Enhancing Teaching & Learning with Mobile Technology

The Academic Technology Leadership Committee sponsored their second annual Teaching and Learning Forum at the Cardinal Foley Campus Center on June 7th. The theme for this year’s Forum was “Building Learning Communities” and the faculty-led program committee prepared a full-day agenda of presentations and discussions. New for this year’s forum were poster sessions and discussions from several of our technology vendors such as Apple and Extron.

TPACK Diagram

Reproduced by permission of the publisher.
© 2012 tpack.org

Dr. Megan Raymond, a Development Executive with Apple, Inc. led one of the afternoon break-out sessions. Dr. Raymond discussed how mobile technologies such as Apple’s iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone mark a fundamental shift in the traditional classroom. She emphasized TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge), which is a framework to understand and describe the kinds of knowledge needed by an educator for effective pedagogical practice in a technology-enhanced learning environment. This framework is illustrated by a Venn diagram with three foci: Pedagogy, Content and 21st Century Technology. The convergence of these spheres, representing a masterful 21st century classroom focused on essential learning with the application of sound learning theory and efficient technological support, is the target of Apple’s mobile solutions for education.

Dr. Raymond highlighted a suite of apps that, while intended for the Apple iPad and iPhone demographic, are also indicative of the functional role of a tablet computing device in a modern teaching and learning ecosystem:

FaceTime — an Apple-developed video telephony application for supported mobile devices running iOS, as well as current Mac OS computers.

Evernote — a free productivity and information organization app that supports notes, photo capture, to-do lists, and voice reminders, across all of your devices.

Penultimate — supports natural, hand-written note-taking and sketching with integration with Evernote.

Explain Everything — a very flexible annotation and presentation tool that allows manipulation of a variety of presentation and document file formats.

GoodReader – a robust PDF reader with enhanced annotation and file format support.

Dragon Dictation — a voice recognition application supporting voice-to-text transcription in email, messaging and document creation applications and integration with popular social networking services.

ITunes U — a free service hosted by Apple for the distribution of audio and video podcasts and other course materials by educational institutions.

2nd Annual Teaching and Learning Forum


Dear Colleagues,

You are invited to attend the second annual Teaching and Learning Forum which will be held on Friday, June 7 from 9:00am – 5:30pm in the Cardinal Foley Campus Center. Last year, more than 120 faculty, administrators and guests attended the Forum and 85% of the attendees rated the Forum as Excellent or Good. We expect this year’s Forum to be equally valuable. The theme for this year’s Forum is “Building Learning Communities” and the faculty-led program committee has developed an agenda to promote discussion and engagement among our faculty. Given your expertise as teachers and educators, your involvement is vital to the success of the forum. I hope you’re able to attend and fully engage in the conversation. To register for the event, please visit the forum registration site.

The agenda on the 7th is:

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome by the President & Provost
9:15 – 9:45 Video: Seniors Reflect on their Learning Experiences at SJU
9:45 – 10:45 Faculty Panel:  Discussion & Reflection on the Student VideoPanel:  Jim Caccamo, Janine Firmender, Ginny Miori, Tim Swift
10:45-11:00 Break
11:00 – 12:00 Faculty Led Breakout Sessions — Focus on Course Design and PedagogyLeaders: Jim Caccamo, Janine Firmender, Ginny Miori, Tim Swift
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 Faculty Poster SessionsTanya Brezovski: Teaching with a Smart BoardKristin Burr: Working with Video in Class

Kevin Clapano: Online Course Development

Jonathan Fingerut: iPad Author

Allen Kerkeslager: Google Earth

Christine Schwartz: Use of Blogs to Promote In-Class Discussion

Elaine Shenk: Learning Through Interaction: On- and Offline

Sam Slike, JoAnn Thierfelder:  Using Collaborate for Online Collaboration

Ken Weidner: Integrating Film, Comedy and Social Justice in First Year Seminar

2:00 – 3:00 Vendor PresentationsIncludes presentations by Apple, Extron, TideBreak and others
3:00 – 3:15 Break
3:15 – 4:30 Closing Session: Addressing the Needs of Future Students
4:30 – 5:30 Reception

It is only in partnership with our faculty that the University can advance this discussion and continue to refine our academic plans for the future so I hope you’ll plan to join us on June 7.

Brice Wachterhauser

Permission to post was granted by the Office of Academic Affairs 05/24/13.

Creating and Learning with Video

Did you know…

  • Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 53 countries and across 61 languages
  • In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth (YouTube Statistics, 2013)

How can we leverage this societal fondness for video within our educational institutions?

Shay David, the co-founder of the open-source video and rich media online platform software Kaltura states:

“In the education space, video is a critical tool for catch-up services, as well as for distance learning – for mothers who must miss classes because their kids are sick, for example. They can watch classes remotely or watch recorded versions of the lectures later. Video is also a great tool for collaboration among class members — many of whom may be located in different geographic areas.”

SJU’s Blackboard online course management system offers a couple different video tools for both faculty and students. First is “Kaltura Media.” In order to improve the performance of video files within our Blackboard courses SJU has implemented Kaltura, a video hosting service available from your course Tools menu. Here you can upload digital video files that can be embedded in your courses. Kaltura’s excellent streaming media service has eliminated the frustration of video loading too slowly in SJU Blackboard courses.

The second video tool is “Blackboard Collaborate,” an easy-to-use web conferencing environment that combines the best features of Elluminate and Wimba Classroom: two-way voice communication, multi-point video, built-in phone conferencing, interactive whiteboard, application and desktop sharing, rich media and breakout rooms. Best of all, Collaborate provides the opportunity to record an online group discussion and have that video file archived within your course to view as needed.

Equipped with a webcam and microphone, Kaltura Media and Blackboard Collaborate can enable faculty and students to fully express their creative styles!  “Video texts, as opposed to written or audio texts, provide rich and authentic input environments as they offer learners the opportunity of observing the dynamics of interaction (discourse modes, gazes, gestures, registers, paralinguistic cues, etc.) in context.”  (Dolors Masats, 2009)

The Modern and Classical Languages Department currently requires students to submit digital audio files for assessment, but what could video add to the learning experience?  Consider one of Dr. Zmurkewycz’s Spanish classes in which students must practice participating in a job interview.  These rich media tools would allow students to record their interviews outside of class, so that class time could be spent reviewing feedback and corrections.  Video also allows students to view the use of proper and improper gestures within the culture they are speaking.  For example, comfortable “personal space” varies between cultures. In Latin America, people stand much closer together than Americans do when having a conversation.  Recorded video of a “Spanish” interviewer getting closer to an American interviewee, could help the teacher and student to see if the interviewee was unaware that they were backing away during the conversation, and allows them the opportunity to correct it.  That interviewee could have been perceived as “stand-offish” due to that mistake, and it could cost him/her the job.

If you are interested in learning more about using “Kaltura Media” and “Blackboard Collaborate” within your own courses, please do the following:

  • Log into MySJU (https://my.sju.edu/cp/home/loginf )
  • Click on the School Services Tab
  • In the “Employee Training” area locate “ATDL Workshops”
  • Click on the plus sign next to “Blackboard” to view the available workshops.
  • Click “Register” and sign up for one of the many courses titled Creating Rich Media for Online Use

Joanne Piombino, Duane Glover, and Karl Platzer are also available to assist you with bringing out your creative side!

Please click on the links below to see some more imaginative ways to engage student learning through video.

Spanish II Commercial

Spanish III Commercial – Magical Mustache

You Tube Statistics. (2013, March 21). Retrieved from You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html

Dolors Masats, M. D. (2009, July 8). Exploring the Potential of Language Learning Through Video Making. Retrieved March 4, 2013, from http://divisproject.eu/attachments/083_EDULEARN_09_DIVIS.pdf

Shay David, P. (2013, February 27). Video Technology Advancements Facilitate New Education Models. Retrieved from Cengage Learning: http://blog.cengage.com/?p=614

Using Web-based Tools in the Biology Lab Course Bioinformatics

By Rev. John Braverman, S.J., Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Undergraduate research has become a major part of science education in the natural sciences. The Summer Scholars Program at SJU is a fine example of a research opportunity for undergrads. Yet, how can even more students experience this type of learning and formation? Is there a way to conduct authentic science more routinely? Recently, my colleagues posted a blog entry on these pages offering such an opportunity through the Biology lab course, Phage Safari. This coordinated, funded program deals with the genetic material of simple, yet diverse viruses found by students in soil samples. I wish now to share with readers a similar but different undergraduate research experience also offered through a Biology course.

My course this semester includes student research on the DNA sequences just obtained from certain types of fruit flies. This data, genomic sequences, are so new, so fresh, that no one knows what’s in it. The students are diving in, laboriously identifying stretches of DNA which are genes — a basic functional unit of heredity.

The course is Bioinformatics (BIO 420), and the research is made possible by the Genomics Education Partnership, centered at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. I have been grateful to receive their data and the web-based tools for the analysis. The main tool is called a genome browser. Sort of like a map, the browser contains and shows visually the DNA sequence, as well as preliminary analysis thereof. The students look at this analysis and see what the computer says about the DNA. However, several competing evidence tracks are shown, often contradicting one another. The computer cannot definitively sort through multiple lines of evidence to identify the genes — but a student can do so with a reasonable amount of training.

Screen capture displaying DNA sequence of D. melanogaster.

This figure illustrates information students use to annotate genes. They must study multiple lines of evidence (“tracks”) presented visually on a genome browser and judge which one(s) to accept. The process is time-consuming, yet rewarding! Perhaps you can notice the actual DNA sequence and possible translations into amino acids. This image is from a portion of the Drosophila biarmapes genome presented in the Gander Genome Browser of the Genome Education Partnership.

In the course of the semester, the students make models of genes right down to the coordinates, for a stretch of DNA assigned to them. What makes it all worthwhile is the joy of seeing all “passes” on the software called the Gene Model Checker. I find it rewarding to witness those moments. Much of this work is done on PCs in Science Center Room 209, but many of the students get set up on their own laptops so they have a personalized portable bioinformatics work station.

Most students share their results in oral presentations to their classmates at the end of the semester. Those of you coming to the Sigma Xi Research Symposium can see the results of three students who are presenting their findings in a poster there. Indeed, they will have gone the full journey of conducting research and presenting it to other scientists.  Meanwhile, all the students have the chance to be co-authors on the papers published using the genomic data, via the Genomics Education Partnership. Beyond merely documenting gene locations (annotation), these papers answer scientific questions about categories of chromosomal segments and their evolution.

For me, I assess student learning to find out if the research experience in a course really compares to that in a summer research experience. Yes, that was borne out in the past and we just submitted a second paper to a major journal documenting this result in more detail. (I am learning a lot about assessment protocols!)

In short, the work of training students to think scientifically and to imagine the intricacy of a very complex genome such as the fly’s has really been a fascinating and valuable experience for me as an educator.

TurningPoint (A.K.A. Clicker) Integration with Blackboard

TurningPoint ResponseCardTurningPoint ResponseCards (A.K.A. Clickers) are one of the coolest and most interactive instructional technology items we have at SJU. The clickers work in conjunction with a USB receiver and the TurningPoint Anywhere v.3 instant polling application that is installed on most podium computers across the campus. There are 35 clickers in a set, and they pack into a convenient carrying case.

Instant polling adds significant interactivity to your lecture and can really help increase student engagement. Polling may be performed anonymously when surveying the audience generally, or the unique identification number of each response unit can be entered for each student in a managed Participant List integrated with your Blackboard course.

TurningPoint Anywhere provides two actions that are integrated with Blackboard:

  • Import a Participant List from your Blackboard course
  • Export session Grades to your Blackboard course

To Import a TurningPoint Participant List from Blackboard (Mac OS):

  1. Launch TurningPoint Anywhere
  2. From the Window menu, select LMS Integrations
  3. Enter the Server Address: blackboard9.sju.edu
  4. Click Continue
  5. Enter your SJU Username and Password
  6. Select the option to Remember this information and click Continue (only your server address and user name will be remembered)
  7. Select Import Participant List and click Continue
  8. Select the appropriate Blackboard course and click Continue
  9. Specify the TurningPoint participant list file name and destination (the default location is your Documents/TurningPoint Anywhere/Participants folder) and click Save
  10. Click Done

After a session has been completed and saved, the grades can be exported to Blackboard. We’ll review those steps in the next post.

Phage Safari Gives 1st Year Biology Students Practical Lab Experience while Participating in Annual Nation-wide DNA Sequencing Effort

By Dr. Julia Lee-Soety

Christina King-Smith helps a Biology student in the lab. In 2009, Dr. Christina King Smith and I applied and were chosen to participate in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)-sponsored SEA-PHAGES (Science Education Alliance – Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science) program. This opened an opportunity for us to offer first-year students authentic research experiences and get them excited about doing science. SEA-PHAGES is now in its fifth year with 70 participating colleges and universities from around the country; Saint Joseph’s University has been a member since the second year.

Since the 2009-2010 academic year, four cohorts, each with 13 to 18 first-year Biology and Chemical-Biology students, have participated in Phage Safari. Students are selected to be a part of this two-semester lab experience in lieu of the traditional Cells and Genetics labs. In the fall semester, every student isolates viruses that have infected bacteria from a soil sample they have collected – from around campus, near their home, or at various animal enclosures at the Philadelphia Zoo. These viruses are officially known as mycobacteriphage or just simply phage. Each student would take ownership of his or her phage and even give it an official name. Nearing the end of the fall, the class agrees on one or two phages to be fully sequenced from all the phages the students had isolated.

Electron micrograph of a mycobacteriphage.Over Christmas break, DNA sequencing facilities off campus are hard at work mapping out the blueprints of the phages. Each phage has unique blueprints or DNA sequences that sets it apart from another phage even those that may appear almost identical. The sequences store information that builds up the components of the phage, dictates how it will infect a bacterial cell, and determine how it will multiply before leaving its host. When the DNA sequences are returned to us from the sequencing facilities, they are a long string of Gs, Cs, As, and Ts, representing the 4 nucleotides of DNA. Our job is to annotate it. If a DNA sequence from a phage genome is a continuous string of letters on a piece of paper, then annotating genes is analogous to identifying individual words and meaningful sentences. As each sentence has specific start and stop, each gene has the same.

Students have employed various software programs to help them do this. For the first two years, students worked on web-based workflow containing complex algorithms to identify consensus sequences frequently found at the start of each gene. To further validate the gene, students align each gene with genes of other known phages using BLAST tools; the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool is maintained by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and has been the staple tool for molecular biologists globally. As freshman, the Phage students are learning and mastering complex bioinformatics tools for research that only a handful of upper level and graduate students routinely use.

In the most recent years, students have been using DNA Master, a specifically designed genome annotation and exploration tool designed and written by Dr. Jeffrey Lawrence of the University of Pittsburgh. This program combines the gene identification algorithms and the BLAST tools onto one single work space. When the software identifies multiple potential starts of a gene, the students must sort through each gene and authenticate it based on specific rules governing all phage genes. For example, one gene should not overlap too much with its adjacent genes. There also should not be large gaps between genes. There have been incidences that DNA Master missed a gene that should have been called. The students will use the BLAST tool within DNA Master and determine if a specific region of the DNA aligns with genes of other known phages. Working in groups of 2-3, students help each other, walk through these software programs, and discuss their decisions.

At the end of the semester, the students’ work is checked before submitting the final draft to the University of Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute for further quality control. The team at Pittsburgh formally submits all analyzed phage sequences to GenBank, a database of DNA and protein sequences that is curated by NCBI.

The first cohort (2009-2010) of students identified 102 genes in phage Daisy while the second cohort (2010-2011) identified 97 genes in phage BPBiebs31. The annotated genomes for these two phages are published in GenBank. The 2011-2012 Phage students annotated two phages, Flux and Winky. Using DNA Master, the students overcame several early glitches with the program and were able to map all of Flux’s 89 genes within four weeks. The draft annotations were submitted to Pittsburgh by mid-March. Within five weeks, the students identified 142 genes in Phage Winky. The draft annotations were completed and forwarded to Pittsburgh for formal GenBank submission. Flux was published in GenBank this past June but Winky still awaits quality control. This spring, Dr. King Smith is leading the fourth cohort of phage students to annotate phages DTDevon and Oaker, again using DNA Master.

Applying eBook and Tablet Technology in a Laboratory Class Setting – Part I

by Dr. Jonathan Fingerut

Jonathan Fingerut, Saint Joseph's University, Biology DepartmentThe introduction of Apple’s free iBook Author software has made producing customized electronic texts and assessment tools easy and possibly more important, free. E-Books, of which the iBook format is just one type, provide the opportunity to embed engaging, interactive multimedia directly into texts. This can potentially increase student attention and comprehension as well as making it possible to illustrate subjects, techniques and other activities that would otherwise require moving from the text to a different platform (a computer or video screen). I use the term “potentially” because there exists little-to-no assessment of the efficacy of these new platforms in education. Anecdotal evidence seems to point towards students being more engaged by the format as it more closely resembles how this generation gets most of their other information (both educational and entertainment) but I know of no controlled studies that have proven or dis-proven this.

While E-books can be read on a variety of different platforms, including PC’s, phones, e-readers and tablets, it is the latter that appears to have the greatest potential for education. By pairing the iBook format with the iPad, it is possible to bring this tool into situations, such as wet labs, where texts and computers have previously been at a disadvantage due to the messiness that goes along with these activities. To test this combination I wrote a new dissection guide iBook for the upper division course Invertebrate Zoology.

The following video outlines that effort:

A New Dissection Guide iBook

Jonathan Fingerut demonstrates an interactive image in his iBook laboratory guide.One issue I faced was finding images and videos that could be used without licensing. I was able to produce some of the necessary material in-house with microscope-mounted cameras and cellphone video cameras, but I did not have enough time to produce all I needed, nor did I have access to all the specimens I wanted to include. Luckily a clearinghouse for creative-commons licensed multimedia is now available online at http://search.creativecommons.org/. Through this site, multiple search engines (including Google Image Search) can be automatically set to only return Creative Commons-licensed material. Creative Commons is a widely used free-use licensing scheme. Combining the text and a mélange of material, I was able to fully populate dissection guides for 13 different species ranging from the simplest sponges to the most complex arthropods. Guides included slideshows of species diversity, full-color close-up images of anatomical features, videos of animal behavior (e.g. feeding, locomotion), and interactive images where students can select labeled parts of large image on which to zoom in.

Applying eBook and Tablet Technology in a Laboratory Class Setting – Part II

by Dr. Jonathan Fingerut

Apple iPad mounted in classroom laboratory.The ability to present and use these guides on the iPad is what really makes this a breakthrough product for use in labs where students’ hands are gloved, messy, wet and slippery. Viewing iBook format files is not currently possible on traditional computers but even if that changes, goopy gloved hands do not play well with keyboards and mice. For this lab, iPads were mounted on inexpensive (~$40) stands that placed the iPads at eye-level, up off the bench away from spills. The position of the tablet allowed students working in pairs to both navigate the guide without reaching across each other for mice and keyboards. Cheap ($1 per unit) plastic sleeves designed for using the iPad in the kitchen, were placed over the tablets allowing them to be used with gloved hands without fear of damage. The sleeves could be wiped down and lasted the entire semester.

Students responded well to the new guides and the iPad interface. While a true assessment of the project was not possible, (I did not have a comparable comparison group), students reported that they felt the guides allowed them to work independently. In my estimation this was true to a greater extent than when traditional paper-based guides were used in previous years. This provided me greater opportunity to move around the classroom asking questions, pointing out interesting features of the specimens and answering more sophisticated questions than the previously common “where is the ____” or “what is that blob?”. To facilitate studying of the material outside of class, PDF and iBook versions of the guide were made available via BB and iTunesU (necessary for dissemination of iBook files).

Jonathan Fingerut demonstrates an interactive quiz in his iBook laboratory guide.One additional useful feature is the iBook format’s ability to provide students with instant feedback on their mastery of the material through custom, auto-grading embedded quizzes. At the time of the guides’ production, question types were limited to multiple-choice, matching, and a format where labels must be correctly located on an image. New third party software now allows free answers, but they are not graded in real time as the simpler built-in choices are, and must be emailed to the professor from the tablet to be graded by hand. This may be very useful for other types of assessment, but for the purposes of an exit quiz or self-examination, it is less useful.

Overall, the process of making the guides was fairly simple. The learning curve for using the software is not steep if you are already used to other WYSIWYG authoring software (PowerPoint, Page Mill, Desktop Publishing etc.) and the growing availability of CC-licensed content makes populating the files relatively easy as well. The question as to whether the new format makes a difference in terms of student learning has yet to be determined, but in this situation I saw students that were less stressed, more engaged, and overwhelmingly preferred the new format over previous traditional paper guides they had used in other courses. As the software and media resources mature, I envision that this technology can provide benefits to a range of educational situations and that more educators will feel comfortable producing their own content or using the eventual flood of commercially produced texts that are soon to follow.


Appsolute Fun by Joanne Piombino


As a person who only speaks the English language, I found the free Google Translate App very intriguing.  After watching this video I couldn’t wait to give it a try!  There are 57 languages from which to choose, and I decided to translate from English to Spanish.   It was so cool to say a sentence in English and have it repeated in Spanish!  Although it sounded great to me, I decided to check its accuracy with a Spanish speaking faculty member Theresa Zmurkewycz.  I excitedly spoke an English sentence in into my iPhone and played the Spanish translation to Theresa, she responded with a confused look and asked “What is that?” I explained to her what I was doing, and she mentioned that the translation didn’t make sense, so we did some experimenting.  What we discovered was that the app translates only literal meanings when using speech recognition.  This causes problems with the translation because it cannot pick up the context or tense within the language.  Although, we did find that the translation accuracy was more reliable if I typed the sentence into the app instead of speaking it.

Next I decided to check and see if the translation results were the same in reverse, Spanish to English.  When Theresa spoke a sentence into the phone in Spanish, the translation problem remained.  Theresa spoke in Spanish “When should I come to your house?”  The English translation we received was, “Anything when you come into your home quillo.”  We thought we might need another translating tool to explain that one to us! travel

The Google Translate app is free, and it will work better if you remember to type in the words you’d like to translate. When deciding upon the translation tool that’s best for you, keep in mind the issue of Wi-Fi.  Translation tools that require Wi-Fi can limit usability depending upon your location, and roaming charges could apply. If you desire a more accurate gizmo, and don’t mind paying up to $99 for them, check out the following link. 2013 Top Ten Best Translation Software Reviews



Another fun App that might bring out the artsy side of your personality is the Half Tone App.  This app costs 99 cents and it allows you to turn photos into comics/postcards, and it allows text editing within those photos.  The photos can be chosen from those stored on your phone, or you can take a new photo within the Half Tone App and start creating your comic immediately.  Please click on the following link to see a demonstration on how this app works: Half Tone App Demonstration



Cool Gifts for Techies — by Duane Glover

It’s that time again! What gift to buy your techie for the holidays?

Here is my list of cool gifts for the techie or semi-techie in your life… each with a price tag under $100:

Stanley DPS109 Digital Portable Power Station

Stanley DPS109 Digital Portable Power Station
The Stanley Digital Power Station will help jump start your car and so much more. It offers road-trip-friendly features such as a 350-amp battery jump starter with 700 peak battery amps, a 3 LED emergency light and a built-in digital tire inflator with automatic set and auto shut-off — but it will also power or recharge practically all of your portable electronic gear with a 200 watt/120 volt power inverter, USB outlet for your cell phone or MP3 device, and DC outlet — all in form factor of just 10″ x 7″ x 11″ and 11 lbs.


Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote

Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote
Universal remote controls have one thing almost universally in common: they are universally bad. Well, that’s what I believed before someone brought the Harmony 650 to my attention. This intuitive remote control has a color screen to display shortcuts, available commands and helpful information and will control up to five different multimedia devices. Its one-click programmable buttons can be set up with either a Windows or Mac OS computer and it is capable of a lot more than just changing channels and adjusting the volume. This is a remote control with a brain, a memory and a constantly-updated database of over 5000 devices. It is sure to be a welcome gift for any home theater owner.


Altec Lansing Octiv Duo iPhone Dock

Altec Lansing Octiv Duo iPhone Dock
The attention to details and striking wedge-like design really make me like this iPhone speaker dock. Two side-by-side docking stations allow for simultaneous charging. The remote control magnetically attaches to the back of the dock to keep it from getting lost. Then there is the free accompanying mobile app, which allows the dock to shuffle songs from each of the two docked devices — and lets you pick what percentage of songs pop up from each of your music sources.


Griffin Helo TC Assault
Griffin Helo TC Assault
When you need a break from those business presentations, try taking this 8″ missile-equipped flying machine for a spin. Using the included USB charging cable, it takes about 35 minutes to recharge the chopper and you’ll get about 10 minutes of flight time. With the appropriate iOS or Android app and audio output from the phone, your phone becomes the copter’s remote control system and rocket launcher using either an on-screen touch controlled joy stick or by tilting your phone to steer. You can expect to go through at least two or three battery cycles before getting the hang of things, and if you have a serious crash along the way, replacement parts kits are just $10.