Tuesday, January 31, 2012

iBooks2 if only

iBooks2 textbook concept for iPad -- http://edudemic.com/2012/01/ibooks2/

Reading this piece, it seems really strange and backwards that our district has a purchasing ban on ipads (most other tablets, too?), one that has not yet been explained or even defended. I'd like to learn more about writing course content for ipad apps -- I suppose loading pdfs is an easy way to migrate learning objects and handouts, but I'd like to "invert" some of my classroom and have it available on the ipad -- interactive rich media that students pick up when they start a course, or for general consumption. I had a chance to consult with Pearson on their ipad version of SS10 Horizons and SS11 Counterpoints, so I have a small idea what this might look like, and I'm quite sure that if teachers are to be encouraged to experiment with this concept, it will require time, support, and some investment in equipment for teachers and students.

I followed along with the #bcedplan twitter chat
on Jan 19th, 2012  -- George Abbott and anyone with an opinion discussing what curriculum looks like in a personalized learning setting. Many ministry/admin/teacher folks were excited by the role technology plays and what the new iBooks2 could offer, and were surprised to know that our district has blocked purchase of ipads, somehow an extension of the single-platform affair. We've opened up cell phone use in the classroom, opened partly functional wifi networks, and unblocked some of the dreaded apps like facebook (at some locations?), and encouraged BYOD "bring your own device" mindset, yet a teacher can't even ask about getting an ipad for self or students to do project work, create content, etc. In other words, we're allowing students to practice their addictions non-stop, codifying the disconnect that has grown up around us in the last few years, and yet hamstringed the teacher initiatives that try to make sense of the technology and use it for positive outcomes. I know many teachers have been at this for a while; sadly it will probably take a progressive administrator to question the ludicrous ipad ban and figure out how to by a pod or two for staff or students. It doesn't need to be 1:1, but we can't expect widespread uptake of new ideas when teachers have to finance it themselves. I think it was one of our “techie” teachers that figured out in 2010 how it would pay for itself in saved textbook costs.

I've beat this drum before but it seemed relevant given Abbott's twitter chat and the announcement from Apple. A retired colleague sent me an email about the ibooks2
"Wow, Apple into the textbook market. Guess the economic argument against dual platforms in the District just evaporated. Even a free app for those who want to write interactive textbooks. What does the District do in face of this tsunami? When you have the likes of E O Wilson writing textbooks, one of which is free, you better work on bandwidth. Have a good day."
To date, no one has actually confirmed why it is that pc-ready ipads have been blocked in our district; I'm not convinced it is tied to the single-platform issue, but perhaps it is one of cost? Something along the lines: if we block the tablets, we force the idea that teachers and students will supply their own technology? I suppose the full conversation will have to wait until after job action... the board office needs to finish what it started when ipad/ipod projects (& other "21st Century" pilots) were rejected last year without explanation. The bandwidth conversation needs to happen, too... I'm curious to know how we plan to deal with capacity.

Anyways, my present interest in the issue raised by my retired colleague does not involve any purchasing -- let's take a serious look at the creation of content for etexts.

Does anyone know what it takes to get our district or province registered with iTunes U so we can start building? So far, it seems only Alberta is registered -- http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5113 - I could register my own personal school district or province but that might not get very far!

Back in the day people used to call SD57 a "lighthouse" district but that moniker has not fit for a number of years, perhaps since TLITE, tech coaches, KTC & coordinated leadership, DTT & collaborative decision-making, and teacher-driven standards all went bye-bye. If we keep burying our head in the sand on tech conversations, tech devices, etc. we will stay in the dark, waiting for other districts and entities to generate content that fits our needs. There is awesome stuff out there, that's why iTunes U, Khan academy, TED, youtube, etc. are filling needs, but there are also powerful local voices (individuals and groups) that deserve a sophisticated means of delivering their ideas, and an enduring need for something authoritative like a text. I'd like to see the opportunity met before the ship sails past SD57.

So, if anyone has any insight how to get registered, please let me/us know. Probably requires a ministry contact?

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