your course management system of choice (moodle, blackboard, sakai, edmodo, schoology, etc.) and see a listing of recently viewed course material? or what if you went to a class blog and was able to see all the articles that you read recently — not just the standard display of recent posts or comments? or, and maybe this is where privacy concerns really need to be noted, but what if you could see an automatically-updating list of what other students in your class were reading, somehow restricted only to that subject matter.

earlier this year, I purposely didn’t direct students to an article on a local new york city website that was a hop, skip, and a jump to some inappropriate material; rather than link directly to the article, i put up a pdf of the single-page print version of the article. but everything (and everyone) is so hyper-connected that it could be useful to see where someone ended up after an assigned reading. did they immediately go off-track or did they follow links to related articles? if the latter, it would be useful to somehow catalog those related articles for the benefit of an entire class. 

i haven’t given this enough thought — ten minutes ago i was reading about the superbowl and got distracted by an ad. but i think there’s potentially some good stuff here, though i haven’t given enough thought to all the hows and what-ifs.

this reminds me… i hope those boots come before the next big storm.

a tale of two solar system #ipad apps

so yesterday, i bought two solar system ipad apps — solar system for ipad (from the makers of the elements, an amazing periodic table app for the ipad) and solar walk (from the makers of the excellent star walk). the elements and star walk are both excellent applications, so i had high hopes for both. being about ten bucks cheaper, i was hoping that solar walk would be the better app.

my champagne tastes won out over my beer budget*, because i really like solar system. and maybe this is really picky, but my inital reaction when testing out solar walk was, “wait a minute. this thing has pluto as a planet. maybe this is an old app.” but pluto hasn’t been a planet for a long while, and there is no room for this kind of inaccuracy. 

solar walk is nice. i think most astronomy is beautiful and this is no exception — well, except for jupiter, which scares the pants off of me. always has. the models of the planets are great, the as is the way that they cast realistic shadows based on their location relative to the sun, and also the way you can travel by “rocketship” from planet to planet. it shows a good amount of info per planet and in general is a very good app.

except that solar system absolutely blows it away. the initial layout is similar to how the periodic table is laid out in the elements, very clean and easy to find everything, and then you’re put in a linear layout that goes into way more detail per planet than solar walk gives you. and THEN you can jump into a solar system view that gives you everything that solar walk does but a little more nicely.

interestingly, the elements and solar system are both classified as books instead of apps in the ipad app listings. they’re both a little on the pricy side, but both totally worth it. if THAT’s the model for interactive books on the ipad, then ipad publishing is going to work out just fine. solar walk is a good application, too, but given the choice, i’d pick solar system every time. they’re almost exactly the same, but there’s a clear winner.

and the winner correctly shows pluto as a member of the solar system but not a planet. 

*that’s not really true. i’d really take beer over champagne any day. just not this time.