The Flow Creators in a Sea of Apps

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So when I started this assignment, I had a hard time finding an app that interested me and sparked my creativity. I like an app that works smoothly, without bumps along the way. The flow and function of an app should be simple to understand, without any prior training or understanding. Creativity thrives in an environment free from distractions and hurdles, for this very. The reason I picked Seedling Comic Studio app to spread my wings of creativity.

I immediately fell in love with the app Seedling had designed, it was straightforward and simple to use. Specifically with areas labeled add and edit. Your creative tools were at your fingertips, metaphorically and literally. There was absolutely no lag in the app performance, and as each page changed with it numerous editing features, the buttons stayed either at the bottom or top bars, with an occasional call to action pop up. Such simplistic design made for an easy learning curve, instead of running up a hill to take off, Seedling made it feel like I already had the momentum, with an easy downhill traverse.

The ability to shift and lengthen your story line by quickly changing the layout opens up the doors of possibility, whether it be a single page comic for a billboard, or a several page comic book masterpiece. If we look specifically at the later, it is easy to see how a simple classroom journaling assignment can get a twist of pizzaz. Or you could do a graphic novel study and then ask your students to create their individual or even in groups.

Where this app takes off is in its ability to import classic comic book style with modern image importation. Here I was able to take pictures of myself against a blank backdrop and seamlessly import myself into the comic using the handy cutout tool. I even went beyond its said capabilities and imported a picture of a keychain, by using the cutout tool to manually import the image that I wanted, using the touch screen selection tool within. This is where the program loses a bit of its flow and simplicity, instead of just incorporating a quick cut out tool for humans and faces, it should have the same simplicity for items that have been taken with a neutral background.

Depending on your student level of creativity, this app poses even deeper layers. Such as the ability to chance the filters on backgrounds and cutouts. By using locations around your school or classroom and then adding a filter to give it a comic book vibe, the students would be able to merge reality with imagination, it an entirely new way.

Apps like, Seedling Comic Studio have an essential place in the classroom; something that would take hours for a teacher to create can now be implemented in minutes. The visual outcome alone produces a finished product that many students would love to display and share with others. The group learning potential is fabulous. Seedling defiantly hit a home run here; education is no longer simply about the teaching providing capsules of information for students consumption. In the day and age where coding and apps rule the world, educators such as myself have to provide systems and devices that work smoothly together driving our students beyond the box into the unknown.

Just as a financial portfolio manager will tell you how important a diversified portfolio is to maximize your interest earning potential; a diversified education resource and tool system is fundamental every student’s growth. With that in mind, I hope you don’t take a second look and add Seedling Comic Studio to your educational resource toolbox. Just as I had to push myself to find my creative framework, I urge each and ever educator that is reading my blog to reach for these gems lost in a sea of apps.IMG_0153.JPGIMG_0154.JPG

The Tech MindShift

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Technology has always been an extension of myself; Therefore, it at times becomes just something that I must do. Because of this, I have struggled with thinking of interesting ways to apply it in my class or even make it fun again. This week I was able to experience it in a whole new light, one that gave me an aha moment. Our instructor gave us the task of going on a QR Code Scavenger Hunt using the app Goosechase; the work was engaging so much so that I could understand first-hand the importance of QR Codes. I realize how the college could simplify our interaction with the services offered, and expand student participation. Who wants to spend the time typing out a long URL or writing down all the information on an upcoming event? Since I claim to be a minimalist, what could be better than using a QR code to quickly implement Bring Your Own Device in my class, or even doing an interactive scavenger hunt to introduce a new unit? I could even go as far as getting the students to create their QR scavenger hunt, as a check for understanding, the uses are endless.

Live Tech Showdown

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So many times we talk about technology in the classroom, but an interactive classroom goes beyond just implementing great tech. Interactive tech has to be applied in a practical manner with a clean, simple implementation. In the past two weeks, I had the great opportunity to be able to test out multiple applications of interactive tech both from a student’s point of view and from a teacher’s perspective. To do this properly, I have to break them down to the basics. At the root of every category, I will seek to find the simplicity and minimalist structure forming each interactive system.

Teacher Usage
As I assessed my three main interactive websites from a teachers point of view, I found myself focusing once again on flow. For a site to be able to function intuitively in a classroom, it has to have an unobstructed flow to mace its implementation smooth and straight forward. With this in mind, Socrative stood out as a clear leader when it came to teacher implementation. Right from the login screen which had quick Google sign on and clean home screen perfect for smart board or Epson integration.

Now let me direct you to polleverywhere.com. This website holds so much potential, everything from taking a pole on a character in a novel, to hypothesizing on a science experiment, the possibilities in any class are so vast.. But its login window does not have a simple one Botton login like some of the others, and this could easily take away from your classroom flow if, you are logged out by accident. On the other hand, once you are on the page you can easily access everything from a clean and straightforward layout. You can tell right away that this system was designed for an interactive screen and a live presentation system. The booths on the side make it simple for a teacher to live to customize virtually every aspect.

Moving on to Padlet, I have mixed feelings about this site. First, it was ver easy and simple to sign on, because of the straightforward Google implementation. But here is where the flow seemed to begin to be disrupted, first it had an excellent organization, and design window on the left for each Padlet created. Since you had to scroll down and menus were hidden within menus, there was a disconnection when it came to pure creation. Then it completely lost significance in my teacher vision, when it would not save, even when switching programs and computers. This sent up red flags for its live implementation in the classroom.

Student Usage
Socrative once again does a fantastic job when it comes to implementation, from the separate login screen with simple code sign into clean integration with multiple devices. This can be made even easier if the teacher pays for a subscription plan, but even without it, the site shines as a clear leader from simplicity and flow standpoint. Being a student with multiple learning disabilities, I love how clean and organized it is, this create a distraction free implementation. Socrative speaks minimalist power from start to finish.

With cell phone classroom integration becoming an everyday occurrence, being able to engage your students in a positive way is key. Polleverywhere.com seems to have found a gold mine here with there text-based live interaction system. Though the flow at times might be hampered from infrastructure hitches, I believe the positive side outweighs this. Also, the ability for a student to be anonymous is impressive, especially if you have some student that are shy. They are now able to interact with the class as a whole, where else wise they might not.

Since I gave a bit of a scathing review of Padlet from the teacher perspective, they have a bit of a come back in the student integration arena. The ability to link pictures and ties in an interactive screen system that can be viewed live and commented on is amazing for multiple classroom implementations, On the student side, flow and simplicity shine brightly with minimal hiccups.

Flexibility, and Variety of Questions
If you haven’t already been able to envision my front runner now will defiantly make it clear. Socrative is a powerhouse of possibility. From quizzes, games and an exit ticket format, the options seem almost too much to handle. Not that there couldn’t be more but what they have already mage this site just phenomenal in any lesson. Now add the ability to have three question formats: Multiple Choice, True/false and Short Answer, and I say if you aren’t using this in your classroom now is the time to start.

Polleverywhere.com, on the other hand, is a little bit limited, in that it only takes a question and survey format. But then again what do you expect from a live polling app. The ability to ask questions and get an extended written response live is amazing in itself. Since it has designated itself to this realm of implementation, it has limited itself in a way, but in no way does this take away from its flow and relevance in any classroom.

On the other hand, Padlet has clearly set itself out as an instant classroom live blogging interface. By doing so it has limited its implementation to a write-up and a picture format, But I ask you is there any simpler way of getting your class into blogging than such a format? I know I haven’t fount one, and since its singular simplicity stands out from its counterparts, it holds its own in a field of giants.

Diagnostic Feedback
Here is where Socrative once again seals its place at the top, with only a free plan, a teacher has tremendous resources on hand. First, you have the ability to turn names on and off when you want to show the live class results. Then capacity to keep the data and return to it later is awesome, take that with the ability to print off reports in multiple formats and this site I would pay off any day to be able to use it to its full potential.

As we come to poll everywhere, well I can’t speak mush to this since I have not paid to be able to view reports and diagnostics. I found this to be a hindrance; mainly they are pushing you into a structured payment system to make it pay off in the classroom. The least they could have done is given a small print of a system with simple stats.

Once again we compare a system that seems not to be designed to fit the same box like the others. There is no real feedback section in Padlet since the posts themselves are comments in their right. You can print the page off if you need a hard copy and you can share it with your other resources and sites if needed. Ultimately just a great live feedback system that sticks around as long as you keep them.
Finally, after looking at all three in depth, I can say that they all play their parts ver well. The key is to know their positives and negatives well before implementation in the classroom. But in the end my number one pick is Socrative, second place is Padlet, even though it has shortcomings, and in third place is Polleverywhere.com, mainly because of the lack of results and reporting in the free version.