Monday, 3 June 2013



Friends of The Web, LLC


Available on iOS

This tool shows the web link connections between Wikipedia articles.  Enables the user to gain an understanding of information is interconnected.  The user can see visual array of how pages and how each subject are interconnected to the original search, as well as the original Wikipedia page for the original searched topic.  Users can click on connections to reveal next layer of interconnections to sub-topics, see figure 1.

Figure 1: Example Wikiweb search results on iPad

Wikiweb is very similar to another concept mapping tool C-links developed by University of Braford, [1-2].  C-links is another concept linkage search tool of Wikipedia accessible from a web browser.   This is tool similar to Wikiweb in that shows interconnections in Wikipedia, but user specifies two subjects to be searched for the interconnections, but output only Wikipedia definitions not the original wiki page.   Therefore the user has to have some initial peripheral knowledge to be aware that two subjects could be interconnected.

The benefits of Wikiweb for students it provides wider picture of a subject area, concept mapping; an insight to what, where and which subtopics they need to read around to build up a broad and deeper understanding of a subject access to original Wiki page and references.  As academics per say Wikipedia is not something we tend to recommend as a primary secondary research source to be cited, however it is practical starting point.   I tend to recommend to students that they should read the original references cited in the wiki pages to layer and deepen their knowledge and understandings; these are the sources they should be citing as knowledge evidence to support to their communications.


[1] Cowling, P., Remde, S., Hartley, P., Stewart, W., Stock-Brooks, J., & Woolley, T. (2010). C-Link: Concept Linkage in Knowledge Repositories, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Spring symposium, Stanford University, Stanford, California, March 22-24, 2010, last accessed 3rd June 2013 at

[2] Hartley, P. (2013) Effective Learning Resources, in Producing engaging and effective and effective learning materials, Webinar 5 OcTEL, ALT, 6th May 2013

Wednesday, 1 May 2013



CloudOn Inc


Available on iOS and Android

Another Office tool however it fills the gap of providing MSOffice like functionality (particularly the toolbar which very similar to MS Office applications) onto your mobile device in the absence of MS Office app.   Plus you can sync the device with Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box and DropBox, open, edit and save to the drives documents. 

The MS Office like functionality is much welcomed;
  1. it reduces the learning curve for users
  2. increases the user  ability to produces documents with polish on mobile devices
  3. increase the user ability to polish Google docs stored on Google Drive

In addition the app opens Open Office documents, a preferred application for word processing by tech' students, but consequently cannot be opened and read by their tutor when digitally submitted on the Institutional desktop or typically on their mobile devices.   Resulting in a delay in providing feedback as; the tutor bounces the document back; askes the student to export the document to a more accessible format; the tutor requires a format that can be opened in applications available to the tutor.   For a change I can open the document in CloudOn, subsequently read, edit, feedback, store and share the document on Google Drive (as at my employer's institution we provide every student with a Google account).  
CloudOn provides the opportunity for academics to increase our efficiency in feeding back to students, but also increases the ease of access of providing feedback.   The CloudOn technology is enhancing the learning process rather than hindering as making it;
  • easier
  • more accessible
  • more intuitive
  • more efficient

However again you are signing up to a Cloud service, which is not designed for under 18 year old and currently free.   Like all Cloud services their conditions subject to change, for example privacy policy.

Monday, 29 April 2013



Summly (but just been bought by Yahoo, [1])


Available on iPhone

An app I have used for quite some time, the look and feel is beautiful, one can understand Yahoo buying this app out for several thousand, [1].   However it has meant the android app has been shelved.  

The app deliveries summaries of the news from leading on-line official news sources, for example The Guardian,etc.  The news articles are summarised down to typically to 140 words, so the news is easier to digest on your iPhone.   The app enables you to scan the news and gain an appreciation of the key world news. This is a useful app if you are an academic that uses news articles in your lecture to assist in making your subject area more current.

However unlike Flipboard and twitter news stream with an embedded web link, when you click on the summarised article in Summly it will not take you to the full article.  Just occasionally users may wish to read more and in more depth.. 

It is quick and easy resource to give oneself a quick overview of the news, but does not provide functionality to collate all the relevant news articles together in your own personal news summary, as you can in Flipboard.  However, it is Summly’s simplicity that attracted this student to the app, to support their learning of the mainstream news oppose to Flipboard;

“[Flipboard] at the moment it can sometimes feel like too much, it can feel like there are too many features compared to apps like Summly”

The app provides functionality that enables you to share individual news articles via Facebook, Twitter, and email.   The functionality is rather neat in design and practical, but you still can’t share collation of articles together like in Flipboard.


[1] Saner, E. (2013) " Summly creator Nick D'Aloisio: 'I try to maintain a level of humbleness'”The Guardian Friday 29th March 2013, last accessed 2nd ay 2013 at

Sunday, 28 April 2013





Available on iPhone

The popular email management system for Gmail launched this year , ideal for students at out institution as the student email account is Gmail.   The app enables the user to quickly swipe through your emails to

·         bin junk mail,

·         file as done into archive (i.e. when read and acted upon)

·         reset to be read or act upon from later evening, tomorrow, next week, month, someday

·         set to buy, read and watch

·         see whole email conversation

Suddenly you can easily manage your inbox efficiently never lose the important emails in the sea of emails in the inbox, enabling you to organise them to be acted upon later when one has time to address appropriately and correctly.   Feedback from one student:

“Before downloading this app all my emails would permanently stay in my inbox and made the task managing and responding to emails misery.   Mailbox helps me to keep my inbox at zero, it makes my email work around me and the other way round”

Just need it to support Microsoft exchange mail please, to help my life easier and Android to support the majority students as they own Android phones, [1]


[1] Woodcock, B.  Armstrong, M. Nortcliffe, A. and Middleton, A. (2012) Smart-device potential for student learning, Mobile Monday Manchester: Mobile Education Event, Manachester, UK, 12th November 2012, last accessed 23rd April 2013 at

Friday, 26 April 2013



By MacPhun LLC


Available iPhone and iPad

One the assessment tasks I like to set my students at second year, rather than presentation or pitch, is a standalone presentation.  This can use standalone functionality in Prezi or Powerpoint.   However I like to encourage my students to actually make a video, challenge themselves technically to communicate effectively to the audience.   My assessment brief state the presentation can be any genre.

Vintagio enables students to easily make a silent video, provides the functionality to record, edit and publish the films in formats from 20’s, sepia to 70’s yellow tinged footage.   The app equally supplies appropriate and a choice of period soundtracks for each film effect.   The pro editing facility is excellent you can:

·       add footage film, photos, to the timeline

·       add text cards (however you cannot change size of text, little annoying,  despite change font)

·       add transition of fade in or out at varying speeds

·       move footage along the timeline using drag drop

·       trim and split footage

·       duplicate, reverse, flip, and change the speed of footage

Finally you can share the video to array of social media You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, Cinemagram and mobile device camera roll.  It is a just a simple app to use and quite effective.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013



By MobileTag


Available for Blackberry, Android, Kindle Fire HD, Windows 8 mobile OS and iOS mobile platforms

Reported to be the first mobile QRCode reader, admittedly I have had this app on my iPhone since 2009, when there was choice of two QRCode reading apps.   The advantage of this Mobile code reader is that it can scan QRCodes, Barcodes and Matrix codes, 3 in 1 app.

For learning purposes why would I recommend anyone ensuring they have QRCode app on their mobile device.   In reality it is now common place for magazines, newspaper, books and posters to have QRcodes.   QRCodes present publishers with the opportunity to provide additional copy on the web without the print and ddistribution cost or dynamic web based information for example a video, podcast, animation, live data stream or changing data resource.   Practical learning examples;

·      QRCodes could be used in a Maths text book to enable the reader to access video of showing a mathematical theory being applied, and assisting the learner to progress through Kolb’s learning cycle, [1].  

·      Equally modern History text book could use QRCodes to take the reader to a video recording of the historical event.

·      Universität Trier in Germany has been experimenting using QRCodes in text books to encourage and to take students to electronic display of tutorial exercises, the student completes the exercises on the mobile device, [2]. 

However, one has to question whether it is appropriate to use of QRCodes in printed text books when printed media is on the demise and digital books on the rise, and hyperlinks in digital books can be applied. 

QRCodes on posters and projected on the classroom screen would be a practical learning method.   The method would enable academics to take their students to learning activities with ease in class, without the error of typing in a URL address.   QRCodes are certainly practical and interactive method of taking students to an on-line exercise to complete and submit in a class.   I have used them on posters to take students to a dynamic website designed and developed by students on my behalf to show a different App each day for learning.

Mobiletag app is easy to operate, the opened app is ready to scan, once the app has been shown a code (good lightening conditions are required) it quickly scans the code, decodes and opens the URL coded in the code on the mobile device’s web browser. This is a simple and effective app, certainly must app for academics and students.


[1] Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

[2] Röpke, J. and Schneider, G. (2012) More: Mobile Referencing System for Printed Media, CSEDU 2012, Porto, Portugal, 387-394, last accessed on 24th April 2013 at

Tuesday, 23 April 2013



By Diigo


Available on android and iOS platform

Diigo is another app connecting to Diigo on-line service that offers another type of app to manage your website bookmarking, network of connections, working groups and wider community.   One could describe it as Mendeley meets LinkedIn, a library social bookmarking tool.   Like any social media service, you need to register with the service.   There are different membership levels from free to paid.

The mobile apps enable the user to view, edit and share social bookmarking in Diigo library.   However the iOS versions offer a functionality that Mendeley the ability for the user to install additional bookmarking features in the Safri, enabling one touch solution to bookmarking website to your Diigo library, which fulfills are students requirements of a simple ubiquitous learning solution.   The iOS bookmarking features:

·       On the iPhone you can install bookmarklet that enables when you bookmark to save a web page to your library on Diigo. 

·      On the iPad version you can install a web highlighter tool in the bookmark bar, this tool has additional functionality to just bookmarking to Diigo, the user can add sticky notes (Post-its), apply highlighter to sections of the web page, all will be stored as image overlays when you view page again through your Diigo app or Diigo on-line in my Library.

Diigo essentially enables users to build library of websites with annotations attached to the websites, useful app for any learner to manage their on-line learning resources.  However, it should be noted that the library stores the web address details only not the full citation reference details as in Mendeley.   However, the Safari bookmarking and social networking facility of Diigo makes the app more simple digitally, [1] and fits with our student ubiquitous learning lifestyle particularly when sharing resources in group work assignments, [2].


[1] Woodcock, B.  Armstrong, M. Nortcliffe, A. and Middleton, A. (2012) Smart-device potential for student learning, Mobile Monday Manchester: Mobile Education Event, Manachester, UK, 12th November 2012, last accessed 23rd April 2013 at
[2] Nortcliffe, A.  and Middlleton, A. (2013) The innovative use of personal smart devices by students to support their learning, In Increasing Student Engagement and Retention using Mobile Applications: Smartphones, Skype and Texting Technologies, (Eds) Wankel, L. and Blessinger, P. (eds), (Cutting Edge Technologies in Higher Education). 175-210, 2013, Emerald, Bingley, UK

Monday, 22 April 2013



by Big Nerd Ranch

eclicker Presenter (tutor version of app) £10.49, eclicker audience (student version of app) free

available on iOS

eClicker is another audience clicker response app for tutors and students.   However there are number of issues that would inhibit the app adoption:

·       only operates only on apple proprietary systems, Mac/iPad/iPhone, therefore ideal for schools who have introduced app TV, iPads for every member of staff and student

·       staff and students in HE are tending to use their own smart devices, not necessarily on the iOS

·       price of the teacher’s app, though the learners app is free , as most staff use their own devices, more unlikely to invest in such an app for work

·       Socrative’s teacher and student apps are free. 

However the eClicker has additional functionality to that of Socrative:

·       The tutor can upload or draw multiply images for each answer of a multiple choice question (MCQ). 

·       The tutor can host securely on their Mac/iPad/iPhone a private eClicker WiFi network and over which students will be required to respond to questions using their iOS mobile device.  Advantageous as only the students in the room can respond to the questions, therefore you can gauge student in class engagement and attendance.

·       The tutor can host the quiz on a Mac/iPad/iPhone, but type of device limit size of class room 128/64/332 respectively for Mac/iPad/iPhone.

·       The tutor can share the quiz over the web by sharing the quiz numbered URL, but if need to enter by hand it is not easy to enter correctly; sharing a URL electronically QRCode on board would be easier.   URL quiz opens the opportunity for distance learners’ engagement.

For myself and the institution I work within, eClickers practicalities would prevent its adoption, as the majority of my students have mobiles devices on the android OS [1], however a friend who is a Head Teacher of an 11-18 education academy, has just introduced;

·         app TV into each classroom

·         iPads to every staff member

·         iPad mini to each student

Here the eClicker has potential as operating in solely iOS environment, maximum class size of 30 using and lends itself to creating eClick private networks for class interactive quizzes.


[1] Woodcock, B.  Armstrong, M., Nortcliffe, A. and Middleton, A. (2012) Smart-device potential for student learning”, Mobile Monday Manchester: Mobile Education Event, Manchester, UK, 12th November 2012, last accessed 22nd April 2013 at

Sunday, 21 April 2013



By Colwiz


iOS and Anroid OS.

Colwiz (Video), shows that Colwiz is a desktop and mobile application designed and developed by Oxford academics to enable academics and students completing research projects to manage, organise and control information and work flow.   The desktop app provides the functionality to:

·       Free 2Gbytes cloud space

·       Invite the research team (local and international) to join colwiz;

·       Private cloud communication space for the research team; enabling team to chat, share data, equations publications, documents, and survey results on-line chat communication;

·       Private organisation space to define task lists, and calendar events that can be shared with the team;

·       Import, add and manage your research project reference sources, and share with the research team;

·       Highlight and annotate reference sources, share your thoughts with the team;

·        Import research data for team to visualize and analysis the results;

The on-line and desktop enables you organise and manage your research project, enable you to share and store securely (backed-up) your research data, reference, communications, and connections in one location.  The mobile app provides you read access to all the files uploaded and stored on colwiz, that is  your publications, reference sources, research data, survey results, etc.

Personally an app both on-line, desktop and mobile app that has potential for student group research projects for example MEng, MComp original research projects, Phd projects and Final year projects.   However it would require asking corporate IT services to install on desktops.

Like Diigo, Colwiz has a bookmark tool functionality, however unlike Diigo does not appear you can install this functionality on the iPad Safari browser.   This limits the user to importing references to Colwiz from a Desktop, not practical when tablets now out strip desktop sales [1].    In addition the mobile app only provides read only functionality of your upload publications, and does not appear to access documents in the Colwiz drive.

In practical terms mobile app the Mendeley app offers more as you can add references and upload to Mendeley cloud.   Combine Mendeley with using Google Drive a project team would have all the functionality of Colwiz and more operating over desktop, online and mobile applications.  With a coporate license agreement with Google, resolves the copyright ownership personal Google [2].


[1] Ahmed, M. (2013) Tablet computers swallow desktop, The Times, 28th March 2013, last accessed 2nd April 2013 at

[2] Whittaker, Z. (2012) How far do Google Drive’s terms go in ‘owning’ your files?”, ZDNet, last accessed 22nd April 2013 at

Friday, 19 April 2013

Explain a Website


By Morriscooke and Constructivist Toolkit LLC


Available on iPad

Explain a Website (EAW) enables you to browse in the app a website, and to write and/or draw annotations on a website; the website dynamics are still operational so you can browse through the site making annotations on the each page.  The app provides recording facility so you can create a screencast recording of your annotations, verbal comments and navigation around the site.   This subsequent file can be exported as PDF (series of stills images without the audio is supposedly exported, however when I exported the file no program on the desktop or iPad could open the resultant file) or as a video to email,  DropBox or Evernote.  The video format is compressed MP4 codec.

In terms of education the app has potential to enable academics/teachers to feedback on student website assessments submissions, but also assessment submitted electronically to the VLE, as can browse the VLE in the app.   I personally have used the latter example to provide timely and constructive feedback on a e-submitted (submitted to VLE) draft student dissertation, the app enabled me to recording my musing and written comments as I scrolled down the web-based document.

A 2 minutes video of audio, annotations, screen movements, medium quality, and 640x450 resolution takes a couple of minute or less to be compressed into a MP4 codec format, and the resultant file can be as much as 7.1Mb (just small enough to be emailed), size dependent upon volume annotations, screen movement and audio, less activity recorded over 2 minutes results in a smaller file.  

However with respect to screencasting feedback of a large web based document, where it is possible to scroll down the large document recording you annotations and verbal comments, the resultant screencast feedback is likely to be longer than 2 minutes, therefore to ensure the resultant screencast is of a file size that can be emailed:

·         The resolution of the video project requires to be 320x225

·         The quality of the video needs to be low

However it should be noted;

·         The resultant video is significantly reduced in quality for the recipient

·         A 14 minute video can take up to 1/2hr for the app to be compressed into MP4 format

      ·         The resultant file is 9Mb and therefore only just small enough to be emailed
Therefore realistically the app if providing feedback to a class individually then the app should be realistically used to provide short screencast feedback.  However lengthy and detailed feedback on complex websites or large electronic documents should to be one off exercise to an individual or a few groups on each of their website assessment submissions. A student’s reflections of receiving EAW formatted feedback on their online submitted dissertation:

“The audio/video feedback was helpful in explaining key points to the user, I did experience resolution issues and the screen was very small and hard to see.”

The student comment also highlights that the resolution size (set to solve issue being able to transfer the feedback to the student, as feedback on 50 page dissertation consisted of 14 minutes reflections) is a critical issue, to low may hindered wide adoption by students and staff.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Free or however to gain full functionality £1.49
iOS and Android OS platforms
This is not the standard dictionary supplied by the mobile phone OS provider, but an additional app that you can download for free or £1.49 version with additional features.
The app provides the user with the ability to search for spelling of a word by typing in part of a word and presents the user with a list of words to choose from or the user can speak the word, and the dictionary spells the word.
Once the user has the desired word the user is presented with;
·       Comprehensive list of the meaning of word
·       Visual display of the Synonyms (Synonyms displayed in blue are words in dictionary app that can be clicked on to find the definition of that synonym)
·       Sample sentences of the word being used in context (feature of paid version)
·       Different definitions of words and its orgins
·       The ability to have the word read out to the user
·       The ability to share on the social media; twitter, Facebook

As a dyslexic member of staff, the app simplifies a task that once could be described tall order for a disabled member of staff.  The app enables you to search for a word without having to know how to spell a word in the first place through voice, the results style enables the user to hear the word, see how to use the word in context, as well as its origins.  Thus ensuring the user has the right word, but also uses the word appropriately.  

In terms of education, any educationist tries to encourage their students to expand their vocabulary whether they are engineers or historians.   This app I whole heartily recommend to my first and second year students, particularly in relation in preparing their CVs or writing job application forms.  

The only feature that is missing from Spring 2013 app version is the visual tool provided in the web based application available through wed browser, where synonyms are illustrated using spider display.  Personally I prefer this visual display as it helps me to identify the synonym spelling I am seeking, as dyslexic it is quicker to spell the word you know to ascertain synonyms to then identify the word you are actually seeking.   In the app you can still click synonym for the meaning and example sentences.