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Quick looks at Geospike and Unidoodle

December 5, 2016

spikedoodle
First, many thanks to Dr. Frances Boylan and the other folks who are producing The 12 Apps of Christmas! A great deal of work has gone into assembling these resources and coordinating the course.

Today we are taking a look at the first two apps. You’ll need to sign up if you want to see the case studies on the 12 Apps website today. At some point after the twelve days are over, all materials will be made public.

Day 1 — Geospike

Geospike is a social travel journal that uses a device’s GPS and camera to create “spikes” that record where you are and what you see. The spikes can be grouped into “trips” and shared with others. The educational application described in “The 12 Apps of Christmas” centers on scientific field work, but commenters in the course suggested many other ways an app like this could be used. I love the idea and the case study is fascinating (note that it took place in 2012). One way I could see this type of app being used is in a study abroad experience.

geospike

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend Geospike. The server was unhappy, making it impossible to log in for hours; when I finally connected there was a warning about password security. Geospike gets mediocre reviews on Google Play and there’s little response on the Apple Store. The kicker is that the app has been on autopilot for two and a half years. During that time there were no software updates, nor any activity on Geospike’s blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. The product is not supported in any visible way other than keeping the servers running.

There have to be good geoblogging apps that are up-to-date and supported. Any ideas?

Day 2 – Unidoodle

Continuing the active learning theme, Unidoodle lets students draw responses to in-class questions or problems. The sample activity for the 12 Apps course, a word search, was difficult to draw on my iPhone. It would be much easier on a tablet – and the writeup warns about this. The developers wisely recommend that an instructor should test out the app carefully, and practice before using it in the classroom. The video below nicely illustrates the three generic steps of Unidoodling in the classroom: the instructor creates an activity and opens a session, students respond by drawing, and the instructor closes the session and provides feedback.

I can think of all kinds of ways this app could be used! I built an activity I could use in my multimedia class, where students would draw a “rule of thirds” grid over a photograph. I had to use a separate website to upload the photo as a new question “template” (this should really be part of the instructor app). All in all, the software is user-friendly; it was very easy to start and stop the session and then give feedback.

unidoodleinstructor

The developers have deliberately not included any help, assuming that most people are happy to figure out apps on their own. I think that’s a mistake; if they want to reach a broad market, they should provide instructions and help. The video is a good start.

Only the student app is publicly available at this time. If you want to try out your own activities, you’ll need to contact the developer for access to Unidoodle Teach. The developers are in the process of commercializing the app, and it should be ready for prime time early in 2017.

At least one other response app – Formative – provides drawing options. I’d be interested hear from someone who has tried both and could compare them.

Unidoodle is at the opposite end of the development time line from Geospike – just getting started as opposed to fading out. It was also developed by an academic at Maynooth University in Ireland, rather than a startup company. I’m a little disappointed that currently neither of them is fully supported, but I’m looking forward to the remaining ten Apps of Christmas.

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