Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Yes, I was one of ‘those’ lining up to have a pay with the iPad when it got released here in Australia. I was a bit so-so about it all, but had to see for myself what all the fuss was (is) about. What I discovered was that it’s not so much about seeing for yourself, it’s about interfacing for yourself. That’s the thing with the iPad: it’s not just a viewer or a portal or a ‘web device’, it’s something that you interact with in feeling and touching. It’s not just about seeing.
I’m hooked. Unfortunately it’s beyond my means to buy one myself and so I’ve been living vicariously through first a lovely professor at uni, then my parents (I have visitation rights), and now a friend’s as I babysit her children. I’m currently updating this blog from it, and although I’m a bit frustrated that I can’t easily flick between apps and put in Flickr pics etc, I know it’s because I haven’t set up the back end of my blog to make that easy rather than a limitation of the iPad itself (athough multi-tasking in iOS 4 will be nice!). And sure, typing isn’t the easiest and the iPad’s corrective spelling can be annoying, but wow. I’m impressed!! I struggle to write extended text on my iPhone whereas this is a joy in comparison. I can see the iPad as being a practical tool in field work, especially observational work because it’s not as obtrusive as using a laptop and much easier to use than an iPhone.
Here’s hoping another team of students take up my iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad project next semester: I’m looking forward to trying out Jot It Down on this “magic and revolutionary device”!!
Cross-posted to my research blog: http://www.exploringthehyper.net/blog
Saturday, March 20th, 2010
There must be something more interesting for social scientists to do with their computers than coding data.
Mason & Dicks, 2001, p. 441.
And I certainly agree! I gave a “Friday Morning Seminar” presentation to the faculty of Education a couple of weeks ago in which I described how I am using technologies to research technologies.
When I first started this research “journey,” I was highly influenced by what I read in the Horizon Report. I knew that working and researching in the field of educational technologies would mean that my work would be quickly outdated unless I was very forward thinking. My “contribution to knowledge” may be obsolete before I could even start writing! In this goal of forward-thinking, the Horizon Report was of great help. The Horizon Project, for which the report is produced, “charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative inquiry.” And so in writing my research proposal, I paid close attention to the ideas and technologies the report charted for 3-5 years time (now!). I was particularly interested in the ideas of “The New Scholarship and Emerging Forms of Publication” and, of course, the many tools that would (could) be used for and in research.
Cue a few technological developments that occurred as I engaged field work, in a very short amount of time. Digital still cameras became far cheaper and accessible, often with video capture; netbooks (sub notebooks) were released and again, were cheap and accessible; USB digital video cameras became the norm rather than tape-based cameras; WiFi became widespread not just in libraries but also in cafes and many schools; wireless broadband coverage increased and became a viable option; and finally the iPhone was released. Online video (YouTube, for instance), blogging, and data storage in “the cloud” also became a part of many web users’ vocabularies. I experimented using all of these tools during my field work to capture, collect, collate and re-present data. With traditions of ethnography in mind, I was looking and seeing (ala Harry Wolcott) technology in classroom case-studies using technology to do so, and now I am evaluating its use. What happened? How? Why? Was there any (perceived) benefit to using ICTs when more ‘traditional’ methods may have sufficed? But my biggest question -
How do we ensure that looking with technology (in ethnographic fieldwork) is good looking?
Stay tuned – this is what I’ll be writing about over the next few weeks. But first, the nitty gritty of the methodology chapter!
Sunday, March 7th, 2010
I can’t believe I’ve had the iPhone for nearly 2yrs now (I wrote about my excitement it back in 2008), and how much I’ve come to use it so much I forget that I’m using it. Of course I can look that or this up straight away. Of course I can access my email whilst doing my grocery shopping. Of course I can send a tweet with a photo of a weird and wonderful happening. Of course I can access a restaurant’s menu and read patron’s reviews from the car park before deciding where to eat. Of course. And of course I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to work with two outstanding groups of ICT333 students on the development of an iPhone app for ethnographic field work. The 2008 team created a project management style app at a time when the iPhone and app development was still very much a novelty and there weren’t too many models around. They called it “Jot It Down,” or “JID,” based on the idea that the ethnographer would be able to jot down notes quickly while in the field and keep them all together with voice recordings, photos and other data collected using the iPhone. The 2009 team then extended the functionality of JID to have it sync with my Omeka database (and they did a lot of work improving its user interface and help system!).
All I can say is… wow. What a great job the two teams have done! At the moment, only the “notes” function in JID syncs (well, not “sync,” it’s a one-way upload) with Omeka, and another team is needed to finish it off so that photos, audio recordings and other data can also be uploaded, but I think that we’re well on the way to having a useful app! The fact that it will also work on the upcoming iPad is exciting as well. I love the idea that an ethnographer can capture and collect data in the field, upload it to “the cloud” (securely), and get feedback from a remote supervisor at point of need. And the data can’t be lost, left on the bus, etc. And! A lot of metadata entry is carried across! Fabulous! No more manually entering the time, date, location and so forth for each individual item.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to use this app myself in the field, but its design is based on my experiences of using other iPhone apps and ICTs whilst undertaking classroom observations. Lets cross our fingers and hope for another team to take up this project, and that it might enter the app store some day soon.
Monday, March 1st, 2010
Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
I spend a lot of time checking out new software as it comes across my feeds and can pretty quickly decide if it’s something I’d find useful/not (especially in terms of classroom technologies). Sometimes new software / upgrades really makes me sit up and go “wow”. iTunes DJ is one of those, and quite unexpectedly so.
I upgraded iTunes yesterday and didn’t bother to look at what it’d done until today. iTunes DJ opened up and I thought, OK, yeh, cool, I can create playlists from my phone without having to go to my computer. I currently have AirTunes set up (it plays my iTunes through my speakers in another room wirelessly) and I’ve been using my iPhone as a remote for it for a while. But now guests can request songs and vote on the order they should be played in via their own iPhone or iPod Touch without having full passcode access.
This makes me take a step back and go, “Wow”.
I used to play music in my classroom all the time – Indonesian music, that is. And I’d always be in control of it. But it’d be great to have my students vote on the songs they’d like to hear (all in the target language, of course!). That’s awesome.
Also at parties – very cool to have your guests contribute to the playlist. Or in a restaurant? Or a pub?
Lots of possibilities. Simple feature, lots of fun.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Lining up for the iPhone on release day was akin to lining up for Harry Potter. There was a sense of anxiety-anticipation in the line and an awful lot of people who you’d expect to see immortalised in The Joy of Tech Comic. Myself included.
I knew that the iPhone would become an essential tool in my EdD research. I was using my (very pretty) Motorola flip phone to take photos, videos and record audio, but the iPhone would potentially allow me to upload content directly, and also download information at point of need, quickly. After following iPhone developments in the US for over a year, and having stroked and tapped around a few at PodCamp, of course I was in that line.
So a few months on, what have I discovered? First, I don’t use anywhere near my cap. I went for the $59 Optus Cap Plan because it was by far the best value. But I don’t use the 500mb of data and $350 of calls. It’s nice to know that I could and it’s nice not to fear the bill, but because most places I go have WiFi, I find that I don’t use the 3G network a great deal for data.
Second, there are amazing benefits and also surprising disadvantages. The lack of cut’n'paste and MMS messaging has been well documented and moaned about, as has the battery life. The benefits? The web browsing, intuitive nature, and all-round awesomeness have also been raved about. And I agree.
So what is it I’m actually using? What apps form my research toolkit? A team of students in ICT333 are currently working on a specialised app for me to manage ethnographic fieldwork, but at the moment I use a grab-bag of apps. I also use different ones for my different hats as a Language teacher, as a Gen Y socialiser, and as someone who gets hours of entertainment from bubble-wrap. Here are my faves for research:
This allows me to blog directly from my phone. Whether it’s notes at conferences and seminars, “to do” items, reflections while in the field, or ideas to follow up, my research blog is immediately accessible. And I can’t lose it or leave it on a train.
This is the audio-recorder that I use for interviews. The iPhone’s internal microphone is adequate, but not at podcast quality. For research purposes though? Perfect. I chose this app over others because, months ago, it was the only one that allowed the audio to be downloaded to a computer, and that could be paused during recording. Considering the number of interruptions during interviews, this is important! Now there’s quite a few more on the App Store but I’ve stuck with what I know.
I haven’t used a map book since I got my iPhone. Finding my research sites is so much easier now! This also allows me to account for kilometers to claim back petrol when I’ve forgotten to reset my car’s odometer.
Allows me to access and edit my delicious bookmarks.
These have potential:
DataCase and AirSharing
Backup work, documents, audio, etc. via WiFi (the iPhone becomes a storage device). Why this can’t be done via USB (as you could with older generation iPods) is beyond me.
A data collection tool for observations. It’s unclear, though, whether you can have a text input field for extended responses – this could replace my (paper-based) Observation Schedules if it does. Then again, I find that I need to look at the keyboard on the iPhone when I type, unlike a normal keyboard or pen’n'paper. During classroom observations, it’s essential that I observe the class… not my iPhone.
- An app that allows me to upload data directly to my Omeka archive. This would be especially useful for photos, and cut out the step between collecting data in the field and uploading.
- A “to do” list that syncs with iCal.
- USB transfer of data – I can bake a cake in the time it takes to sync if I have a lot of interviews.
I’ll be writing about using the iPhone as Method/s as part of my methodology chapter. Maybe I should write it on my iPhone? Speak it? Photograph it? If only I could video it…