Sunday, 31 October 2010

Posterous + iPod apps

Recently I've been playing around with apps on my new iPod Touch, enjoying the camera, video and audio recording functions that my previous Gen1 iPod Touch were lacking.

Over the past year or so I have been using Posterous to post reading exercises and student work for an increasing number of classes. It is simple to use and the fact that you can email posts straight to the web makes it great for creating things on the iPod before emailing it up to the class site. The amazing array of apps available for the iPod meaning you can add bells and whistles to your reading passage.

The following are some of the apps I have so far found useful. I use the free version of most of them though they do have paid versions with extra features that I may soon upgrade to.

I have more and more students appearing in class with iPod touches or iPhones and am trying to show them how they can use these devices for 'good' in my class. Some of the weaker students have used these devices to create simple comics or images with speech bubbles and although it doesn't sound like much, it is so much more than they have done before.

Comic Touch Lite (free)

  • Add speech bubbles (and a couple of effects) to your photos. 
  • In class: students can take photos of themselves before adding captions to the photos in the target language (Japanese). We did this during the 'Daily Routine'. You could also have students search for images of people, take a screenshot (by holding down the 'home' and 'on/off' button on the ipod) and add captions introducing themseleves in the target language.

SodaSnap (free)

  • Turn photos into postcards with the image on one side and your written note on the other. Great for writing in the target language and then emailing to your class blog.
  • In class: great for writing virtual postcards on where they have been, what they did, etc. The amount of text is limited but is useful for Junior classes. Connect with other classes using it and have students write comments on each others posts.

PhotoCard Lite (free)

  • Another app where you can create postcards, this one uses Bill Atkinson nature photos. The images are great and although they may not suit what you are writing about, you can write more than will fit into the SodaSnap postcard.
  • This one allows you to send it to yourself via email and also has a 'print-and-mail' service if you want a 'real postcard' to arrive in someone's mail.

Strip Design ($3.99)

  • Use your photos to create comic strips with a variety of templates, speech bubbles and other effects.
  • It's useful to remember that you can use it with any image on your device. Take a screen shot, use an image that you have enhanced via another app or use a map (with directions in the target language). With a little imagination the possibilities are huge.

SonicPics Lite (free)

  • This is something akin to a "Photo Story" type application. You can record audio over images and create a slideshow.
  • In class: you could use it for listening and speaking exercises, describing images (people or places) or giving directions on a map. Describe daily routine, a holiday, your family and so on.

StoryKit (free)

  • Create little electronic storybooks with pictures. This app is quite simple but an effective tool for writing in any language. Although it does not allow you to email the finished product, it does give you a web link to your product. Great for digital storytelling.
  • This is my little experiment with Mr Happy and the camera on the iPod Touch.

There are a lot of apps out there and because many are designed for having a little bit of fun in English, it makes them extremely useful for helping to engage the students and, in the process, for creating a variety of texts using the target language. Then, once you post them on the class blog / site, they are there for reading practice and for all to admire. Check out how I've done it here.

So, download some free apps that you think might be useful, play around with them and, if necessary, get the paid for version before showing the students how they can be used to help them engage with the target language and improve their ability to use it.