Learning Computer Code

In a recent CNN article Douglas Rushkoff wrote about the value of learning computer code.  We are living in a world that is increasingly being defined by computer programs. “Code is the stuff that makes computer programs work — the list of commands that tells a word processor, a website, a video game, or an airplane navigation system what to do.”

Computer code is a cornerstone of our information ecosystem. By learning to code we are developing an aspect of digital literacy and increasing our job prospects.

At CodeYear over 300,000 people, including New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have signed up to receive free interactive coding lessons each week from the web-based tutorial, Codeacademy.

Another way to way to learn computer coding is with the iPad app Codea. Codea is remarkable code editing app that lets you create interactive simulations, games and just about any visual ideas you have.

“If you know how to code,” in Rushkoff’s words, “you can get a high-paying job right now, or make valuable stuff right now. You will understand more about how the world works, and become a participating member in the digital society unfolding before us.”

 

Customize Your Own Textbooks

Academic Pub is an application that let’s you make custom books for your students. It features real-time copy-right clearance and an ever-expanding content library along with the ability to add your own materials and articles from the web.

Your custom book can then be distributed to your students instantly to their iPad, computer, mobile device or in a softcover print edition.

App Alert: The Chemical Touch

As I started researching different educational apps to discuss on this blog, one name re-appeared again and again: The Chemical Touch. Through a touch-sensitive periodic table, this app allows chemistry students and aficionados alike to explore almost any detail you could wish to know about a selected chemical element, such as its density, melting and boiling points, or electronegativity. Flip the periodic table around to explore the amino acid of your choice.

Need more information than The Chemical Touch has to offer? Not to worry—one tap on the app’s “Internet” button and you are taken to your chosen element’s detailed Wikipedia page. And if you are looking for a no-frills periodic table, this app also comes in a simplified version, The Chemical Touch Lite. Both Chemical Touch apps have received rave reviews as helpful, user-friendly, and priced to sell—while the regular version goes for .99, the Lite can be downloaded from iTunes free of charge. And, it should be noted, that after a roughly 13-year hiatus from any formal chemistry instruction, I was hooked on The Chemical Touch within two minutes flat.

Diigo: Information Management

Diigo is a powerful information management tool. Diigo allows you to collect highlights, bookmarks, notes, screenshots and audio while exploring websites. You can access your Diigo account anywhere and share your collection easily through Mac or PC, any browser, iPad, iPhone and Android.

As educators we have access to free premium accounts that provide these additional features:

  • You can create student accounts for an entire class with just a few clicks (and student email addresses are optional for account creation).
  • Students of the same class are automatically set up as a Diigo group so they can start using all the benefits that a Diigo group provides, such as group bookmarks and annotations, and group forums.
  • Privacy settings of student accounts are pre-set so that only teachers and classmates can communicate with them.

The Last Supper: Virtual History

This app allows the user to move inside a three-dimensional re-construction of Leonardo’s masterpiece and to discover its secrets.

Using the iPad, we can enjoy a direct, literally “hands-on” relationship with da Vinci’s The Last Supper.  As if in a time machine, we can go back to the 15th century and climb da Vinci’s scaffolding to examine the still-white stucco, look at his paints and preliminary sketches, and re-live one of history’s most extraordinary creative moments.

The “Bubble Viewer” immersive solution turns the iPad into a sort of telescope that allows us to enter the painting, to experience the extraordinary perspective created by da Vinci in an all-round projection, to sit in front of the apostles, and even move behind them to see the view from the windows in the background. This is a totally new interactive experience, a completely new way of discovering this remarkable masterpiece.