UPDATE: develops Android Apps for Teachers. Right now they have four apps: Gradebook, Attendance, Grade Rubric, and Grade Ticker. Three of them are free and a free version of the fourth one will be available by February 11, 2011

UPDATE: All of the apps I list below are now annotated. I’ll annotate the other stuff later.
UPDATE: I’ve now annotated all three sections, but now I realize a few of the items in the second section are redundant

Some of my academic friends are starting to get Android phones. One my friends in the history department just bought a Droid, and I met with her last week to show her all the cool things she can do with it.

I’ve also decided that one of my next professional development center presentations will be called something like “Android for Academics” and I’ll basically do a live demo of all the cool things you can do with an Android smart phone that would be useful for academics.

Right now I’m generating a useful list of apps/tips/tricks that I’ll point people too as I prepare for the presentation. I thought I would just keep the list out in the open so people could start to see what I’m up to now. This may not be useful for some people without some more descriptions and detail,  but I think even this bare outline will be useful to some of my friends. That’s why I’m posting it now. I’ll build more on this and add more descriptions for each of the apps/tips/tricks I mention below. Right now, I just want to generate a skeletal outline.

Apps for Academics
You can find these apps by searching for them in the Android Marketplace from your Android powered phone.

  1. Documents To Go
    Free version let’s you read MS Office files. Paid version let’s you edit them.
  2. Facebook
    Facebook has built a native client. It’s limited in terms of features, but it’s useful way to check and update facebook. Comes with Android 2.0 automatically.
  3. Twidroid
    Hands down the best twitter app on the market. Paid version lets you update multiple accounts.
  4. Listen
    Google’s podcasting app. Subscribe to your favorite podcasts and listen to them on the go (most major news sources have a podcast now). Great way to stay informed. (While your at it – if you want to get updated about what’s new in the philosophy journals – subscribe to my podcast)
  5. Ustream
    Record and stream live video from your Android phone, and have people watch it on Ustream. This kind of stuff is going to revolutionize academic conferences.
  6. Qik
    Same kind of thing as Ustream (I kind of like Ustream better, right now, but haven’t compared the two enough yet)
  7. Voice Recorder
    Does what it says. I’ve already recorded lectures with this, and I use it to create my podcast.
  8. DropDroid
    Manage and create drops. If you don’t know what is, you need to check it out – tons of useful applications for academics.
  9. Google SkyMap
    Point your phone at the night sky and it shows you what constellations you’re looking at! It works great! I know…living in the future is awesome.
  10. MediaFly
    Another podcasting app, but it plays video. So you can subscribe to things like your favorite MS NBC news broadcasts with a MediaFly account and watch them on your phone.
  11. Mobile GA (Google Analytics)
    If you have a website and use Google Analytics to track the traffic. This is a great app (mAnalytics is another one), but I like this better. Better UI and Authentication with Google’s servers.
  12. Scan2PDF Mobile
    Snap pictures of journal articles/archives/handouts from conferences and create incredibly crisp high-quality PDFs – and then immediately email them to whoever. I use this to create PDFs of readings for my classes now. You have to pay for this one, but it is completely worth every cent.
  13. WikiTude
    Augmented Reality app. Point your camera, and information about what you’re looking at pops up on the screen.
  14. Google Goggles
    No annotation could do this one justice…Augmented Reality+RecognizeAnythingSoftware on Steroids might work. Just watch this video. Again…living in the future in awesome.
  15. WP2Go
    If you have a wordpress blog, or are using wordpress as a course management system (I do both) – this is a must have app.
  16. Blogaway
    If you have a blogger blog – this looks like a must have. I haven’t played around with it yet, but this review seems to give it a huge thumbs up.
  17. TasKiller
    I have yet to experience any sluggishness with the Droid, but if things ever feel sluggish or a program starts acting up – start from scratch. This is an easy method to kill individual apps. It also comes with a universal kill switch widget. I keep this on the home screen.
  18. Calendar (pre-installed)
    This comes native with any Android phone and syncs with Google Calendar, but most people don’t realize how awesome it is. Play around with this if you haven’t already.
  19. CalWidget
    This gives you the ability to put a widget on your homescreen that displays the next several items on your agenda from Google Calendar. I’d definitely file this one under must have.
  20. Evernote (must be installed from Evernote site – click here from Android phone to download)
    Evernote is a fantastic online note organizing service. This app makes it awesome. Create, manage, and sync text, picture, or audio notes with your online account.
  21. SMS Backup
    Backs up your text messages to Gmail. You can delete them from your phone and speed it up, but keep them forever. I find I’m doing more and more professional communication via text message, so I like to have this stuff backed up.
  22. My Maps Editor
    Create maps and add location points via GPS, then layer them into Google Maps and even get directions back to those points with the Navigate feature. I imagine this would be great for academics who do a lot of field work.

Things You Can Do
I’m slowly starting to build a list of things you can do with an Android powered smart phone (focusing on productivity applications that academics would be interested in). Some of these items are a bit redundant, now that I’ve annotated the above apps. But since this is a brainstorm list – I’ll keep the structure like this for now.

  1. Record Audio of Lectures
    I use the Voice Recorder app
  2. Record Video for Teaching (and post to YouTube)
    The native camera for the Droid takes incredible video for a smartphone, and has easy YouTube integration. I gave a presentation on Google, and directed the audience to this presentation slide to see demonstration of the video capabilities of an Android phone.
  3. Stream Talks/Discussions Live
    I use the Ustream app for this. Imagine being able to broadcast live from where ever you are. There are huge potential research and teaching applications for academics.
  4. Take Attendance
    I developed a quick and easy method to take attendance with an Android phone using Google Forms and it automatically dumps your attendance data in a nice, easy to extract format in a Google spreadsheet. I wrote up a tutorial here.

  5. Grading Rubric
    I grade papers using a grading rubric. Google forms + spreadsheet + Android phone (on the Go) make this one of hte best ways I’ve seen to quickly grade student papers while keeping yourself fair, consistent, and objective. I wrote up a tutorial here.
  6. Create PDFs of Journal Articles/Archives
    Scan2PDFMobile is a must have app for academics. I’ve already created a bunch of PDFs for my online class in January.
  7. Take text, picture, audio notes on the go and Sync to an online account
    This is where the Evernote app comes in handy.
  8. Manage/View Calendar (get text/pop-up reminders)
  9. Take Calls from Students without giving out number (requires Google Voice)
    With a Google Voice number you can embed a call widget inside your course webpage. Students can call you, but you don’t have to give out your cell phone number to students.
  10. Chat with Students via Google Talk
    Next semester, I’m going to allow students to contact me using Google Talk.
  11. Blog
    Lots of great apps for editing blogs. I have a bunch of different wordpress installs, and I can manage all of them through WP2Go. It’s fantastic. (If you use blogger, you might try Blogaway – see review here)
  12. Use your campus email

Mobile Browsing Tips and Tricks (No Apps Needed)
This is a list of tips and tricks – also useful for academics – that don’t require apps from the store.

  1. Google News
    The site is optimized for Android phones. I created a shortcut on homescreen to have quick access to current events.
  2. Google Reader
    Also optimized for Android phones. Quick access to everything that’s going on in my field (philosophy) if you track the right blogs and journals.
  3. Google Documents
    You can read your Google documents from your phone  (and edit your spreadsheets). I suspect it won’t be long until we can edit word processing documents from our phones.
  4. Google Forms
    The attendance, grading, and expense tracking I note above use Google Forms. I imagine there are going to be all sorts of useful things academics can do with Google Forms and an Android smart phone.

Other Cool Apps
There are loads of great apps, and not all of them have immediately obvious applications to academia. But if you’ve got this great smartphone at your disposal, you might as well be aware of some of the other cool things you can do with it.

  1. Pandora
    Free streaming music with customizable channels.
  2. MotoTorch (for Droid owners)
    Turn your LED flash on a Droid into a flashlight.
  3. Shazam
    Don’t remember the name of that song on the radio. Shazam will figure it out for you.
  4. ShopSavvy
    Scan barcodes with your camera and figure out where you can get it online for the best price.
  5. Roku Remote (if you have a Roku Player)
    Just bought a Roku Player, and I was thrilled to find this app on the Market.
  6. Places
    Uses the built in GPS and then gives you a list of nearby points of interest (stores, restaurants, etc..)
  7. Google Maps (with Navigate feature)
    The Google maps feature has come a long way since I bought my first Android phone a year ago. It now has Garmin-like voice navigation. (GPS-nav companies’ stock prices plummeted when Google released this feature a couple of weeks ago)
  8. The Weather Channel
    We get 100 inches of snow a year in Fredonia. Nice to have a weather app – especially one that gives you bad weather alerts that push into the notification bar like an email would.

Again, this is just a brain storm list that I will add to and think about for my presentation next semester. I thought, however, that it would be good to get the list out now. After my presentation, I’ll elaborate on some of this.

Stay tuned. I predict that 2010 will be Android’s year – and I’ll likely have a lot more to say about Android for Academics.

5 Responses to “Android for Academics”

  1. Shane Steinert-Threlkeld

    Professor Cullison,

    As a Philosophy student and long-time reader who just got his first smart phone (an HTC Droid Eris), I have found this resource very useful.

    I have one question though: have you found any citation management tools for Android? I use a combination of Zotero and Mendeley on the desktop and was wondering if there was any app that has similar functionality. I mainly want to have access to my sync’d journal PDFs (which I store independently of Dropbox because that’s mostly full). Any ideas?


  2. Andrew Cullison

    Hi Shane,

    I don’t know of a citation management tool for Android, but I do know of some great ways to store and access PDFs from the cloud on the cheap.

    Dropbox is one way to go…Google Docs is another. For $5 a year you get 20 GB of storage space from Google which can be used across all of their services (mail, documents, picasa, etc…

    I store a lot of PDFs in Google Docs…when I want to access one I open up Google Docs, search for the PDF and click it. It downloads it and I can read it with a native PDF reader.

  3. John McLear

    Hey mate I’m working on an app that takes pic of kids work and grades it / sends it to portfolio

    It’s called Classdroid, I’m documenting my journey on my blog so feel free to follow along 🙂

  4. Phil

    Great list, I always appreciate when I can add a few great apps to my phone to help me in my classroom and my life. Here is my list for what I and others have found useful on the Android phone:

  5. Shelby Tenbusch

    Spotify will work!

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