Beginning with the iPad: apps for student research

We’re starting a second phase of our mini-pilot with iPads by looking at how students use the iPads academically, and of course my specific  interest lies in how they can be utilized throughout the research process.

We’ll be doing some before and after surveys with students and testing out some apps but as a teaser, a few that I have found helpful are below:

Brainstorming/Ideawallets   This is one of my favorite brainstorming tools that I’ve run across so far.  It has a countdown timer, and the student is provided an entry form to type in the words they brainstorm.  When the timer runs out, the app converts these words to sticky notes which can then be dragged and reorganized and worked with on another screen.  This would be great for having individual students use or to be used (via a projector) with a class or small group.

Paperdesk Lite is a nice tool for notetaking.  It allows you to create several “notebooks” which are stored on a bookcase, and notes can easily be typed, recorded or drawn.

Sundry Notes (which I mentioned in a previous post) is also a good note-taking tools with many other functionalities as well(importing images, adding calculators and graphs, etc.)  One advantage to Sundry Notes is that it can export your notes as PDF, post them to facebook,etc.

One concern with note-taking apps–if iPads are to be shared or checked out or used in a lab, do you bother with these sorts of note apps?  Because obviously you’ll end up with a lot of students’ notes all mixed together or you’ll have to clear all the notes each time the iPads are used.   This is one use of the iPad that makes having a 1:1 use desirable(and there are other reasons as well.) 

One other thing we are doing is making all of our databases and research sites apps on the desktop of the iPad, for one click searching.  We’ll be surveying students about how effective that is for them compared to using them off our website on our desktop computers, but I suspect they’ll find using them on the iPad much more appealing.   Even our online catalog with its pulldown menus works easily from the iPad.

And then we’ve loaded iSourceMLA which I mentioned in my previous post.  We’re still testing out that app and seeing if it’s the best MLA option, since it seems awkward extracting the citation from the app after you’re done.

Slide by Slide is a new app for Slideshare, which allows you to search and view a slide show and share it on twitter or facebook, or via email.  A real downside is that it doesn’ t seem to allow you to bookmark favorite slideshows so you have to search by keyword each time.

When working with the iPad–there is a lot to consider about having it as a checkout-able item versus using it in a situation where each iPad has it’s “owner”(like each teacher having one).   Again, I’ll be sharing some of the logistical issues we discover as we go through the trial.

Looking forward to some feedback from our students on our trial and surveys next week, and I’ll be sharing that on the blog soon.  Today was just more about “exploration” and was interesting watching the first students playing , and seeing them also ponder how they might use it academically and listening to their comments.  They too are wondering how they can use it at school, and finding frustration with a few of the free apps they tried, yet are really eager to explore it and play.  (We are only trying free apps right now, so some of their frustration is the limits of those, which is something worth knowing.)  And of course one student already figured out how to bypass some settings 😉 but that’s to be expected. 

Look for more updates  next week after we work with students more on the library database and research uses.

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