Virtual Field Trips, Part II

We wrote about virtual field trips in June, including some options for integrating these into your course.

Virtual field trips are a featured collection this week in the apps and iTunesU sections of the iTunes Store. There are both iPad and iPhone apps that cover museums, historic sites, national parks, libraries, and performing arts.

Here’s a screenshot of just a few of the apps in the collection:

screenshot of iTunes store field trip apps

Sample listing of virtual field trip apps from the iTunes Store.

Happy travels!

p.s. If you’re looking to explore the world in a less focused manner, you can check out my favorite new addiction, GeoGuessr. This is a free online guessing game based on Google Street View images. The game will show you a random image, and you drop a pin on a world map based on where you think the image was taken. The game then calculates the distance between reality and your guess. This is a fascinating way to make the work of decoding images fairly transparent. It’s also a great illustration of how little images really tell us – or maybe I’m just uniquely horrible at the game!

Bloom’s Taxonomy in the Smartphone and Tablet Era

Bloom’s Taxonomy, the prism through which many of us have been taught to evaluate learning outcomes, is changing. The general trend is to focus more applications of knowledge, rather than knowledge for its own sake. In the updated version, the act of remembering replaces “knowledge” at the base of the triangle. Progressively more intense higher-order thinking skills are enumerated moving upward toward the peak of the triangle, culminating with learners creating knowledge. The act of synthesis, absent in the revised taxonomy, likely has always found its way into the work of analysis, evaluation, and creation.

Of course, Bloom’s taxonomy is not the only way to graphically represent the cognitive processes associated with learning. Other revisions have represented the taxonomy as a series of interlocking gears, a blooming rose (hah!), and a feathered bird – just to name a few. Notably, Rex Heer at Iowa State’s Center for Excellence in Teaching has created a nice flash model of the way that the cognitive processes mesh with different levels of knowledge that learners will need to complete the task. It’s definitely worth clicking on the link in the previous sentence and then playing a little with the interactive graphic.

Recently, I’ve run across a few revisions of Bloom’s taxonomy focusing just on the apps available for tablets and smartphones. Check out the Padogogy Wheel:

I love the multitude of apps identified above – what better way to find something new that just might work for you? However, if you’re looking for something a little cleaner, here’s a nice distillation:

Of course, not all the apps are appropriate for your content, level, or course goals. You might use the above information to guide students when helping them select research, presentation, or study tools. If you’re currently using – or contemplating using – one of the apps identified above, this should give you a sense of the cognitive range of the app. Last, if you’re not yet sure how smartphones and tablets fit into the classroom and individual learning processes, hopefully these graphics have provided some food for thought.

If you’re looking for still more apps, the Koehler Center has a list of both discipline-specific and general study, writing, and document management apps. In addition, some of the web 2.0 tools identified on our website also have their own apps.

Apps on tablets and smartphones are more than just cool tools. In particular, some apps make it very easy for students to transition from sophisticated curators of knowledge of innovative creators of knowledge – that is, to ascend to the highest level in the revised Bloom’s taxonomy.

Do you have an app you love to use with your students? What impact does this app have on student learning? Alternately, is there an app that would benefit your students’ learning that you’d love to create?


I’m a huge fan of the photo sharing site Flickr, especially since they finally got it together and released some Flickr apps for smartphones and a Flickr app for the iPad. However, I understood Flickr to be primarily place where you uploaded all 2,347 pictures of your new baby (ahem). But recently I’ve run across a few other blog posts detailing the scholarly side of Flickr. Who knew?!

The Academic Technology blog at the College of William and Mary has a great post discussing the options for sharing your research-related images. How do you share a gallery of annotated images with select individuals without the need for additional accounts on the part of the viewers? A Flickr album!

Note that the above presumes you have – and have the rights to use – the images. If you’d like to use properly licensed Flickr images, there’s a lovely how-to from Derek Bruff, the director of the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching and a senior lecturer in the department of mathematics there. ProfHacker has also recently outlined how to use Flickr to make better slides.

If you’re not finding the images you need through Flickr, you can always try Google: we’ve written about finding properly licensed images using Google image search.

And, in case you feel like going image-crazy, here is a past post of ours about the ways in which you might find, edit, and use digital images.

Educational Android Apps

We’ve shared a fair amount of iPhone and iPad apps with you recently. While most of the apps we’ve reviewed also work on other devices, this Android-focused list of educational apps is a nice, specific collection. I especially like that the list is broken down by age level and app function. Gamma rays, guitar chords, and graphing calculators – bring it on!

If you’re interested in more apps, you might review the list of mobile and tablet apps collected by the Koehler Center team. We’ve highlighted both discipline-specific apps and apps for note-taking, reading, writing, organization, studying, and collaboration.

Taking Attendance

As an instructor, you may have less overt ways of taking attendance than simply calling roll and marking it down on a piece of paper (quizzes, clickers, or exit slips come to mind). However, you gather the data, this sort of information is exceedingly useful to have, whether to illustrate the general relationship between attendance and success or discuss performance issues with particular students.

If you’re not using one of the methods above (or perhaps in conjunction with them), there’s a new app for i-devices, Attendance2, that can help you keep track of classroom attendance  – and easily communicate an individual student’s records with him/her. Designed by a computer science professor, the app is getting some good press. It’s easy to create classes (using contacts or a .csv upload), track customized fields of information (beyond present/absent), and use the app to randomly select students who are present in order to insure equitable classroom participation.

I’m also mulling over some other (less spiffy, perhaps) ways to track attendance. Stay tuned!

TCU’s Pearson LearningStudio Mobile Website

login page of TCU LearningStudio mobile websiteAs courses are ramping up and our calendars are filling with meetings, lectures, and other campus events, now seems like the perfect time to post a little reminder about TCU’s Pearson LearningStudio mobile website.

The mSite is a slimmed down version of your Pearson LearningStudio experience, designed for mobile devices (including iPads). No special downloads or apps are required!

Users can use the browser on any device to access the mSite at or visit

What can you do/see on the msite?

Courses – A user can see their currently enrolled courses.

Announcements – A user can see all of the Announcements within each course. Rich text is supported in Announcements.

Activity – Activity is a cross-course feed that shows the user what’s happening in their courses. Items include threads posts and responses, Dropbox submissions, and Gradebook items.

Upcoming – Upcoming shows the user a cross-course list of upcoming events, which includes any item with a due date, or start/end date. Included in this list are scheduled threads, quizzes/exams, and HTML content with due dates.

Discussions – The Discussions section shows active discussions (posts within the last 24 hours) from across a user’s courses, and let’s the user see all topics, organized by unit. Discussion topics support rich text and images. Users can reply to any topic or response. When a message is unread in Discussions, a colored bar shows to the left of the cell as a subtle indicator that the user has not yet read the message.

Gradebook – A user can see their Gradebook, with both graded and ungraded items, and see details for graded items.

Want more information? Check out or msite how-to videos for instructors and students.

Apps by Students

Check out this list of the 25 best smartphone apps developed by students. I think it’s great that these apps were developed by students, but it’s even better than so many of them are geared at problems that students (and the rest of us!) seem to have: finding your car in parking lot, keeping track of your schedule, managing your to-do list, etc.

(On the topic of apps, the Koehler Center’s general list of useful mobile and tablet apps may also be helpful.)