Right, I’m back! Sorry if you have been bored with the Minecraft posts recently, I had a sort of break for Easter but I am back now with some usual teaching, techie or just twaddle! I feel that I have neglected my site for a while and if you are a bit disappointed with my recent waffles then I assure you that I am going to try and improve in the next couple of months. In order to get things underway, I thought I would waffle about what I look for and how I continue to create what I consider a mobile technology life…
I was checking through my many messages (one) from Facebook yesterday and I came across a really good question relating to the use of iPads. The person wanted to know whether, despite the numerous posts/articles about the positives of using iPads for education, was there any research that pointed out the benefits of teachers having iPads. When I started to consider this I realised that it wasn’t the iPad or device that was important to me as a teacher/tutor, but more the fact that it was one device that made my technology more mobile. So what do I look for and how do I try and get my technology to fit into me mobile life style.
WiFi – Many people ask me, should I get my iPad with 3G. I must admit, I have never taken this option, even when I bought my new iPad Air 2. There was a time when free wifi hotspots were few and far between, but now they tend to be all over the place. One of the things I look for when visiting places is whether there is wifi available and how to access it. Luckily with my mobile provider, there are numerous locations for this. Even when there is no wifi, I always have the option to tether my iPad to my iPhone and utilise the 3G connection (no 4G for me yet). Ensuring that your devices have all the wifi connections setup is really important so that when you arrive in the new location your devices automatically recognise and connect. This is also important for the location feature since some of the applications I use will actually register where I am and then let me know if I need to do anything in that place.
When I am looking for new applications to support my workflow it is important that the starting point is actually what I need it to do. This is often a long drawn out process since it is usually only when I am actually using the software that I can find out its limitations. There is also a very personal factor in my choice. If I don’t like the layout or flow of the process then I can easily dismiss the application. Once it has got pass the stage of my personal preferences there are some elements of it that has to be present in order for it to be integrated into my workflow.
Omnipresent– When I am on the go, I want to be able to access all my information on a range of devices. This means that the software needs to have a presence on all my devices and the web. The latter is very important for me since sometimes I need to actually use the software when I am actually sat at my desk on a ‘big’ machine. I used to look for a cross platform applications as well but now, although this is still important in my teaching, I am mainly using Apple devices so this is becoming less of a problem. My ‘to do list’ application of choice is Omnifocus. I really like this application/software although the only downside is that there is no PC version of the software. At the moment, I cope with this by just having my iPad open at work while working on the PC. Of course I have asked for an iMac in my office 🙂
Synchronising – As well as having the application on all my devices, the next most important thing is the ability to synchronise across those devices. Being able to access up to date information is very important and anything I have added on one device in one location needs to be available elsewhere. Because of this I always ensure that the software has this. Over the years, this option has become more and more the norm and now I think it is almost taken as an essential requirement. However it is always worth ensuring that it is part of the software – there is nothing worse then curating or adding something on your phone/tablet and then suddenly finding out that the only place to access this information is on the original device. The ability to synchronise also means you have a certain ‘back up’ option on your information. I sometimes see people taking notes on their iPads and hoping that they have thought or implemented a back up option, otherwise, and I hope it never does, those notes might be gone forever!
Entering Information -The final element of the application/software that I look for is the ability to enter information quickly and without any hassle. If I get an idea for a blog post, I need to get it recorded as quickly as possible. Too often I have thought I will remember the idea to wake up the next day not having a single clue about the apparent ‘great idea’. Recording or inputting this information needs to be quick and effortless and then be accessible anywhere. My favourite example of this is using Siri to great reminders on my phone. The way this then creates a to do task in Omnifocus is perfect! I now never forget anything when I go to the shops…unless I forget to add it to the list to start of with!
As I have already mentioned, finding an application/piece of software to fill a need often takes me a long time and these choices are probably very personally to me. However, hopefully the points I look for are more generic and could be applied to anyone who is trying to develop a more mobile approach to the use of technology. In the next waffle to do with this topic, I’ll let you into the choices I have made and the applications which make my life so easy on the move!
I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.
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Have fun and I’ll catch you later