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Back-to-School Apps for Instructors and Students

In the spirit of back-to-school season, onlinecolleges.net recently published lists of recommended smartphone apps for students and instructors. We’ve decided to share a few of their favorites–as well as some of ours–with you here:

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Smartphones as Learning Tools

Last Spring, we posted an article about using cell phones in the classroom. Nearly every student, staff and faculty member has one, and in the past years there’s been a push to harness the technology for educational enhancement. But now an even more advanced mobile technology is becoming ubiquitous–smartphones. There are now 91.4 million smartphones in the United States, and many students are the proud owners of these devices. In addition to standard cell phone features of calling and texting, smartphones make it easy to browse the web, play games, check the news, study for a test, and much more all thanks to different applications that can be installed on the phone.

With technology constantly advancing, it may be only a matter of time until cell phones are replaced completely by smartphones. It’s no wonder, considering possession of a smartphone is having knowledge & resources at your fingertips (literally). This brings to mind the idea of smartphones in the classroom. Want to get the latest on a current event? Open a news app. Need to spell check something? Use the dictionary on your phone. Looking for background information on a topic? Open Wikipedia for a quick review.

But the dilemma with smartphones in the classroom is similar to laptops in the classroom. How do we use the technology without distracting students from the class work? In a Campus Technology article published recently, this question is tackled. The authors give several tips on best practices for smartphones in the class, which will be highlighted after the jump:

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Photoshop App Now Available

Big news for tablet users: Adobe has just released a Photoshop app, now available from the App Store and Android Market. The App, called Photoshop Touch, is a simplified version of the advanced computer software. It also is available at a fraction of the cost: only $9.99.

This is Adobe’s first Photoshop app, and from the video below, it looks like they pulled it off. Although you may not want to use it for advanced photo projects, the simple tools and clean interface seem great for portable photo editing and for those with little experience with Photoshop.

Perhaps in the near future, Photoshop Touch will be a popular cheap alternative to the classic Photoshop software. Provided that they have the hardware, this app also has the potential to save schools money. Take a look:

In Case You Missed It: Major eTextbook Announcement by Apple

Last Thursday, Apple unveiled iBooks 2, the company’s new platform for interactive eTextbooks. TG Daily reports that since then, Apple has sold over 350,000 of their new textbooks.

Also unveiled (which may be more exciting for instructors) was a Mac App called iBooks Author. iBooks Author is a free app that allows anyone to create an interactive textbook for the iPad. It supports images, slideshows, and various other widgets.

Currently, there are only eight available textbooks in the iBooks 2 store, all seemingly at high school-level. This makes sense, considering the keynote presentation focused mainly on the education of K-12 students. However, we can’t help but cross our fingers in hopes that this new approach to textbooks catches on in the world of higher education as well.

If you have an iPad and would like to take a firsthand look at what these new textbooks are all about, E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth is available for free on the iBooks 2 store. The other eTextbooks are still priced reasonably at $14.99/book.

EDIT: Chelsea Stark, of Mashable, posted the following chart several hours ago, comparing iBooks Author to other self-publishing software. Check it out:

The iPads in Arts and Sciences Blog

iPads in A&S is a great blog dedicated to providing help, advice, and tutorials on using the iPad in an educational setting. The blog is run by the University of Alabama’s College of Arts and Sciences. Although some information is specific to the university and/or department, it’s still a very valuable tool and can help out with a variety of situations you and your iPad may get into:

As you may be able to tell, this site provides useful information to anyone from beginners to advanced iPad users. Check in every so often and learn something new!