Monday, February 13, 2012

Where does iBooks Author Play in the K-12 Landscape?

With all the focus over the past few weeks around Apple starting to sell textbooks via their iBooks 2 platform for the iPad, I think the most important part of their announcement was overlooked. 

The iBooks Author tool that provides users the ability to create and publish their own multi-touch textbooks is a bigger game changer.  Many school districts (like my own) write their own curriculum through a process with teachers and other leaders, and the ability to create these interactive and engaging textbooks that best meet a specific district's needs are of huge value. 

The iBooks Author tool allows the creator to insert text, graphics, videos, and more to create a customized learning tool that flows with their curriculum and meets the needs of an engaged learner.  These media rich, interactive texts provide students with the cutting edge learning tools they have been asking us for. 

I have spoke to colleagues who believe this first pass at the Author tool isn't as intuitive it could be for the average user, and I have complete faith (in true Apple style) they will streamline their product in a next release that will make the creation and publishing more intuitive. 

Here is a look at the iBooks Author tool:

What are your thoughts on the iBooks Author tool?  Do you believe it has the potential to be a disruptive tool in K-12?  Why or why not?


BYOD versus District Provided Devices

Many school district across the country are struggling with the notion of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) versus providing district owned devices to their students.  I believe there are pros and cons to both sides, and will try to lay out a few of those below.  Feel free to add your own thoughts on the pros and cons of either program, including experiences in your own school district.  

  • Low cost for the school district. 
  • Students get to bring their personal and customized device that meets their needs. 
  • Students are guaranteed to have access to that device 24/7.

  • Who supports the device during the school day?
  • Students, parents, and schools are concerned about damage and theft.  
  • How do teachers manage multiple devices in their classrooms?  

District Provided Devices 
  • Similar device for students make it easy to manage and support. 
  • Easy to deploy district applications across a common platform. 
  • Higher cost for districts. 
  • No guarantee of students being able to take the device home.  
  • Students can't customize the device to their liking as much as they can in a BYOD environment.

I believe that regardless of the platform that a district chooses, they need to have conversations and discussions with their teachers, administrators AND students on what environment would best meet their needs.  The ultimate driver has to be Teaching and Learning, and they have to see the value that either of these programs would provide to the overall learning process.  Without that connection - both programs will fail.