Lego is finally coming out with a tablet and Smartphone compatible Lego Mindstorm set. The Lego Mindstorm EV3 was announced at the 2013 CES show.
It is not quite clear how the new EV3 Mindstorm will work with Tablets and Smartphones but a new processor is the key. According to Lego:
“the EV3 Intelligent Brick now un‐tethers robots from the computer by providing users expanded on‐brick programming and tighter integration with smart devices.”
The new Intelligent Brick uses an ARM processor and Linux OS base that allows on board programming. My guess is that apps can be created to interact and program the smart brick. Right now it appears that the only app that Lego will release will be a remote.
The new EV3 intelligent brick does allows connection via bluetooth and wifi. This should make things easier.
Unfortunately the new Mindstorm set will not be available until the summer of 2013. The Lego education website lists the availability as the fall of 2013. The education set also appears to be $10 cheaper at $340 but it does not include software. Hopefully software will come with the non educational set and hopefully in the future you will not need a PC.
What do you think? Will you wait until the fall to pick up the new Lego Mindstorm set?
One of the best features of new Verizon shared data plan is the mobile hotspot feature. You no longer have to pay extra to use your phone as a mobile hotspot.
Thanks to the new Verizon shared data plans my iPad is no longer unconnected. In fact I am writing this post from my WIFI iPad which is connected to my iPhone via WIFI.
With the iPhone Hotspot I was able to check my email and preview this post on the iPad. Hotspot sharing was easy to setup. You just turn on the “personal Hotspot” in the iPhone options. It will tell you what the password is for the hotspot.
On the iPad Setup was simple. You just select your phone from the list of wifi networks then you enter your password. Once you’re connect, the iPad will automatically connect in the future and you won’t have to enter your password again. There are also options to connect over Bluetooth or via USB. I’ll have to try those options at home. Will you use the mobile hotspot?
By the way the 1GB data plan seems to be working just fine four our family with two iPhones. After all I was only using 200MB with AT&T. Update: apparently the iPad doesn’t always remember the password.
Its been a few months since Apple announced iBook2 with interactive features but unfortunately there are not very many iBooks with interactive features. I was thrilled to come across the video below because it showed that there are interactive kids iBooks in the bookstore. (You can buy the interactive iBook on insects here.) The video below is an excellent example of how you can use the iBooks authoring tool.
One of the nice features of iOS 5 is the define option. If you want to find out the meaning of a word just double touch the word. Press the arrow on the right and a define option is available. This feature seems to be available even without a network connection.
I know that there are many tablets now on the market. When I first saw the iPad I immediately thought about the possibilities of using a tablet for homeschooling. I was a little hesitant to buy the first generation iPad because of the price. I also kept hoping there would be a good Android tablet that was cheaper than the iPad. After a year of waiting for Android, I finally decided to buy a second generation iPad. I have not regretted that decision. With five kids at home, the iPad is a favorite school activity.
Here are my top five reasons i chose iPad for homeschooling
Large selection of quality apps (I can transfer iPhone apps to the iPad for free)
Large screen so more than one person can look at it.
Built with quality and size. No cheap plastic.
Long Battery life. I usually only charge it one or two nights a week.
iPad 2 vs. iPad
I bought a second generation iPad (16 GB) because it was the latest and it had a faster processor. In hindsight I think I would have bought a 1st generation iPad with more memory. The iPad 2 does have some nice bonus features but for most of what you need the first generation iPad will work.
Favorite feature: Automatic on with the cover opened. It is so nice to just open the cover and look something up and then close the cover and toss the iPad on the bed.
Least favorite feature: The camera: It is low quality and the kids sometimes take many pictures that take up memory. A close second least favorite feature is the 1 speaker! It isn’t very loud especially in a family with four boys.
Ultimately it now comes down to the software. Even though there are some good Android tablets on the market Apple has a good head start on applications. The applications make the tablet useful. The iPad is still the king of tablets.
Delete multiple pictures:
My 16Gb iPad is to full to add more content! After looking at my iPad closer, I discovered that one of my wonderful little angles used the camera to take the pictures shown above. They just so happened to be all the same! It was getting tiresome deleting one picture at a time. It seemed like there should be some way to delete multiple pictures at once on the iPad. Well there is a way to delete multiple pictures from the photo library. It’s not intuitive, but when you are viewing your photos, you can select multiple pictures. If you tap on the symbol in the upper right that looks like the symbol for export (highlighted in the picture below) you can select multiple photos.
You can then select a number of pictures and then delete as shown below.
Deleting documents in apps
I also found that I had multiple copies of PDF documents in different PDF reader apps. Some of the apps are easy to remove documents in iTunes but others require you to go into the app and delete the individual PDF documents.
iOS 5 options
One of the nice features of ios 5 is that you can view the memory of each app. You can find this in Settings-> usage. You can delete the apps that use up a lot of memory.
Now iCloud can be used to store up to 5GB of data free. This is useful if you have WiFi available. At the very least you can move some apps/documents to iCloud that you do not use very often. I have not found this option to be useful at this point but if you have found it useful I would love to hear about it.
While Keynote on the iPad is not perfect it does allow you to create personalized presentations on the iPad. Here are some of the ways I am using Keynote for Homeschooling:
Show a presentation at night in the dark or just sitting on the sofa.
Another way I have used Keynote and the iPad for homeschooling is by searching for a PowerPoint presentation on the topic I want to teach. I can download the PowerPoint presentation into Keynote and edit it to customize the presentation.
I am also using Keynote for customized flash cards. I have my son enter the Latin vocabulary word for the week into the presentation. When he is done we can review the presentation and practice the vocab words. You can read more about how I created a flash card slide show on my post about How to use Keynote on the iPad to make flashcards.
Features I would like to see incorperated into Keynote for the iPad:
Ability to change the theme
Ability to record the presentation similar to PowerPoint 2007
While Keynote is not perfect it still is a powerful app for homeschooling. I’d love to hear any ideas from anyone else who is also using an iPad for homeschooling.
In this webinar @tjhouston and @llacrosse will overview 20 apps in 20 minutes. These are the apps that were used in the classroom and found to be effective supplements to the curriculum. They were used with 5th grade science students while working with ipads for an entire school year.
While there is no perfect list of apps that will be guaranteed to work with all students in all classrooms, this list may be a good starting point for seeing the variety of apps available for the classroom. The types of apps available to teachers and students range from basic consumption of information apps to creation apps that allow teachers to provide a platform for students to showcase growth and learning. Each teacher and group of students will benefit from working to individualize their class with app usage. The best apps are those that work for YOUR content, YOUR class structure, and YOUR needs.
I was trying to help my son learn his multiplication facts and I was thinking about how I could make customized flashcards. I know there are a number of flashcard apps but I thought why not use the Keynote App already on my iPad. I took a few screen shots to show how I did it.
Setup the first slide
I started out using the dark slide template but it was too dark. I then changed to the chalkboard template. Unfortunately the font didn’t look very good so I had to customize the font. You can play around with some of the other built in templates and find one that works the best for your application.
Format the text
To change the appearance of the text, first select the text and then press the round i at the top of the screen.
The options box comes up and there are several different formats. Unfortunately you must scroll to the bottom of the options box to to edit the font.
Once you select “text options” at the bottom of the format box, you can change the font. I increased the size to 200 pt font which seemed to look the best.
I also had to change the font from the chalkboard writing to something normal.
Copy and pasting slides
Once you have the basic format then I recommend copying the slides and then editing the text for the other math facts. To copy the slide select the slide you want to copy on the left hand side. When the slide is selected an option will come up to copy the slide or paste it. Select copy and then paste below. If you select a slide and select paste then the slide will be pasted in after the slide that is selected.
Once I had all the multiplication facts I needed I decided I would copy slides at random so they would not be in order.
After I was finished I thought it might be nice to have the answer appear. To do this I inserted a text box with the answer. I then had to increase the font. To add an animation to the answer, you first select the text and then touch the diamond at the top. This allows you to choose different transitions. Select “Appear” or another transition and now the answer will appear when you swipe to the next slide.
There are numerous math apps for the iPad. How do you decide which one to buy? If you ask my kids which app they like they would say “Rocket Math”. While Rocket math is a good app it doesn’t always line up with my goals for them and math.
For instance my son is working on memorizing the multiplication facts. When given the chance to play my son of course chooses easy math targets so he can collect more money and build a better rocket. The rocket then becomes the object of the game for him not learning math facts. While this does get him interested, it is not necessarily the best and quickest way for him to learn his math facts.
It is for this reason I decided on the iPad Math App Math Board. Instead of using a math App to help my son learn, I decided to use Math Board to quiz him. One of the key features I looked for was the ability to quiz on only one multiplication family. For instance if my son needs help on the 7x’s tables then I can select an option to ensure that 7 is included in every quiz question. While the cost at $4.99 seemed a little high you can try out the Addition only Math Board App for free. My one complaint is that there are occasional messages about buying other apps even though I have the full version. Other then that the apps is great. One other feature that I try and shy away from with math apps is multiple choice.