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Learning in the Cloud

Whether you call it a PLN or a PLC or a time waste the iPad has gotten me back into Twitter. My primary use for Twitter is to learn from other people. I only follow people who can teach me stuff. Mainly other educators. Anyway, I've since started getting all my news and such on the iPad and almost never even check Google Reader on my laptop anymore.

FlipBoard and Twitter
These are the apps I use for accessing my Twitter feed. With the recent update to FlipBoard I find myself going to the official Twitter app less and less though. Check out the video for my full review of FlpBoard. The only bits to add relate to the updates. You can now tweet out from FlipBoard stuff other than responses or retweets.
Additionally they've added Google Reader support and expanded on the usability of Facebook. If you have lists in Facebook, which I do, you can pull these out as Sections in the Contents. This makes it really easy for me to follow the people I want when i want to. For example, I have created lists for my family, real friends, as well as other teachers. Most of my Facebook friends are former students and for the most part I don't really need to know what they all are doing all the time. 

Both FlipBoard and the official Twitter app are free. 

Google Reader and RSS
I'm still amazed at the number of people who don't know what RSS is. Basically it's a behind the scenes way many web pages publish content. Services like Google Reader can be used to "Subscribe" to these pages. So, clear as mud, right? What does this mean for me? 

There are a number of websites I used to check every day to see if they'd released any new content. I wanted to read the news as soon as it was published rather than when i happened to remember to check for it. Well, enter Google Reader. Google Reader will check for me and pull in all the new content. Now when I go to Google Reader I'm basically checking 80 or so websites at the same time and only show those that have new content. Some of these will have multiple updates every day and some will only update once or twice a month. This is a real time saver and makes it possible to keep up on the latest developments in educational technology.

On my iPad I use two different programs, Pulse and MobileRSSfree. MobileRSS is just a clone of my Google Reader account. When I open it it retrieves all the new content and saves it. If I open it someplace where I don't have wifi the cached content is still there to be read. I'm in this app probably more than I'm in FlipBoard. Pulse is a much more attractive RSS aggregator. It will also sync with my Google Reader account, but isn't as nice for quickly working through my subscriptions. However, it is laid out much better. I primarily use it for sites that I like to check when I have time to kill, but not ones where I feel like I have to read every article.

Online Media
There are some really good apps for consuming media online. Yes, I know you can get most or all of it via a web browser and a laptop. However, truth to be told, I've consumed more of it since I got my iPad. It is just so much more enjoyable with the iPad. Additionally I can easily carry it with me as it plays. While cooking or cleaning I can set my iPad up and wither watch or listin to something. As I move to another room I just carry it with me still playing. That's not something I typically do with my laptop.

So, what am I watching?
  • TED - There's a great app for the TED talks. A recent update makes it possible to search for specific talks. Most of the videos are very inspiring.
  • PBS - Watch full episodes of some great PBS content, including full episodes of Nova!
  • NPR - Stream you local, or really any, NPR station to you iPad.
  • TWIT - This is the app for the This Week in Tech network. You can watch full video or just listing to the audio. Programs can be cached for offline viewing. This is a great place to learn about the latest developments in technology and the web.
  • ABC - I use this mostly for entertainment, however they also include some of their News specials ans well as 20/20