Classrooms, Technology and The All Mighty Dollar.

This topic has been bouncing around in my noggin for some time and it was the recent announcement from Apple that help to bring it all to a point. What recent announcement you ask? Well if you are in education and you happened to miss the big news here is a small excerpt, courtesy of the NYTimes Bits Blog:

Apple wants students to stop lugging around backpacks full of heavy textbooks and to switch to the iPad instead.

Now I’m an Apple fan just as much as the next guy. And one has to admit that the iPad, regardless of version, is a beautiful piece of hardware.  All that being said however does it really make sense for schools to put out the $400+ per iPad for each student in lieu of buying a textbook? Sure over time it would eventually pay for itself, but that pill is a mighty tough one to swallow even at a steep discount schools may get.

More from the NYTimes article:

On Thursday the company introduced three free pieces of software revolving around education. It released iBooks 2, a new version of its electronic bookstore, where students can now download textbooks; iBooks Author, a Macintosh program for creating textbooks and other books; and iTunes U, an app for instructors to create digital curriculums and share course materials with students.

Digital textbooks made for iBooks can display interactive diagrams, audio and video. The iBooks Author app includes templates made by Apple, which publishers and authors can customize to suit their content.

But wait can’t the iPad do much more than just provide an alternative to traditional textbooks? Sure, there’s access to the web and don’t forget Angry Birds! I completely recognize the challenge that traditional textbooks pose; they’re heavy, susceptible to wear and tear, and are all but out of date the day the come off the press. Oh yeah, and expensive as compared to their eBook counterpart. Well haven’t eBooks and eReaders been around for years? There are seemingly more eReaders becoming available every day it seems, many coming down in price to below $99.

I recently came across this special offer direct from Barnes and Noble:

Get NOOK Simple Touch FREE w/ a 1-Year Subscription to NY Times at $19.99/month

Now I’m not advocating that every student in the United States sign up for a subscription in the NY Times for a year (as much as I’m sure the NY Times would love that) but rather wanting to point out that very capable eReaders are readily available that would serve students quite well to simply replace books. Would it replace every type of book? Probably not. Would it serve every whim that a student may want to use the device for, such as playing Angry Birds? Probably not. But what it could easily do is provide an extremely cost effective alternative to many traditional books. Books in the library, books in the classroom, and probably the vast majority of text books. And at the lower price point they could be used as a gradual approach to this new technology in the classroom rather than a large-scale investment that would come with the iPads.

When schools are struggling to accomplish such simple tasks as keeping schools open due to budget cuts or providing adequate transportation it just doesn’t seem to make sense that the typical school could justify an investment such as the latest with the new iPad and iTunesU. Perhaps in a few years should the price come down? But by then the existing eReaders will be even more cost effective.

As I say, I’m truly a fan of Apple and the iPad is a remarkable device. I just can’t see it makes sense financially for it to become a central part of the classroom. That’s all.

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Wired a Lot!: this is your Brain

Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).  And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.

The amount of time spent with media increased by an hour and seventeen minutes a day over the past five years, from 6:21 in 2004 to 7:38 today.  And because of media multitasking, the total amount of media content consumed during that period has increased from 8:33 in 2004 to 10:45 today.

See the full info graphic here.

See the Kaiser Family Foundation Study. BTW, 7th-12th graders report spending an average of 1 hour & 35 minutes a day sending or receiving texts. (Time spent texting is not counted as media use in this study.)

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Quizzes to learn vocabulary

One of the features of 19 Pencils that could be very helpful in increasing vocabulary is the quiz feature. By uploading words and definitions, student would be able to study a variety of different words to prepare them for future readings or in class vocabulary exams. Here are some step on creating a great vocabulary quiz on 19 Pencils.

1. Go to “Add Content” and select the “Create Quiz” tab

2. Fill out all of the information you want the students to have on the first card

3. Once you have filled out the first card, click the “Add Card” button at the top and select “After Current” button and select “Add Card”. This will create a card after the title card. You will want to do this for as many words you want the quiz to cover. Depending on the age, the number should be around 20 or 25.

4. Once you have created the number of cards you will need, it’s time to start filling out the cards. Since this is a vocabulary quiz, you might only want one answer per definition to not confuse students.

5. Once you have all of the words and definitions in place, go to the “My Favorites” tab and select the “Quizzes” tab. Here, you will see your created quiz and be able to place it on your class page or on a specific assignment page.

6. You’re done! Let the students take the quiz and track how well they do.

By using the quiz feature, a teacher can help their students learn vocabulary and prepare for future reading assignments. It’s just another awesome feature of 19 Pencils.

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Keeping Up With What’s New in the Digital World!


We’re always curious how educators find Please let us know.

Teaming Rocks! Collaborate in Powerful Ways

I’m always amazed at the knowledge of colleagues and wonder, How did they learn about that app or this site!?!Digital tools and trends are growing exponentially, however their quality and usefulness are not all created equal! It’s a real challenge to keep up!

How can a team of teachers stay abreast of new developments in the digital world in order to incorporate great instructional tools that will engage and empower their students?  Chances are there is a wide range of knowledge and skill with digital tools on a team.  However, all teachers must embrace the digital world if they want to remain relevant to their students whose lives often center on the variety of opportunities presented by the web. This chart from the Pew Internet and American  Life Project shows the degree that teenagers are using the internet.

Chart showing 88% of teenagrs are using the internet

Teams with common planning time can develop their own professional learning…

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All I want for Christmas is my own Educational Search Widget

And now anyone can have one!

Just copy the javascript and insert it into your blog!

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The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — by Larry Ferlazzo

“The websites on this list were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.”

My personal favorite:

Here’s the full post.

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