Pages – iPad App of the Week

September 7, 2010

Pages – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is Pages.

Pages is the most beautiful word processing app ever designed for a mobile device. It’s the application you know and love for the Mac, completely reworked from the ground up for iPad. Documents look stunning on the bright, vivid iPad display. And writing is a dream with the large onscreen keyboard. You can use Apple-designed templates and Multi-Touch gestures to lay out letters, flyers, brochures, reports, and more. With Pages for iPad, it’s never been easier to create great-looking documents, all with the touch of a finger.

Pages has everything you need to create and share documents, including beautiful Apple-designed templates, easy-to-use formatting options, and advanced layout tools. Start with the perfect template and its matching styles. Or personalize your document using your choice of colors, fonts, and textures. Pages makes it easy to format your document. Style text, insert tabs, and set indents and margins with the streamlined style ruler. Use the Media Browser to add photos and videos from your Photos app. And make them look great with masks, shadows, reflections, and picture frames. You can resize, rotate, and move images around the page, and dynamic word wrapping automatically flows your text around them. Touch and tap to convert your document to multiple columns and insert tables to organize your data.

£5.99

Though it was always possible to type stuff on your iPhone or iPod touch, it was never really a wonderful experience and you wouldn’t want to use it for writing long documents.

When the iPad was released I was very keen to see if it could be used as a laptop replacement, especially during conferences and events. I do actually write a fair bit at conferences and events, either short articles for the blog or stuff for work. So I knew I would need a word processing app of some kind, as the Notes app wasn’t really going to hack it. Of course at the iPad release Apple also released their iWork apps, including the Pages word processing app. I do like Pages on the Mac so was interested to see if the iPad version would be any good. I actually purchased Pages (and the other iWork apps) before my iPad had arrived so I could use these apps straight away.

Rather than do an immediate review I decided to wait a few months to see how it fared. I have used Pages at home, work and at various events and conferences.

At the end of the day the key question is do I use Pages to write documents?

The answer is yes. I have used Pages to write a fair few documents and blog articles (including a first draft of this posting). I have also used it to draft e-mail and blog comments to avoid “losing” any text in case I needed to swap between Safari and other apps. I have used both the on screen keyboard and used an Apple Bluetooth keyboard.

As I attend conferences and events this academic year I expect the iPad to be my main word processing application.

Pages though is a lot more than just a simple word processor, if all you need is a simple word processor then the included Notes app is probably just fine.

With Pages it is possible to use different styles, fonts and weights. Allowing you to create formatted documents very easily. Though you will have to use the built-in fonts and you won’t be able to use your own.

Like its big brother on the Mac there are various templates to get you started, though nearly everytime I start off with a blank document.

Where I think Pages falls down is on document management, specifically getting documents on and off the iPad. For example in getting documents off the iPad you have three quite limited options.

You also need to remember to Export your document if you want to remove it via the file management part of iTunes! Sending via e-mail is often the easiest option, whilst iWork.com is really in my opinion still in beta and you will need a MobileMe account to use this option. There are three Export options, Pages, PDF and Word.

Once you have exported you can share that exported file via one of the file sharing Apps such as AirSharing.

Getting files into Pages is not that simple. Even if you copy files over through iTunes, you then still need to import them again into the Pages App.

Not sure why and not sure why it doesn’t do this automatically. You have to specific Pages in iTunes!

Import and export aside, the Pages App is quite powerful allowing you to bring in images, shapes and create graphs for your documents.

Overall I do like this App, it’s powerful, it’s flexible and it’s easy to use. I know some people will baulk at the £5.99 price tag for what is an iPad app, but come on lets be realistic, £5.99 for a word processor, that isn’t that bad. If you have an iPad I would recommend this app.

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The lecture is dead

September 7, 2010

Donald Clark opened the ALT 2010 Conference with a controversial keynote on the lecture.

This keynote certainly got people riled and discussing the lecture on the Twitter back channel. I do think that Twitter has changed how we discuss keynotes now. In the last we would have discussed the keynote after it had finished, either over coffee or a reflective article like this one. Twitter allows discussion during the keynote itself and brings in people who are not even in the auditorium or at the conference.

So what was the gist of the keynote, well the lecture is dead!

Donald gave us a history of the origins of the lecturer, attacked the value of the lecture and showed us a clip from Ferris Bueller. He talked about the culture of research which pervades HE and that good researchers don’t necessarily make good teachers. I didn’t feel though he offered us any real alternatives though.

In my experience there are good lectures and there are bad lectures. However it would appear that the good inspiring lectures are rare. The key question is the norm of the lecture so ingrained into the culture of our institutions that any one questioning their value is seen to be questioning not just the value of lectures but also the value of the institution. Do we lecture because we have always given lectures?


ALT-C 2010 Day #1

September 7, 2010

So it’s Tuesday the 7th September and I am in Nottingham for ALT-C. It’s a very busy day with lots on and I have a fair bit to do too.

The conference opens at 10.00am and then Donald Clark delivers the first keynote of the conference.

He is intending to be controversial and I need to pay attention more so than usual as I will be on a panel later discussing the keynote.

…there’s a dark secret at the heart of HE that really holds it back – the lecture. Apart from being pedagogically suspect, many are badly delivered and few are recorded. Donald will do some deconstruction of the lecture in terms of its history, lack of relevance in the terms of the psychology of learning and serious limitations for students.

This may well be controversial for the largely HE audience at ALT-C whose institutions are dominated by lectures.

And before you ask, yes he is aware of the contradiction!

After the keynote there are many parallel sessions and as per usual a fair choice of subjects and topics. I quite like the idea of the mobile learning demonstrations, but I do know a fair bit about that subject so will probably not go. The Fun with ‘Faux-positories’ sounds like  a different and interesting workshop.

This workshop will give participants a chance to work hands-on with Diigo and Netvibes to develop their own resource sharing and dissemination sites for their departments, communities, or classes.

Alas it was cancelled due to illness.

I do also think the two e-book short papers would be of interest and useful for the symposium later on.

After lunch I am as I had said part of the facilitated discussion on Donald’s keynote. I suspect this will prove quite popular once the keynote has happened!

Like the morning the afternoon parallel sessions offer a wide choice.

I think the Changing staff development short papers will be useful. The demonstration on copyright would also be of interest, less sure about the advertising demo in the same session.

I am really liking the look of the Institutional changing paradigms short papers session.

I would probably attend the Student voice expectations short papers session, however from the abstracts it looks like it may have too much of an HE focus to be really useful.

After a range of other sponsored presentations I will be running my e-book symposium.

After dinner there is a range of F-ALT activity and the EduBloggers meet up in the city centre.

As is usual for ALT-C a very packed and busy day.