John Johnston finds the ultimate mobile blogging app, from Radiowaves – and its free
MakeWaves'MakeWaves': ideal blog tool for Glow 2?I've been aware of Radiowaves – used by more than 50,000 pupils for safe posting of podcasts and videos – for a long time. It was one of my inspirations for Radio Sandaig and started me podcasting.

At the BETT show in January, Radiowaves’ Mark Riches told me they were working on an app for iPad and iPod Touch – MakeWaves. Now it’s out and it’s free – and I’m really impressed.

Although I'm not completely familiar with the Radiowaves site, its features and how teacher and pupil sites work together, I love the app. You can get a free account at Radiowaves which allows unlimited blogging for a school but you are limited to 30 minutes of audio and video. I created a free account to test this app. I didn't read any of the help or explanations either in the app or online – I just clicked around on MakeWaves

It runs on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad (an Android version is expected soon). On the iPad it runs as an iPhone sized app but can be used at double size to fill the screen.

I really like the look and feel of this application. It's simple and straightforward, in line with a lot of recent apps that I've downloaded: fewer 3D drop shadows and gradients, more space and less colour. The app is split into five main sections accessed through the toolbar along the bottom: MakeWaves, Buzz, Post, My Stuff and Settings.

Media-rich blogs or stories, created on mobile devices, are straightforward

The MakeWaves screens shows three streams of posts from the site – Primary, Secondary and Things to Do. Clicking on thumbnails lets you access the content.

The section I was really interested in was Post, but before I went there I needed to visit Settings and add my account details. This was straightforward although the default setting differentiates between story and blog [Radiowaves also runs students' news stories].

MediaWaves 2Posting blogs is straightforwardAs soon as I saw the Post screen I liked it. Four simple buttons at the top to upload media: pictures from the camera roll, video, audio and the camera. The video button lets you choose clips you have already shot, or use the camera to record more..

In seconds I had taken a screenshot, used the Photo button to choose it, written a line of text and posted it. I followed by testing the audio button. The app lets you record a sound and upload it, again a very straightforward process. I then tested video, and used an iPad and iPod Touch as well. All performed beautifully. Later on I used my iPhone’s 3G conection to add a short audio file. It worked a treat, uploading quickly.

An interesting feature of the app and Radiowaves generally is the teacher approval. For this review I undertook the roles of both teacher and learner so, as in a school context, I had to ‘approve’ my own posts. The process is pretty simple on the Radiowaves site – you purchase an app (£1.49) that lets you approve your pupils on the Buzz screen.

The My Stuff screen gives you a view of all your stories and blogs. This lets you know the ones that are still awaiting approval and the work of others waiting for broadcast by your ‘station’. You can also see if anyone ‘liked’ your work.

The Settings screen is straightforward. This is the place you can log in, and it’s also easy to log out and allow the same device to be used by more than one pupil.

I am extremely impressed with this app. It is the first one I have seen that allows posting of images, video and sound. (When I saw the Posterous app I immediately put in a feature request for audio recording.)

MakeWaves minimises technical barriers, so users concentrate on the storytelling

The application, when used on an iPhone or iPod Touch, is not built for long-form blogging, but it is ideal for the much more interesting, in my opinion, mobile and group publishing of rich media. This is done in a way that minimises the technical barriers allowing users to concentrate purely on their digital storytelling.

This could be an amazing tool for trip blogging. It should even be possible to have, say, several iPod Touches out on a school trip using one iPhone's internet ‘tethering’ connection to allow mobile blogging by a group of learners.

Finally, having struggled and mostly failed to find a simple mobile blogging method for blogs on Glow (the Scottish national learning network) it would be great to have a similar app in the new Glow2.


John JohnstonThis review was kindly supplied by  North Lanarkshire ICT staff development officer John Johnston. It first appeared on his popular blog, John’s World Wide Wall Display (Teaching, ICT and suchlike)