Sunday, October 23, 2011

App Finding Tip

Sometimes, I hate the process of searching for apps -- especially if I just want to browse and I don't have a specific app in mind. I have yet to figure out how the App Store determines what has the most "relevance" to my searches because often times it feels wildly off. In addition, it can be time consuming, and I don't feel like I'm as efficient with it as I could be.

This week, I found a work around. Go to Google and begin your search with the query "" and then the key words you want to find in the app store. Here's a very broad search as an example:

This search seemed to return far more relevant results for me. Like the App Store, I was able to see prices and ratings on one screen. Maybe it's because I have more experience searching with Google, but I also felt like the browsing process was much more efficient. Although this search returned 305,000 results, I noticed that there started to be a lot of duplicates on the fourth or fifth page. I also noticed that a lot of the obscure and seemingly irrelevant hits that I would get with a similar search through the App Store were weeded out, or at least moved to much later in the results. Overall, this seemed like a much better route for casual browsing than working through the app store. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Free App - The Patriots US

I recently saw this game, The Patriots US, on AppShopper. It is free for a limited time. Here is the official description of it:
The British are coming… Again! It’s been twelve years since the war of 1812 and the British have reassembled and are seeking revenge for their ancestor’s losses. Take control of the cannon and defend the Capitol against the relentless Redcoats. The British have assembled an elite task force consisting of Redcoats, the Scottish Guard and the Green Dragoons. Green Dragoons are known for their savagery and disdain for the American colonies and will stop at nothing to help the Redcoats take control of the Capitol. Defend the Capitol with a barrage of weapons. Advance to the next level and use your war funds to purchase upgrades that can help you defend your country. The fate of America’s freedom rests in your hands. See if you have what it takes to fight off the Redcoats and send them back to their country empty handed… Again!
I really debated whether I should download it for my fourth grade iPad Social Studies pilot. On the surface, it looks like a typical strategy game, and I wasn't sure what educational value it might have. But then I started thinking...
What if students were assigned the task of evaluating the historical accuracy and integrity of this game? It could open up an inquiry into:
  • US-British relations in the era following the American Revolution and the War of 1812.
  • Battle strategies and alliances
  • Living conditions in early America
  • The economics of military spending and costs of war
Students could also recommend changes to the game to make it more historically accurate, if necessary.
There seems to be a shortage of historically-based social studies apps out there, but I think we could still use several of them if we think creatively about their purposes and the lessons we hope to craft surrounding them.

What, no posts?

My involvement with Eberopolis has been slow as of late. As I mentioned previously, 2011 was bringing big changes to my life through the addition of one amazing little being. Meet Sydney:

Sydney was born on August 26, and my husband and I were blessed that she came into the world both healthy and happy. I've also been blessed by the fact that I've been able to take a substantial maternity leave to be with her. I'll be out of the classroom through Thanksgiving.

While I've had ample time to do some reading and browsing and to play with some iPad apps so far, I haven't had much of an opportunity to share my findings. You see, ever since she was born, Sydney has refused to sleep for more than 10 minutes in any space farther than 3 inches away from me. And while she still has that preference, she has at least decided this week that she can tolerate snuggling against me while confined in a Moby Wrap. So rather than having one hand typing while the other holds the baby, I can now snuggle her for hours hands free.

I can't begin to describe how much that improves my quality of life. Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, I haven't been doing as much with the 2000 hours project these last couple of months even though I've been working on school-related things in fits and spurts. I'm back to logging that more often now, though. I've amassed over 360 hours so far, and I expect that number to shoot up considerably now that Sydney has a more predictable nap schedule that I can work through. I attended the DEN Virtual Conference today, and that alone has generated a slew of ideas that I look forward to sharing.

More to come!
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