Apps for the Commuter: Update

April 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

In January I shared how I make the most of my commute by having VoiceOver read books and articles to me: Apps for the Commuter.  I’m attending an Apple Leadership event at Apple headquarters in Cupertino today, and I just found out a better way to use VoiceOver.  I’ve always thought I had to turn it on and have it on for everything.  It turns out there is a shortcut that makes it easier to turn on and off on the fly.  Here are the directions. « Read the rest of this entry »


Apps for the Commuter

January 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last week, Profhacker’s Open Thread Wednesday asked about our favorite mobile apps.  The text of my response is below, with the addition of links:

I have to give a shout out not to an app but to some built in functionality in iPads and iPhones. My commute can be up to an hour, and since public transportation is not an option that means all driving and no reading.

I find VoiceOver–one of the accessibility features on the iPad and iPhone–to be invaluable. Here’s how I include it in my workflow. During breakfast, I read RSS feeds using Mr. Reader on my iPad. (I love this app because I can send articles to Instapaper, Diigo, twitter, etc.). I send the articles I want to read later to Instapaper and make sure they download before I leave the house. (I only have wireless on my iPad, so no downloads on the road.) In the garage, I open Instapaper and ask Siri to turn on VoiceOver. Then I start my iPad reading and listen to the morning’s news while I drive. When I arrive on campus, Siri is once again working on the campus wireless network, so I have her turn off VoiceOver.

Turning on VoiceOver

Turning on VoiceOver

You can also turn VoiceOver on and off using the menu, but when it is on it takes more clicks. You can find the feature under Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver. You can also set the speed of the voice here.  I find I have to keep mine closer to the tortoise and the hare so I can follow the text while I am driving.  Be aware that touch gestures may be different in this mode.  For example, you must click to select, then double click to open items.  Scrolling is also different.

Alternatively, I have used Voiceover to read books in the kindle app. I found that I could do one chapter of Hirsch’s Digital Humanities Pedagogy per drive, and I could almost hear Lisa Spiro or Tanya Clement talking as their works were read to me. I also used VoiceOver when riding in an airport shuttle when reading made me queasy.

Using my iPad for this reading means that my iPhone is still free for other uses, like checking traffic on the maps app during traffic jams.  I find this type of reading useful for texts I want to familiarize myself with but which I don’t need to go in depth. Since I’ve also saved them to diigo, I can always go back to them when I need to read deeper.  VoiceOver works better on connected prose because if you miss a word, you can usually get the meaning by context.  Finally, I had to slow the pace of the voice down to make sure I caught everything.

My latest at NITLE’s Techne blog: iPad: Paper or Computer?

August 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Originally posted on August 25, 2010 at NITLE’s Techne blog,

iPad as Paper

Since we started asking the NITLE community to vote on their favorite apps for teaching and learning, I’ve been thinking about how faculty, in particular, might use the iPad.  Our app survey was prompted by a conversation I had last week with Jeffrey Wetherill, Director of Instructional and Research Technology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  He gave me this very practical list of questions he expects to hear from faculty:

  • how to print
  • how to teach with it
  • how to move files around

I was particularly struck by the first question, “how to print,” because as an iPad user, that one never occurred to me.  In fact, I purchased an iPad so I wouldn’t have to print, and I think that the iPad may help faculty reduce their need for printing. « Read the rest of this entry »

My latest at NITLE’s Techne blog: iPad Apps for Teaching and Learning at Small Liberal Arts Colleges?

August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Originally posted on August 19, 2010 at NITLE’s Techne blog,

It seems like every day there is a new story about iPads being handed out on campuses. Here is today’s Chronicle story: Williston State, in North Dakota, Gives iPads to Its Full-Time Professors.  One quote caught my eye, “Mr. Grunenwald isn’t sure how he will use the new tool in his teaching.”  My colleague Ruben Ruiz asked much the same question in a recent discussion on our nitle-it email list.  His query about translating the iPad’s popularity into practical classroom engagements initiated a discussion of managing iPads lent out by institutions.  One question prompted by that discussion is, “What apps do you put on it?”

There are now over 18,000 apps available, a number that was the topic of a recently closed NITLE Futures Market.  So, how do you cut that list down to the best apps that faculty or students would want to use if you were giving them the iPad (as opposed to those who make the decision to buy it themselves). « Read the rest of this entry »

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