Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Creating the iBar- a Library iPad Kiosk

Exciting news this term! Our Library has been given funding to create an iPad kiosk - our iBar - we are in the process of creating a dynamic, useful, creative environment with these devices. The Apple Store inspired space will consist of 4 iPad Airs attached to a bar height shelf unit situated around a pillar. In keeping with our colourful library we’ve chosen lime green and red for the bar and stools. Above the bar, we will attach 4 notice boards to the pillar which will have a multitude of uses.

With the devices ordered, the next issue was how to secure the ipads – fix them to the desk and charge them up. There are a number of solutions and a range of prices. The table tablet mounts are available online. iLocks has a good range.

Red Tolix replica bar stools have been ordered and our school maintenance man is working on a design for the bar height shelf unit that has plenty of room for the devices, and a bit of depth in order for students to write something down if required.

Design sorted, it was time for the fun part – what Apps and books would I include at the Kiosk? We already have class sets of iPads and we also have a BYOD program and many students bring their own iPads to school – so the iBar is set to have a different focus – with a couple of different purposes.

Some time ago, we dismantled our reference collection and inter-mingled the dictionaries, large format books, atlases and so on into the general collection. The iPads will replace this collection with Apps such as The Barefoot Atlas , encyclopaedias, translation dictionaries and so on. The beauty of having these available at the kiosk is that the iPads will start up quickly – no logging onto a computer , the information is up to date (unlike print editions), information can be transferred by logging onto cloud storage such through Edmodo or Evernote.

The next type of App that will be found at the iBar  will be information apps of distinction. These are generally apps that are expensive to purchase in bulk. Titles such as Virtual History Roma and the The Elements and Building Titanic (National Geographic - free!) are three such apps to be included.

The iBar will also feature a collection of iBooks. Some of these will be free iBooks (search around there are lots that are fabulous examples of creative iBook building). Disney have put out several that are movie tie ins. Maleficent and Frankenweenie have movie trailers, interviews with producers and directors, information about the characters, settings, history of the stories in sumptuous productions. Other free iBooks we’ll be starting with include: Inside the world of indigenous culture, created by Siena Catholic College Qld, and Gallipoli (created by Australian Government Department of Veterans Affairs) are a couple of good examples. Do a Free iBooks search in the iBooks store. Some titles such as Dinosaur Zoo ($2.49) by Dotnamestudios are worth the payment.  Look for iBooks that fully utilise all the multimedia aspects such as galleries, video, interactive quizzes and pop-ups, some educational iBooks also include a facility to take notes, highlight and so on. In the future we will be getting into iBook creation ourselves – both by teachers and students. Free iBooks that will be great to include also will be ‘how to’ manuals on using apps, including one on iBooks author itself. (see iBooks Author the definitive guide)

I’ll be looking at including a number of titles in an e-magazine collection including tech titles, sport and teen interest and we'll consider moving some of our print subscriptions to electronic versions. This will be a work in progress and require user feedback to get it right. Creating our own e-zines is something that we are keen to do here as well. There’s good advice for e-zine publishers here

Perhaps the most exciting set of apps we will be including at our iBar will be a selection of puzzle and games apps. Criteria for inclusion are that they must be interesting, creative, challenging and beautifully designed. We’ve chosen a number already. To get started check out the award wining, The Room and The Room 2, Year Walk, Tengami,  Botanicula  and then explore the makers of these games and see what’s new from them.

Notice boards above the iBar will allow students to share their thoughts about the games/puzzles, ask for help to complete the challenges, put up questions, clues etc. We hope this will be a collaborative activity that will challenge and inspire students in their writing, designing and creating of games and stories. Here we'll be able to publicise new apps and ibook and e-zine additions to the set.

That’s a huge start –we may find more uses for the iPads at the iBar, more ways we can have our students interact with the technology but until then this is more than enough to be working on.

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