Sunday, March 17, 2013

TI-Nspire App... My thoughts

Well! It's been a long time since I posted a blog entry. Life does not seem to be getting any less busy. But I seem to be sitting with my smartphone and some time to spare... so lets go:)

I should mention before I write this blog post that I am a National Instructor with Texas Instruments. TI has provided me with some phenomenal professional development opportunities over the years. I have also been a facilitator of professional development for Texas Instruments technologies with other teachers as well... which I thoroughly enjoy. And for that I am, and continue to be, extremely grateful.

Furthermore I like the entire TI-Nspire ecosystem. Its TI-Nspire Navigator system easily creates the connected math classroom... one that is much harder to replicate with other technologies... including the Apple ecosystem... but I so like the Apple ecosystem too.

I use the iPad my wife gave me a couple of years ago on a regular basis. I have given her two iPhones and I am writing this blog post with my own personal iPhone. My daughter has an iPad mini. And my next laptop will most likely be a Mac... needless to say I like the Apple ecosystem. I have ever since I taught in Nunavut where I worked with fellow teachers to equip our school with iMacs and Power G 3's years ago. Therefore the release of the app is a merging of two technology ecosystems I use and enjoy so much.

The most striking feature, in my opinion, is the ability of the app to access the camera capabilities of the iPad. The user has the choice of taking a picture or accessing the photos from the camera app. Either way, images can be easily inserted into TI Nspire document files for further analysis. For example, a snapshot from Vernier's Video Physics App can be brought into the TI-Nspire app for further analysis. It provides both colour images to mathematics as well as easy access to real world applications of mathematics.

The second feature that I like is the ability to save and access files via Dropbox. This use of cloud storage will allow teachers to send and receive TI-Nspire document files to students with simplicity. File storage is also available via iTunes, but I like the Dropbox option better... personal preference only though.

Since the iPad has access to the Internet through WiFi, any data that is accessible on the web can be accessed on the iPad. With a simple copy/paste gesture, any data that a teacher wishes to conduct analysis on can be copied and pasted into the List and Spreadsheet application within the TI-Nspire app. For example data collected from students using Google Forms can be analyzed easily in the app.

Although it could, and perhaps should be at the top of the list, the touch capabilities of the app work quite well. Having used the TI Nspire teacher software on multiple interactive whiteboard products (Smart, Mimio, etc...), using the touch capabilities of the TI Nspire app on the iPad seemed much more smoother that what I am accustomed to on interactive whiteboard products.

While I could go on and on about other features that I like, I will talk about only one more. If you are familiar with the TI-Nspire at all you will know that there are numerous templates for graphing and calculating just about everything under the sun. It is one of the reasons why TI-Nspire is so powerful. All of those templates are accessible with the touch of a finger, or the holding down of a finger. For anyone used to the touch interface within iOS (touching buttons or holding down to access more menu items) this keyboard is simple to use. Immediately next to it is the touch keyboard that so many of us iOS users enjoy. This means that teachers and students can author some powerful TI-Nspire documents with ease, using the iPad.

With this app, and an Apple TV (another Apple product I own), a teacher can quite easily create and use some very interactive learning objects with their students as well as explore mathematics to a much deeper level in their classroom. If a teacher includes the CAS version of the app as well as the extremely well populated Math Nspired and Science Nspired sites provided by Texas Instruments, well let's say the possibilities are endless when it comes to teaching and learning math and science with the iPad.

As a final note I have been provided many technologies throughout my career, many of those provided to me free of cost or purchased from fundraising. And normally I never pay for apps. however, I bought the TI-Nspire app for its full price of $29.99. And it was worth every penny!

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