Paddock – Adventures at Fry’s Electronics

Over break, I made a trip to Fry’s Electronics. It started out as an innocent trip to help my mother find rewriteable discs for her job. It turned into something else entirely.

After being mildly verbally attacked by a salesman after I told him I strongly dislike Windows 8, I told him I didn’t, in fact, need any help with the monitor I was getting my fingerprints on, and walked away, nearly crashing into a stack of boxes containing something called “SMK Paddock 10 V2.” The picture on the box was of a desktop stand for an iPad.

“Eureka!” I actually said out loud, and took a box out of the strategically stacked pyramid of rhomboidal boxes. Just like in a bad sitcom, the entire forward half of the stack came sliding apart, distributing oddly shaped boxes left and right in front of me. Avoiding the disapproving look of the salesman who loves Windows 8, I went to find a different salesman to show him what I did. And to as if he could open one of the boxes for me. The young man obliged, and didn’t even chastise me for my mishap.

This is what was inside:


Paddock_BackAs you can see, a person could put their iPad in there, and there are adapters and plug-ins involved for various activities one might want to do with an iPad. For example, if I were collecting video interviews for a project like Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives, I could put my iPad into this device, and it works just like a tripod, except on a desktop. Additionally, the head swivels, and the whole iPad rests on a speaker, which also acts like a charger, or so the specs say on Amazon.

I’m not sure exactly how this contributes to my working definition of ‘innovation,’ but if I go with the idea that we are trying to collect narratives in a new way, then this qualifies.

And I accept.


National Day on Writing Success!

In case you didn’t hear, this past Tuesday was the National Day on Writing. And thanks to a bunch of people in the English Department, the Linguistics department, and some other organizations (I think there was a sorority involved somewhere), it went off really well.

I’ve talked before about the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives, and the project I’ve been working on to find an easy, low amount of hardware way to record using iPad. I blogged a little about it a few weeks ago, and it turns out that the simplest result was the best result.

Here is a picture of the ultimate set up we decided to go with:


As you can see, it is very minimal in its hardware involvement.

We ended up investing in the adapter I mentioned in an earlier entry, which I linked above. The adapter is called the iPad Camera Connector and runs about $30. The snowball you can see in the picture plugs right into the adapter and then it just works. It took me a while to figure out that it needs no other software or authorization on the part of the iPad user – it simply plugs in and works with all the already installed iPad software.

We were at our National Day on Writing table from 10AM until just before 2PM and managed to collect 20 narratives ranging from ‘the first books I read’ to ‘When I learned to read music’ – each one was interesting and wonderful.

Here is a picture of Michael Harker explaining the paperwork to a student who gave a narrative:

DALN_1In all, the day was a big success – we even found we could upload the videos into the DALN system right from the iPad.

I’m pretty happy with how this project is turning out. I learned a lot about iPad interface and hardware (adapters) and a lot about the first things to try. Ooh – and that simplicity is pretty much the best thing ever.

So – in the interest of being as hip as my fellow SIF bloggers, I leave you with a bit of inspiration – not a music video – but  drawing I did on a tablecloth and a restaurant. Enjoy:



iPad Research = iPad Play

Over the last few weeks, I have been playing with the iPad 2 for my Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives project I’m involved with through the English department. The goal is to find an innovative way to record video using the iPad. My focus has mostly been on sound, as I attempt to get to know the iPad and its foreign (to me) software.

Last week, I played with a microphone called a snowball, which looks like this:


taken from

The snowball is a pretty high quality microphone, which I have used to record videos in a booth for the American Literature Videos Project. The Snowball plugs right into a computer through a USB port, which is super cool because it doesn’t even need a separate power source. The unfortunate part is that the iPad does not have a USB port. So I need this adapter:

I want this adapter so bad.

taken from

And we don’t have any at the Exchange. And the Digital Aquarium doesn’t have any either. And no one I know with an iPad has one, with the exception of a friend I have who works a LOT with macs – in Flagstaff, Arizona.

And so I went back to the drawing board and decided to start from the beginning. I realized I really don’t know what a direct video using only the iPad sounds/looks like. I also discovered, during this journey, that the iPad has an app that allows the user to upload right to youtube, and even to edit right in the application.

Tuesday, I went to the Atlanta Collaborative Learning community Digital Pedagogy meetup, and I recorded some interviews with the presenters: one of those is Brennan Collins – so for your viewing pleasure, I give you the video I recorded with what I am referring to as “the naked iPad” (no external hardware helping out) – and with the youtube editing software/uploader:

DALN 2 – Researching to Innovate

As part of the project I’m working on for the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives, I have been researching free apps for the iPad 2 that might help innovate the current recording process of the DALN.

Let me explain in more detail:

Representatives from the DALN go to conferences, usually rhetoric and composition, or other English studies related conferences, and collect live literacy narratives. I have volunteered for DALN more than once, and usually have a fun time doing it. the task involves roping people in to come and sit in front of a computer (always a mac) and record a short narrative about literacy. It can be anything – reading, writing, digital – whatever. They talk into the recording device, which takes video and audio, and then when they are finished, we save and upload the recordings, along with a release form participants fill out.

As part of the project, I am looking at streamlining this project – innovating it, if you will. So instead of using MacBooks, I am looking at using iPads. So far, I’m sort of stumbling around in the dark, but I have found one fun, if not confusing tool:

Stage: An Interactive Whiteboard and Document Camera – And while this program will not likely work for innovating the DALN recording process, it may be useful for something similar.

The biggest difficulty I find myself having at the moment is the “free apps” part of the task. On iPad, movie maker is $4.99. This is problematic, and may lead to some interesting access-oriented innovations.

In the meantime, if anyone finds some use for this whiteboard app, please share.

Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)

One of the projects I am assigned to is to help Dr. Michael Harker work on the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN). The DALN, as we refer to it, is a collection of narratives from all over the world about literacy. This could mean anything from reading, to writing, and even to digital literacy.

I have helped with the DALN in the past, (wo)manning tables at conferences, enticing potential storytellers to our table to get them to speak their narratives into a computer. We then store all these narratives at the link above. Anyone can look into the archive. Anyone can use the archive to do any kind of research they may have relating to literacy, or even beyond.

This week, I’ve been spending hours uploading narratives to the archive that were sent to us on a drive all the way from Singapore. Many of these are about learning English, but some are about speaking Mandarin, Idioms, and several are about computing.

I am the only person on this project. Once I upload the rest of the files from Singapore, I’ll be playing with an IPad 2, trying to figure out a better way to collect narratives at later conferences. Hopefully I’ll have plenty to say about that project in later posts. 🙂