Somehow, I still get the feeling that I always got when I saw the Officeworks ‘Back to School’ catalog in the mailbox in old media days. NO, not yet!
Posts Tagged ‘apple’
I’ve embedded the Apple announcement on text books below. I’ve already heard some negative reactions in the twittiverse arguing that this is another examples of Apple’s ‘walled garden’ approach, and that locking schools and districts into Apple systems entirely is not a good move. It seems there’s other questions too about whether these textbooks will be available on other platforms (unlikely) or available in other formats (very unlikely).
Nevertheless, I’m quite excited about it, particularly from a writer’s perspective. Could I write my textbook and have it on the Apple bookstore without the intermediary of the publisher? Like musicians do now? Could we break down the systems and empower good teachers and good teacher/authors and share their expertise more widely? And I’m definitely going to download the publication software.
But I have reservations, and they are more around the idea of the textbook in the first place. Maybe the textbook thing is bigger in the United States than here, or maybe because I’m an English teacher there isn’t generally the reliance on a textbook beyond the set novels and plays.
The video says they are going to change ‘one of the cornerstones of education: the textbook’. But is the textbook really that critical? How does this change learning? Or teaching? And, will replacing the traditional textbook with a ‘bells and whistles’ version change the classroom experience? Where are the collaborative tools, the feedback, the personalisation, the differentiation, the user-created textbook that we’ve talked about for some time.
There’s no doubt it will look pretty, it will save a lot of printing and heavy schoolbags for kids with iPads (oh yeah, how many is that right now?), they can be updated easily and they will be more engaging. But every time I hear ‘engagement’ as an argument for new software and hardware I cringe a little. There’s got to be better reasons than that. We shall see!
Okay, I admit it, I want one.
I’ve been hanging out for the duration of the Ipad based on the sage advice of many tech-head friends who proclaim solemnly; ‘thou shalt not buy version 1 of any Apple product’. And I listened. And in a couple of weeks I’m going to be grabbing version 2, though I am too dignified to sleep outside the Apple store before opening time.
But I DON’T think this going to transform education anytime soon. For my senior Literature class, with a Toshiba tablet-pc in front of them, the uber-cool ipad would, in fact, be a step backward in terms of pure technology. Sans keyboard for example. I played around iwth an Ipad travelling around Spain last year, and it was a fantastic tool for that kind of thing, but I’d hate to write anything much longer than a recipe on it.
And there are a ton of implementation issues that go along with it too.
So I want one, and so do half my students probably. But I cant see it as becoming THE viable ongoing real tool that students use for creating content. More likely I see the 1-1 going the way of the 1 to many. And that students (and teachers) will access their information and interact with it in a variety of ways, through ipads and slates, through smart phones and netbooks and through more traditional notebooks and even desktops.
And, when I actually want to start writing something anything longer than this blog post, I’m gonna want a keyboard to do it. A real one with springy touchy feedback; perhaps one of those lovely little Apple blue-tooth ones! Unless someone invents voice-recognition that actually works! But don’t get me started on that.
Of course I’m going to get myself an ipad sometime in the forseeable future and enjoyed StephenFry’s piece on this new tool in TIME last month. Maybe for me it will be the second generation version, when the bugs like wireless dropping out have been fixed, but I must admit I wasn’t really seeing the ipad as a tool for students in the classroom.
As a long time proponent of the 1-1 computer version of learning, I couldn’t see the point in giving kids a relatively under-powered device that lacked the content creation facilities of a decent notebook computer. Our students get the full version of Office, large chunks of the Adobe Master Collection including Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat Pro along with a suite of other software like Inspiration, Photo Story and some tablet-specific things like Ink Art. We’re looking at flash drive based machines running Windows 7 that start up quickly and can multi-task with ease, as the students can too!
But I was talking to an educator yesterday who was pretty enthusiastic about the Ipad as a learning device, particularly for younger students. And that was something I hadn’t thought about, concentrating as I was on students like my senior Literature class who have been using OneNote as their note-taking tool and collaborating on multiple wikis.
So, I was pleasantly surprised to this post by Will Richardson, which has a video conversation with NY TImes columnist Warren Buckleiter, who talks enthusiastically about the potential of the ipad for younger students: the power of its tactile nature and the growing range of possible apps. The conversation is here: