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CDETB Curriculum Development Unit | Apps of the week
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Friday, 13th September 2019

 

Civilisations – discovery history

The BBC are running a fascinating programme on human civilisation – and this is the app accompanying it. From their website: “Civilisations is an epic new series spanning 31 countries on six continents, and covering more than 500 works of art. Presenters SIMON SCHAMA, MARY BEARD and DAVID OLUSOGA will explore humanity’s desire to create. Alongside, the Civilisations Festival will bring museums’ treasures to life through innovative digital products and events.”

Agree to their terms first. You can decide whether or not to give them access to your camera – you should, because this app uses AR technology. And this is the exciting innovation which makes it so interactive. A tutorial helps you set up your device. You can listen to and/or read the instructions, which makes it accessible to a variety of learners. The introduction is really very well designed and easy to follow. Simply point your camera to a steady background (such as the floor) and the first artefact will appear in 3D on it. As by magic, I suddenly had the sarcophagus with a mummy inside in the library. And I took a picture of itJ. You can move, scale and rotate the item with your fingertips to explore it further.

The ‘book’ icon contains a short written explanation and further references.  There are more hidden special features and audio guides which the ‘spotlight’ helps you to discover. The ‘globe’ symbol brings you back to the main menu where you can select further topics, such as early civilisations, human body, faith, encounters, progress and modernity. A virtual globe shows you where each item was found. You can reset the app by selecting this option in settings.

Could be used for: Both History and Art classes.

What I liked about it: Very well designed and beautifully presented. It is a fantastic addition to the popular TV series.

Look out for: Some users might get dizzy when using AR technology.

Available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

More information here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/GThNCvQtxsgJfJrxCxFJb2/civilisations-masterworks-of-beauty-and-ingenuity

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Friday, 6th September 2019

 

SketchAR – drawing tool using AR technology

SketchAR helps you learn how to draw. No matter how talented or ungifted you think you are, this tool really gives you results.

The app asks you first whether you are left- or right-handed. The main menu is at the bottom of your screen. The category ‘school’ allows you to browse lessons and start on step-by-step drawings. ‘Courses’ start at beginner’s level, so should be doable for most people. Only the beginner course is free, though – more advanced ones require payment. ‘Lessons’ offers more templates.

Follow the instructions and start drawing using simple shapes. Choose between different types of pencils and markers – change the colour if you want. You can now use them by using your finger as a drawing aid. You can view a time lapse video of how you created the image and even share this via social media and email. This could be great fun for students. Your drawing can be further manipulated by clicking on the icons on the right hand side. The ‘library’ has many more patterns ranging from figures, flowers and animals to more complex sketches. If you allow the app access to your photos and camera, you can use your own pictures as inspirations.

Drawing with AR, however, makes it even more fun. A virtual assistant is very keen on helping – a short tutorial is hidden under ‘draw with AR’. Point your device to the floor, the wall or to a piece of paper (depending on what you’ve chosen in the sub menu) and see what your oeuvre looks like in a virtual reality environment. It takes a bit of time until you are able to hold your device and draw virtually at the same time. You are basically copying what you see on your screen.

Could be used for: creative students and teachers alike. It could also be very helpful if you want to create art on your classroom wall.

What I liked about it: really helpful for getting to grips with drawing using only your fingertips.

Look out for: paid services.

Available from the Apple App Store, on Google Play and from Microsoft.

More information here: https://www.sketchar.tech/

There are also video tutorials available in ‘settings’ as well as a chat function.

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