Friday, January 20, 2012

Has Apple finally done it?

Have we finally fundamentally shifted the textbook and publishing market in K-12 education?  I have been saying (felt like preaching) for 2-3 years that it would take a major player to push the publishing companies from their traditional market place into the new arena, and it looks like Apple has stepped up to the plate. 

Our mindset shifts from the iPad as a tool that provides a majority of functionality for students, when it comes to consuming, collaborating, communicating, etc. to a device that does all that plus house their textbooks without a third party application.  The iPad was already relevant in education, but it just moved to the top of the list for many school districts across the country.  Schools can now leverage textbook dollars towards iPads and use VPP vouchers to purchase textbooks for students, while providing them a tool that allows effecient communication, collaboration and access.

The game has changed.  Thank you Apple for being the pioneer we all know you for.  You have revolutionized smartphones and music.  You are well on your way for revolutionizing education and the way we think of textbooks.

Game on.

Update / Clarification 1.21.12:   In response to the first comment below, let me make a clarification that I may not have initially been clear about.  This event is more about shifting the philosophy of publishing companies than a revolution of education.  While I believe this is a first step in a revolution process, it isn't the complete revolution itself.  Textbooks have to be interactive, engaging and relevant for students.  Change. 


Monday, January 16, 2012

App Review: CloudOn

If you are like me, you are always look for new apps for your iPhone / iPad that simplify the way you organize and share information.  I think CloudOn has hit a homerun. 

CloudOn is an app that allows you to utilize virtual instances of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint while linking to your Dropbox account.  Finally, an app that allows me to utilize these Microsoft tools while providing a seamless link to an online storage platform.

I've been using this app for a couple of weeks and have found myself moving away from Pages on my iPad.  The primary reason is the link to Dropbox.  With Pages I was always having to email my notes to myself and then save them the appropriate folder on my machine.  CloudOn removes that extra step. 

CloudOn also provides users who are used to Microsoft products a familiar look and feel.  While I had started to become accustomed to Pages, I'm glad to have an option when it comes to productivity. 

The biggest plus of CloudOn?  Free.  Yep - it is free.  Obviously, you will need a Dropbox account, but that also is free (at least the basic version).  You will spend $30 for Apple's version of these three products, and not have the seamless connection to storage.  This tips the scales towards CloudOn. 

If you haven't had a chance to check out CloudOn, I strongly recommend you do so.  I believe you will find it to be a valuable productivity and organizational tool.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Vision of K-12 Students: Today

A new look at what today's students need to be successful.


More than just the box

Technology in education is more than just the box.  As education technology leaders, we can't be consumed with the number or types of devices we are placing in the hands of our students and teachers.  (Both of these items are important, but shouldn't be the focus.)
Technology in education is more than just the box.  We have to ensure students and teachers understand how and why to utilize these tools to enhance learning opportunities.  This infers a strong connection to Teaching and Learning and that the boxes are valued as tools that enable teachers and students to communicate more effectively and efficiently, collaborate in new ways, more efficient research and organizational skills. 

Technology in education is more than just the box.  We have to ensure that proper professional development and support for teachers and students exists in our model.  To place technology in buildings for use by teachers and students without proper training, ongoing support, and modeling is a waste of dollars.  While some teachers are able to navigate the tools and learn on their own, many teachers need peers to assist them along the way.

Technology in education is more than just the box.  Educational institutions need visionary leaders who look beyond the current state and forward to where the technology is moving.  Without proper vision and understanding of trends, research, and outlook district technology will become outdated, unusable, and an afterthought.

Technology in education is more than just the box.  As education technology leaders, it is imperative we look beyond the boxes in our buildings and place our emphasis on student learning, professional development, classroom modeling, support for teachers, and visioning.  A box is a box.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Apple to Revolutionize Textbooks?

I have been saying to friends and family for a couple of years that it would take a mega company to shake-up the current practices between school districts and publishing companies.  The publishing companies are still running business (for the most part) as if it were 1987.  While they may have the technology and the tools to completely digitize all their content and offer every school district in the country digital textbooks, they simply haven't done it, and they haven't been in a hurry to do it.  Why should they?  They have a cash cow with their current structure, and until someone comes along and moves their cheese, they aren't going to drastically shift their current model. 

Then along comes Apple.  Apple is supposedly poised to make a big splash at the end of this month with an announcement relevant to digital textbooks and education.  (See here.)  It doesn't surprise me that this is Apple's next big splash.  Steve Jobs revolutionized the way we listen to music, the way we utilize cell phones (can we really even call them cell phones anymore?), and the way we communicate / collaborate.  Why shouldn't he be the one to revolutionize the way our schools deliver digital content to students? 

I hope that this next big announcement isn't a false hope and these aren't simply rumors.  The textbook industry needs to be rocked, and I am hoping Apple is the first one to deliver the blow.