I’m always a little envious of those kids with piles of flip cards. Bundled up in big wads, encircled with rubber bands. ‘This is what I need to know’, they seem to say. Here is the contained knowledge. They sit at their desks and spread them before them, almost smugly.

So, I wanted to have some for my students … Just like they had in Psych. And, who knows, maybe some students actually learn like that? Like the question and answer, the certainty, the ability to review and revise.

Doing *some* research for flash card apps (of course I wasn’t going to go down the ‘paper’ pathway, I found Flashcards+ which works quite well (actually it took me quite a while to work out how the cards could be viewed) and works well with Quizlet, a kind of online community of Flashcard makers. I was very surprised to find several sets already made for Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, which isn’t’ that widely taught.

Still, I made a set of cards for our literature study of *Wide Sargasso Sea*, mainly terms, concepts, characters, factual stuff, which connected more to the things I wanted the students to know and work on, rather than the standard vocab. style ones already there. You can look it up on Quizlet.


Then I told the students about it in class and via the class blog where I could EMBED the cards so you could actually play them from the web site.

And, a couple of the students really liked it. Said it was useful. Said I should do it again.

Rupert Murdoch vs my Iphone App

I’ve been following the recent bluff and bluster from Rupert Murdoch with interest: ‘Google are ripping off my content’, ‘You can’t do this to me!’, ‘I’m taking my newspaper off the internet’, ‘Pay for view for news is the future’, stuff like that (I’m paraphrasing but you can do a Google News Search and get the exact quotes yourself; what am I, a journalist?) Here’s a snapshot:

Some see it as a bluff, or an attempt to cut a deal with Bing or some other search engine, others see it as the last gasps of a media mogul who just doesn’t get it and/or the desperate last throes of old media.  I heard that a year ago Rupert Murdoch had never done a Google search himself. That figures.

I love newspapers but some of them aren’t doing a great job of convincing me that I care. I loved reading the NY Times when I was there recently and bought it every morning and I’ve got a lot of time for the AGE but then I go there this week and find vitriolic opinion columns from sensationalists like Catherine Deveny or across town the same stuff from Andrew Bolt in the Herald-Sun.  It’s fun for language analysis practice for Year 12s, but you dont’ go there for insight, or even particularly good writing. Can a newspaper that has to be one thing to all people really work any more?

Truth is, when I wake up each morning I check my email and my Google Reader feeds before I check the newspaper online.  I follow 101 blog feeds daily, from people who are expert in their fields, who I respect, many of whom also write better than Bolt, Deveny and the rest. Try Scott McLeod, Derek Wenmoth, Don Tapscott or David Warlick on education, for a start. I could go on!

And I’m hopeful that a new era of open-ness has begun and that the genie is already out of the bottle in a democratisation of the media. We want access to the information that matters to us in exactly the format that works for us and I hope that Murdoch’s view of the world is fading.

I’m teaching the classic text Frankenstein to my literature class next year and have been trawling around for resources. One that struck me was a study guide on the text available as a web site you could visit, a PDF you could download or an Iphone App you could buy for $1.19. You can find it on Itunes.  It’s not anything particularly intuitive except that it understands the ubiquity around content now, and that we want choice in how we receive it.  The ABC seems to understand, they’ve been working hard at delivering their content in increasingly diverse ways, including on hand held devices.

I met with my publisher recently in planning a new text book for next year, maybe. We were talking about models of publishing and they’ve begun to move (slowly) toward a sort of print on demand model where you order a customised version of the book depending on the texts and contexts you’ve chosen to study. But what about making that same content available online? We’ve had a web site resource add-on for a while now, but I’m arguing for the book to be available in other ways too: to be read on the Kindle, downloaded and purchased in bits, even as an iphone app. It’s going to be interesting to see who catches us on quickest in all this; the slow ones aren’t likely to last.

I’ve been following the recent bluff and bluster from Rupert Murdoch with interest: ‘Google are ripping off my content’, ‘You can’t do this to me!’, ‘I’m taking my newspaper off the internet’, ‘Pay for view for news is the future’, stuff like that (I’m paraphrasing but you can do a Google News Search and get the exact quotes yourself; what am I, a journalist?)

Palm sized computing

I must admit I’ve always been a fan of the full sized (notebook) computer.  Forget weight issues (I’m a strong lad)  the bigger and more powerful the computer the better: a decent hard drive, widescreen and especially a full-sized keyboard for those of us who learned to touch-type in the heady days when the Public Service typing pool seemed a job for life.

So, I’ve generally argued against netbooks, PDAs and mobile phones as replacements for ‘real’ 1-1 computing solutions except in cases when the $200-$300 price difference makes a critical difference in getting the program going.  And, while I stick to those guns, I must admit being pretty impressed so far with my new 64GB Ipod Touch with full wireless capacity and the ability to work with all the downloadable Iphone applications.

It’s not going to replace my computer, and I’m not going to write my thesis on it, but I can quite happily read emails, check my calendar,  work with Twitter and quickly move through my rss feeds via Google Reader. I can make Skype calls with the headphone microphone plugged in, read from my EverNote account and read the Age or the NY Times. I can record voice memos, or my cycling training and probably play a bizillion games I’m too nervous to download in case I get addicted.  When I was walking around lost in Salem recently I could stop for coffee at a wireless cafe and fire up the Google Map and figure out how to get back to the ferry.  And did I mention it’s got ALL my music on it?  With voice control so if I say ‘Play artist Neil Young’ it does! And I say that a lot!

It’s a powerful little hand-held computer and it’s got potential which I’ve been busily exploring as I download lots of little applications for it.   The big drawback remains that it’s hard to create on it; to write much, to draw, to brainstorm, to produce. But you can access information with ease and I can see, with this user interface, how hand-held mobile devices might have a bigger part to play than I thought.

Here’s how I’ve organised my Ipod so far; three screens. I’d love to hear how you’ve set yours up and whether you’ve found the perfect application to go with it.


The GMAIL App works seamlessly with Gmail accounts as does Evernote, Tweetdeck and Skype. Everyone needs a shopping list and To Do list right? The cycling log is a bit specialised but does the job nicely.


Screen 2 is less commonly used apps; a couple of Melbourne public transport specific apps and the ubiquitous ‘AppBox Pro’ and it’s bag of tricks (I would have loved to have had the ‘Tip Calculator’ when I was in NY recently) Urbanspoon is a restaurant finder and very cool. iTwitterPro I bought, but it isn’t as good as Tweetdeck.


Screen 3 are web slices; direct links to web pages I read a lot. Sort of visible bookmarks. The Google Reader is an application that makes reading your RSS feeds a breeze.


Screen 4 is apps I don’t use, but can’t delete. I haven’t got any stocks and the ‘Music’ button is much better than the iTunes one.