Thursday, April 1, 2010

SonicPics for iPhone/Touch: Easy Narrated Slide Shows & FREE Today Only!

I'm pretty jazzed about the possibilities of SonicPics for learning!  And this app is FREE today only (no joking!).  If you have an iPhone or Touch check this one out!

If you are regularly use images in your teaching or have been looking for a simple way to engage students in the content-creation of narrated slideshows, this may be a turning point for you.  As an art history instructor, I regularly used screencasting software (Profcast, Screenflow and Jing) to create .mp4 files of still images combined with narration.  This app makes this process a cinch and extends the learning into mobile experiences.

I downloaded SonicPics about 15 minutes ago and created a simple slideshow narration on my iPhone and then "shared" it (through my wireless network) to my computer. The integration was amazingly simply.  I was given a url to open on my computer and when I did, there was a thumbnail of my slideshow.  I just had to download it and it was then on my harddrive in a matter of seconds.  I also have the option to share it to YouTube from the app (which I was required to do in order to share it here -- apparently, Blogger no longer provides the option to upload videos from your hard drive..errrrr.)

Pretty nice for a production that took no more than a few minutes!

Now what I'm left with is a longing for 100% student access to the internet through a mobile device, which in this case would need to be an iPhone or Touch.  I am feeling that we're going to see a significant increase in mobile learning for students who can afford to attend private colleges.  This week Seton Hill, a private college in Pennsylvania, announced that they're providing free iPads to all new incoming students.  This follows the lead of Abilene Christian University which provided free iPod Touches to students last year to explore the potential of mobile devices in college learning.  This video shares an interview with a Kenneth Pybus, assistant professor of journalism and faculty adviser of the Optimist student newspaper at Abilene Christian University, explores the ways that mobile devices are changing the way students access information.

Smartphone penetration rates are increasing year over year across our nation and according to Julie Evans' of Project Tomorrow,  this is the only technology statistic that is consistent across socio-economic boundaries.  In other words, Americans with less money have shown that mobile access to the internet is just as much as a priority as more affluent Americans.  We can't say this for any other technological statistic (internet access through a computer at home, for example).  When you have a free hours, watch the archive of Julie's recent @One desktop seminar in which she discusses this topic.

The lesson here is that mobile devices are really providing some amazingly simple ways to create content, share and learn.  Instructors creating content in this way will benefit through the simplicity of the tools.  Engaging students in these activities promotes active learning and also connects curriculum to the real world.

When I teach "Prehistoric to Gothic Art History" surveys, I require my students to identify specific examples of architecture in their local area that reflect influence from ancient architecture (they're given a specific list of architectural elements to find).  This "scavenger hunt" is always a favorite of students and it gets them out of their textbooks and the classroom to look at their surroundings in a new way and make connections between life thousands of years ago and our contemporary context.  Now, with this app, I can see a way for students to snap pictures of these architectural elements and then record a slideshow of their findings and share it with the class and the world.


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