Today IBM released Minds of Modern Mathematics, a free multimedia iPad application based on a 50-foot infographic exhibited at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. It's one of a variety of iPad apps combining education and fun that point to the future of multimedia education.
The 50-foot infographic, which was displayed at IBM's pavilion at the World’s Fair, comprised a timeline from 1000 AD to 1960 showing text and images about mathematicians and how mathematics has influenced art, science, architecture, and music. The timeline -- created by the design team of Charles and Ray Eames, who designed the iconic Eames chair and ottoman -- and much more is shown in the iPad app.
There are several ways to navigate the timeline. The millennium view shows tiny thumbnails of the entire timeline on a single screen, and the century view shows larger images.
Tap a person's name, such as Johannes Kepler, and up pops a full screen containing a drawing of Kepler's face and other related images, such as a page from a book by Kepler. The screen also includes a brief biography and links to additional information from Wikipedia and the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
If you tap a less exalted person or image, up pops a brief description, such as the one for Robert Boyle, author of The Sceptical Chymist, which promoted the idea of chemical elements and helped doom alchemy. If you hold the iPad in portrait mode, you may flip through each item, one by one.
Minds of Modern Mathematics contains more than 500 biographies, images, and other informational tidbits. A section includes nine brief video animations produced in the 1960s and 1970s about such topics as the power of numbers, topology, and symmetry.
You certainly don't have to be an expert in math or science to appreciate the app, though some of the names (Fermat, Bernoulli, Fourier, Von Neumann) will be familiar to people who know some science. For anyone interested in mathematics and its relationship to other disciplines, the app is fun to browse.
Fun and education also are the hallmarks of one of the most beautiful science apps, released just a few days ago for the iPad 2 and the new iPad: Brian Cox's Wonders of the Universe.
Developed by the British particle physicist Brian Cox in conjunction with the BBC, this app explores the universe from the tiniest particles to cosmological structures. It contains more than 200 articles, numerous 3D graphics, and two and a half hours of videos for the introductory price of $6.99.
Another great science app, which is free and was released just a few days ago, is Nova Elements, which features the technology reporter David Pogue. The PBS app includes an interactive periodic table of elements, a game to build common objects from their atoms and molecules, and almost two hours of Pogue's "Hunting the Elements" special for Nova.
All these apps highlight what might be the second in several phases of electronic learning. Phase 1 began with Amazon's Kindle, the first e-book reader to capture the hearts and minds (and money) of consumers. The Kindle ushered in the age of commercially successful black-and-white (well, more like dark gray on light gray) digital reading.
Phase 2 began with the iPad, which ushered in the age of multimedia reading and learning. With the new iPad's high-resolution screen, educational applications containing text and videos look better than they do on a standard computer monitor or even a plasma television. That helps encourage people to learn.
Future phases might feature tablets with screens that are as easy on the eyes as E Ink but display videos beautifully -- or wireless communications between cellular phones and augmented reality displays.
Regardless of these phases, the three iPad applications are among those paving the way to superior and more enjoyable ways of learning than static text on paper.
I remember my high school teaching days back in the 60's when "programmed learning" was coming into view. No computers back then, but the idea was to write textbooks so that answering questions led the student from one area to another at the student's pace.
By clever writing, a book could instruct a student at his current level and almost become a self-teaching method, relying on student interaction and not so much teacher lectures.
The computer of course now can take over where the textbooks left off. It's only a matter of getting standards and money to place "learning machines" on every device. And then, the hardest task, motivating students to take advantage of the technology.
@jabailo I wouldn't say it was all downhill form 1964, though that was quite a bit beore my time. You can get a sense of some of the glory of the World's Fair at the Queens Museum of Art. It is in The New York City Building that was built to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair. The highlight of the museum comes from second World's Fair in Queens: the Panorama of the City of New York,was built by Robert Moses for the 1964 World' Fair. It was updated in 1992. So you still see the Twin Towers standing there.
BTW If you are interested in the first New York World's Fair, you can see a video on it from the New York Public Library It reveals, among other interesting points, that Germany was invited to participate (remember this was 1939-40) but declined to come.
@mhhfive, I hadn't thought about that. The tablet, of course, allows for a different kind of interaction between the person and the device than a computer does. And these apps allow for an innovative way of learning. But that's a good point -- and a legitimate worry -- about apps in general.
@Brian: Very rightly said, with the rate of change in the hardware vendors will have to keep up in ensuring backward compatibility. It seems like a difficult task for apps since different platforms have different specifications like resolutions etc. Nevertheles, app designers as well as hardware vendors will have to step up their game to ensure that the consumers get the best.
This a is great post (as always), and just yesterday I was reading about some confluences of computers and the Fair. Initially, the book I was reading yesterday was about a New York construction engineer who ended up building the majority of the Pavillion but it lead me to explore more about the building on the Web.
It's funny, but I loved going to the World's Fair when I was a kid, and then later on, when I rode by bicycle through Flushing Meadows park, past the Unisphere, the Pool of Industry, the great statues tucked in little alcoves of hedges, and of course, the United States Pavillion.
Of course, by the time I was taking long bike trips up there with my friends, about age 10 or 11, the Pavillion had fallen into disrepair. The concrete steps in the central atrium were filled with debris and graffiti. We had to cut through the fence (designed to keep boys like us from prowling around...no doubt). The beautiful multicolored fiber glass panels were broken and many had fallen to the floor all around us.
When I went to read more about the US Pavillion, I found that they had an exhibit whic was....well, maybe the first public Google system and WikiPedia! The exhibit was sponsored by the Library Association and was based on a "real time" Univac 490 with some terminals called Unisets.
From the flyer:
THE UNISET IS THE INPUT DEVICE USED BY THE LIBRARIAN TO ENTER YOUR REQUEST INTO THE SYSTEM. THERE IS A UNISET STATIONED AT EACH OF THE SIX LIBRARY/U.S.A. REFERENCE DESKS AND EACH TRANSMITS THE REQUEST TO THE COMPUTER OVER A CABLE LINE.
WHEN THE COMPUTER RECEIVES THE INPUT REQUEST, IT COMPOSES A RESPONSE AUTOMATICALLY BY EXTRACTING SELECTIONS OF DATA FROM THE FASTRAND DRUM AND COMMUNICATES IT TO THE HIGH SPEED PRINTER LOCATED BEHIND THE LIBRARIAN. BY THESE MEANS MORE THAN 1,200 WORDS CAN BE PRINTED IN LESS THAN FOUR SECONDS AFTER THE LIBRARIAN INITIATES THE REQUEST ON THE UNISET.
And what could you inquire about?
ESSAYS. ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA EDITORS WROTE ORIGINAL ESSAYS FOR ADULTS AND FOR CHILDREN. THE ADULT ESSAYS WERE THEN TRANSLATED INTO GERMAN, FRENCH AND SPANISH
READING LISTS. TO SUPPLEMENT THE ESSAYS, TWENTY DIFFERENT LIBRARIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY PREPARED LISTS OF BOOKS AT FIVE LEVELS. TITLES OF BOOKS WERE CAREFULLY SELECTED AND ARE PROBABLY AVAILABLE IN YOUR HOME TOWN LIBRARY.
MAGAZINE ARTICLES. THROUGH THE COURTESY OF THE H.W. WILSON COMPANY, A CURRENT INDEX TO SELECTED ARTICLES FROM 18 POPULAR MAGAZINES IS STORED IN THE COMPUTER. NEW ARTICLES ARE ENTERED INTO THE MACHINE REGULARLY SO THAT THE COMPUTER'S MEMORY ALWAYS HAS THE MOST UP TO DATE LISTINGS OF ARTICLES RELATED TO THE VARIOUS U.S. PAVILION EXHIBITS. THROUGH THE UNISET, THE LIBRARIAN MAY REQUEST LISTS OF ARTICLES IN COMBINATION TO SUIT YOUR INTERESTS.
Wow! So there you have it. The year is 1964. And if you went to the US Pavillion, you might have gotten to use...the Internet!
I think we all have files that were saved but now can't be opened in today's technology.
I had saved some Flash emails we sent customers circa 1999 and they were wiped with a new version of Microsoft Outlook. Luckily, I had them saved in more than one place and was able to extract them on another computer that still had Office 1997.
Along those lines, I have videos that play in iTunes and on previous versions of iPods, iPhones, and iPads, but don't play on the new iPad because of the screen resolution. Hopefully, that's a codec fix Apple will make, but it's rapid change when something that played on the iPad that came out (just) two years ago this weekend won't play on the latest device,
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