Monday, September 20, 2010

Seeing the power of social media in action.

I am in the midst of a social media barrage, primarily from Twitter. Tonight a fire rages about 15 miles from my home. Friends that live in the area have evacuated or are ready to at a moment's notice. Over 1400 homes in all have be evacuated and at this point there are reports of at least 3 homes burned. Since I started following the twitter hash #Herrimanfire around 10:00 pm, there have been at least 1,500 messages come through. 

The local news covered the fire as a top story, then most when finished went on to regular programming. One station (props to Fox 13 for staying on top of and with the story until 12:30 also they have been a major part of the twitter coverage) just finished reporting for now. On the other hand, one of our local newspapers just tweeted out the top 20 volleyball teams in the state, however nothing about the fire.But the twitter stream continues at a tremendous rate.

The information from the twitter stream has apparently been very accurate and been cited by the news and vice versa. It has been fascinating to observe and participate in this experience. That it is so close to home and even closer to friends makes important to me and those around. Even more interesting is seeing messages come in from around the country from people that have lived in the area or have family in the area. 

It has been an interesting night.


Saturday, September 04, 2010

MathBoard - An App Review

Title: MathBoard
Grade Level: 1-12
Purpose: A-
Program Functionality: A-
Overall Educational Value: A-
Cost: $3.99 Addition Edition Only - $-Free This is an iPad only app.

Recommendation: If you haven't heard me rant against using computers for drill and kill, good, then this review won't sound hypocritical. Those who have, hey, it is that good of an app. Mathboard is an app that allows you to work Math problems. That is the strength of this app. It allows a student to actually work through problems on the iPad.

Let's start at the beginning. When you start MathBoard you can jump right into working problems with the preset settings. You can also change those settings from the main screen. Settings include: Operator Types,Problems, Number Range, Time, and Additional Settings.

Operator Types for this app are Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Squares, Cubes, and Square Roots. So this app can be made very simple for young students and more complex for older students. You can set the number of problems offered in a quiz from 10 up to 250 (wow really). You can choose the answer style the first being Multiple Choice, meh. The other answer style is the exciting part to me, Fill in the Blank. This means that the student is presented with a problem and then they write it on the screen (chalkboard). They can then solve the problem right on the chalkboard.

Once worked out they return to the main screen to input their answer. I really, really like this implementation. They can expand the work area to fill the screen. There are 5 colors of chalk available and an eraser.

Where I will ding this app is in the entering of the answer in this mode. Once a student has solved the equation, they go back to the primary screen where the problem is shown to submit their answer. Here there are two ways to enter their answer, one is to use arrows to flip through digits 0-9. This is pretty straightforward but would take some training for younger students. The second way gets a little confusing. There is a calculator icon that can pick selected to bring up a number pad. You enter the numbers you want and they appear in the answer section. This is where it can get confusing. You enter the first digit and it appears in the far right column. When you enter the next digit that first digit slides to the next position to the left. I think this could get really confusing for students, especially grade 1-4 students. I am not quite sure how this could be fixed but it bothers me a bit.

There is a problem solver that a student can invoke if they are struggling with a problem. I like this functionality as well. The student can step through the problem to see how it is solved. If a student invokes the problem solver that problem is marked incorrect.

Once the student finishes quiz their score can be saved to a history if desired. If a quiz is saved, students can retake the quiz or even just retake the ones they missed in that quiz.

Overall I think the implementation of this app is terrific. I heartily recommend it.

Classroom Use Examples / Ideas: One additional use for this app would just be as a response board in math class.

Developer Website:

ITunes Link: MathBoard

Reviewer Name: Kelly Dumont