Simpler is Better

Some 130,000 users have made some level of effort to examine a “language learning” approach to recognizing words (originially developed at Teachers College while looking at ways to introduce Indo-European language speakers to Sino-Tibetan and other non-alphabetic languages), and over the last five years, I have come to realize that the original implementation of this idea added an unnecessary layer of complexity and probably, for most people, severely limited the appeal (or even entirely hid) the appeal of this notion.  Learning languages is sufficient challenging to most beginners — there was no need to add more complexity to the basic approach, at least at the outset. No need to create puzzles to make it more interesting (or just harder) to click on words, hear them pronounced, see the characters — and let them click as often as they like.

With new Touch mode, and native standard pronunciation.

So with version 5.x, this new language learning tool is much more useful to my own study of basic “Hanzi” (Chinese characters), as it starts in a simple “point-click-hear-see” mode that lets me randomly click any word and hear it in Chinese (or German, or French, etc) as often and as many times as I like.  I bet most people that try this will find it useful — and probably too useful to even wonder how to use the “review” or “play” modes (still available in the app) to begin testing their own retention.  Ah well, five years on, better late than never.  See

iPads for Assessment – update

Mobile software, EdTech and the world of assessment are all fairly dynamic, 150301-Apple_Asseesment_with_iPad_coverand two years is almost two generations of change in some of these realms.

Smarter Balanced / SmarterApp just released an update on their technology considerations for iPad based testing, and it includes some good information as well as links to Apple resources that are helpful too.

For high-stakes testing, using iPads in “single app mode” has many obvious advantages, and tools are available to make using the devices in this mode relatively simple and easy.  Deployment tools for getting the devices into, and out of, single app mode, including by allowing programs to enter / exit SAM directly, have been implemented (as of iOS 8.1.3?) in a way that requires minimal overhead and administrative burden.

SmarterApp’s post, entitled Guidelines for the Configuration of iPads During Smarter Balanced Testing, is available here.  In particular, having test devices managed under “supervision” by Apple’s own “Apple Configurator”, or third party “MDM” (mobile device management) software, enable flexible control over access to features like the spell-check, dictionary and auto-correction that can be granular based on the specific section of an assessment. As of iOS 8.1.3, control of these features can be managed on managed iPad devices via customizable profiles — see more about that here.

SmarterApp also included a link to more detailed information on creating “custom profiles” to control specific features (please note: in “Single App Mode” features like the home button and task switching are already locked out from the user experience) for those already familiar with MDM, and a link to this Apple document entitled “Assessment with iPad”  that provides up-to-the-minute (March 2015) information that probably provides a better starting point that past information on this blog that has long since been overtaken by events.



iTunes store retro-actively disapproves of my pretty demo movie

I was so happy with how easy it was to create my “app Demo movie” for the app store I wrote a post.  Then, i found a bug and posted an update to the app — which they reject because they no longer approve of my “movie”…

Sadly, the visible “IOS Simulator… ” text in the status bar is a “meta data content violation”, so the fix to my two improperly named (and so unvoiced) sound files, was rejected. Arg.  I will I guess have to make a plane jane demo movie — one where you can’t see a finger-press (at least with the tools I bought and learned so far) for the app store and maybe change the support page for the apps to feature a YouTube video. No big deal, but more work…

Suggestions for the best way to “easily” make a quality iPad or iPhone demo movie that can be posted on the store will be appreciated…