6.1 tool survey — Bob

So, I didn’t read the assignment closely enough to understand the difference between the two tool assignments — my bad.  Hence, this is some makeup work.

I found, JoyTunes, and more specifically their apps, PianoMeastro and Piano Dust Buster.  Since I have slightly more musical aptitude than a sack of potatoes but, a great fondness for music these apps intrigued me.  I watched a couple of their promotional videos and particularly resonated with the “gamification” of music practice.  The adults mentioned the shortened attention span of young people these days.  Yet the kids recounted practicing for perfections as a result of using the apps.  Apparently,  PianoMeastro can be used rather like an LMS where the teacher can add assignments for particular students and push these out between classes.  I suspect that additional research might show me a number of companies and a number of instruments in this market niche — none-the-less thought this was really cool.  Easy to see applications in home or enrichment schooling on a families tablet or, in school, or the traditional instrument instruction — many of the adults in these promotional videos were introduced as “piano teacher” for example.  I’ll have to look around for an app that teaches blues guitar — maybe Jack White has been recruited for the voice acting .

On far other end of the spectrum is zSpace.  Here we are talking high powered software, and big school districts, big money.  This is an immersive 3D simulation using “pens” and glasses.  All the teachers and students are smiling and fascinated by what they are interacting with.   One video describes “heart dissection”.  I suspect it doesn’t come with senso-rama so no stink of formalin, nor any real body fluids, ohh, like blood.  There was no cutting of the sternum and spreading of the rib cage….  Maybe they save that for the version for medical schools.  The expense, and the hyper-real sanitary and unreality of it are really off putting for me.  The heart I saw in the video looked like a drawing — I didn’t see any real plaque in the veins or fatty buildups.  It is cool and sexy technology and probably a very interesting use and application.  But it troubled me too.

After a lot of poking around I was able to find  Tynker.

The website offers modules for home, for school and for partners (enrichment programs). The point is that coding is a literacy that we all, but particularly our children need to learn.  The coding here is embedded in interfaces that are a lot more pleasing and interactive then the lines of basic we had to write in the bad old days.  The product seems to be aimed at kids elementary and middle school age.   Each module builds on the previous, and there are several different  modules, each costing $50.  It appears that they are moving into coding for mobile devices too.   I suspect that the company is building a community as well though exactly how that works is a little unclear to me.  The have a page called the “hour of code” which they are participating in and supporting it seems to be an intentional effort — kinda cool.

10 thoughts on “6.1 tool survey — Bob

  1. lsowa

    Bob – Tynker looks similar to code.org – perhaps it is even a new version of that website. I’ve used the hour of code with my 6-year old, as a classroom activity for a visit to an alternative high school, and with my freshman engineering students on their first day of programming class. I think it’s great, and students seem to like it as well. Coding is such an important skill today – and it’s not rocket science, but most degrees other than engineering and computer science don’t require it, and many high schools aren’t teaching it. I often wonder if students who have good math skills naturally do well with programming, or if learning to program at a younger age can actually help with developing the logic needed for mathematics.

    If you find that Jack White app – let me know 🙂

  2. Owen

    I second Lori’s request to be clued in if you find the Jack White app. And, I’m even less musical than you – I guarantee. Neat tools you’ve explored. Thanks!

    ZSpace is particularly nifty. I don’t imagine it will be long before these kinds of immersive tools have broad application in many fields, from Chemistry to Social Sciences to Biology.


  3. Alda

    I agree with you all that coding is an important skill. I need to make more time for it. Thank you for making me aware of Tynker. I also ran into a tool that is meant to teach related concepts to children and adults. It’s offline however- a game about programming called Robot Turtles. I bought a copy during the game’s KickStarter and can’t wait to try it. Here is a link for more info: https://www.robotturtles.com/

  4. Pingback: 6.1 tool survey – Bob, Online Pedagogy, ED 655 – Scholarship

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