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The Stylus is Mightier than the Sword

Let’s say you’re having one of those days where you bring in your tablet to class and nothing else. You think it is going to be alright- I mean, you have your textbook and notebook in that magical box right in front of you, so nothing can go wrong.

That is, until you feel that sense of nostalgia kicking into the pit of your stomach. The tapping and snapping of classmates’ pens around you make you feel the urge to join in on the sweet feel of the oh so vintage pen rubbing through your fingertips. You miss the smell of it’s ink, and even the marks they used to leave on the palm of your hand. But it’s too late, nothing can be done now as you have already made the transition into the modern world by purchasing your tablet.

That my friend, is where you are wrong. You are forgetting that modern companies have created the new modern pen: the stylus. While the stylus may not replicate the old pen in it’s entirety, the look and feel are irresistible.

Here are some stylus’ reviewers from the Verge thought were useful:

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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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iPad + Dropbox + Airsketch = Cheap & Easy Interactive Whiteboard

Have you ever wanted to annotate pictures, slideshow presentations, class readings, or any other files during a lecture? For example, say you’re examining a work of art that is full of visual symbolism. When discussing this art work, it would be helpful to highlight the symbolic objects in the painting for the whole class to see, right? Now, using only an iPad, ePodium, and two apps…you can very easily do this!

The video below shows the process of turning your iPad and projector into an interactive whiteboard. Before you get started following the tutorial, you will need to download two apps to your iPad: Dropbox and Airsketch. Note that you will need to create a Dropbox account. You will also need to convert the file you wish to annotate to PDF format and upload the file to Dropbox. Here are links to tutorials from the Learning Technologies website that will guide you through this process:

Full transcript available here via Google Docs

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: