The Next Wave of Classroom Technology

The following feature article was written for Waldorf’s “The Torch” quarterly magazine.  See the original article here!

We are living in very an unique time. It is a time where teenagers carry smartphones, college students live on their laptops, and jobs are centered around email, texting, and video conferencing.  For those who are behind or feel it is too hard to learn now – the world around them seems to be evolving faster than ever… and IT IS.

Graduating college just over 2 years ago, I was on the cusp of what is now somewhat of a technological revolution.  Since 2008, the adoption of smartphones has more than doubled for adults to an impressive 35% – and that number continues to grow.  A study by Pew Research Centers puts 18-24 year olds at an astonishing 49% using smartphones, and 58% of 25-34 year olds. So what does that mean? Nearly half of all college-aged students are carrying a smartphone – and it’s effecting how they learn. Continue reading “The Next Wave of Classroom Technology”

Review: Kurt Cobain’s Graphic Novel meets the Digital Realm (iPad App)

The iPad, for me, is a web browser, a productivity tool, and a way to consume visual media.  When I was tasked with checking out “Kurt Cobain: The Graphic Novel,” I was skeptical as to how it would fit into my typical iPad use – but I’m glad I gave it a try.

Downloading the app (available here) was a fairly painless process, although it does take a little time, even over wifi, due to the applications size.  The App Store requests the user to be 17+ in order to download, as the novel does contain some “R” rated (violence, drug use, sex, depicted suicide) content.  The $5.99 price tag was also relatively easy enough to swallow, especially for a Nirvana fan or comic book enthusiast.  The story takes you through the life, fame, and death of Cobain, in a unique and extremely visual 84 pages.

Overview: At first launch of the novel, you’re greeted with a comic book illustration of Cobain, with angel wings, on his knees crying, which very quickly establishes that this is the digital version of “Godspeed” – the print version of the Kurt Cobain graphic novel.  The home screen is optimized for both landscape and portrait viewing modes, but that doesn’t extend to the pages of the novel.  From the home screen, you can jump right into the comic, although there are a few other options (intro, help, about, etc).  There is also a light guitar riff that plays on the menu.  Enjoy it, because it’s the only sound included in the app. Clicking “enter” springs the comic open, and you’re immediately swept into the comic’s artwork by Flameboy.

To me, this feels like a real comic book, and, in my opinion, it is a truly brilliant use of the iPad’s screen.  They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and this graphic novel holds true to that.  The art work is dark, detailed, and tell most of the story by it’s self.  A simple double tap of the screen on any of the tiles will bring it full screen, and from there, users can swipe left or right to read it frame by frame.  This feature makes the digital version stand out over the print version and really improves the experience as a reader.


Verdict: Reading the novel, to me, almost felt like I was watching it on TV.  I found myself getting somewhat lost in my own imagination as I slid from one image to the next.  A soundtrackto the novel would have made it truly interactive, although the experience can be enhanced further by loading your iPad music library up with a handful of Nirvana tracks, and letting the music help set the mood of the graphic novel.

Comics and graphic novels are definitely a market that can utilize the iPad as a tool to further their reach, and “Kurt Cobain: The Graphic Novel” is a prime example.  If you’re into Nirvana/Kurt Cobain, or know someone who would really enjoy a digital comic, I recommend you check it out in the App Store… it’s worth it!

Rating: I would say that “Kurt Cobain: The Graphic Novel” is a 3.5 out of 5.

Pros:

  • Illustration Quality
  • Frame by frame content viewing
  • Like reading a ink and paper comic book

Cons:

  • Lack of audio content
  • Lack of true landscape version
This review was written by me, as a guest writer for Mactrast.com

Check out the original post HERE!!

1955-2011

In the passing of Steve Jobs, I felt it appropriate to dedicate the home page to Steve’s genius and different thinking.  I also wanted to share a handful of quotes that I feel can apply to many things in life.

“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”

 

“We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.”

 

“Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.… one is very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career…. …Apple’s been very fortunate it’s been able to introduce a few of these into the world”

 

“We’ve never worried about numbers. In the market place, Apple is trying to focus the spotlight on products, because products really make a difference. […] Ad campaigns are necessary for competition; IBM’s ads are everywhere. But good PR educates people; that’s all it is. You can’t con people in this business. The products speak for themselves.”

 

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

 

“The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people–as remarkable as the telephone.”

 

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

 

“Picasso had a saying: ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas…I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians, poets, artists, zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.”

 

“[Y]ou can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

 

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

 

“I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list….That didn’t look so good, but then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of lomotion for a man on a bicycle and a man on a bicycle blew the condor away. That’s what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”

 

“But there is one more thing…..”

 

“… Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

Steve Jobs: Think Different

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things. They push the human race forward.

And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do. – Steve Jobs, Former CEO & Founder, Apple Inc.

New Trends in Web Design…

The web is a constantly changing place, and the way we view websites and perceive “good vs bad” webpages has a lot to do with what is popular at a certain time, and what the abilities of the designer are/were at that time.  In today’s Web 2.0 world, with sites like wordpress, blogger, youtube, and a gamut of social networks, we are used to interacting with the web in a certain way.  Here are a few trends (for now) that make a site more visually appealing and user friendly.

Minimalism

Simplicity, lack of clutter, and precision… all words that describe what has been a fairly consistent trend in web design.  When designing, using empty space and allow it to frame your message – creating a more precise communication of the content that is most important.  When aiming for minimalism, I would suggest using a grid system—but keep in mind that designers have mixed opinions about this approach. Without a grid, though, there is a danger that what you produce will appear disorganized and incomplete.

Typography

A variety of type faces have been around for quite some time, and today designers are using it as a primary tool of innovation. Until recently, many web designers used a strict set web-safe fonts (Times New Roman, Helvetica, Arial). But with the growing numbers of tools and applications, typography has become a primary design element in its own right. The demand for larger and more exciting fonts is rapidly increasing, and these fonts are replacing the old system fonts as designers play with new techniques, styles, and sizes. Tools such as WhatTheFont, CSS Typeset and Typetester have helped designers be more creative and allow for different typeface to be used across the web.

 

Smashing Magazine on Textured Backgrounds

Textured Backgrounds

Literally everything I’ve seen lately has explored and implemented this in some form of another.  There is always some type of grain, noise, stitching, or other texture that subtly appears in the background of sites.  You many not fully notice it, but it’s back there, and there are a few things to know about using it…The visual experience of the audience increases exponentially if the background is aesthetically pleasing and precise. The points to focus on are simplicity of design and the illusion of textures to create depth and dimension on the page. Nothing too excessive, and nothing to transparent.  Test and retest until you find that perfect fit.

These are just a few trends that are currently popular… to see more, check out the links below and try different things to make your site unique and hip.

Web Design Shock

Active Web Group

Web Design Tuts+

Web Design Ledger