Cost of equipping Florida students with iPads? $441 million | Saint Petersblog

Cost of equipping Florida students with iPads? $441 million | Saint Petersblog.

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Texbooks in All Florida School Districts Required to Go Digital By 2015-2016

Texbooks in All Florida School Districts Required to Go Digital By 2015-2016.

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FCTE 2012

Hello teachers,

It’s been about five years since I presented at FCTE, and I’m excited to be back, bringing you ideas for enhancing your writing and reading curriculum through technology. I explore using Google Drive (formerly Google Documents) in the classroom and give you additional free Web resources for you and your students to use.

2012 FCTE presentation

Going Green presentation

free web tools


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Create original material with IBooks Author

Apple recently released iBooks Author, a free application available for Mac users. (I have a Macbook, so I needed to update my operating system to use the app.) If you have KeyNote, you’ll recognize some of the features in the toolbar such as Inspector, Media, Colors, and Fonts.  There’s a wonderful integration of Mac programs here with the ability to drag and drop Word documents, iMovie videos, and KeyNote presentations from your desktop into a project. Picture galleries as well as 3D renderings can be included. Teachers will love the feature that allows you to create multiple choice questions for students to answer.

Not being able to upload PDFs into the program, however, is a major drawback. If you try to do so, you’ll only be able to see the first page of a multi-page PDF file. The only way I could get PDFs into iBooks Author was to create a new Word document and add a PDF as an image, but only ONE page at a time. Needless to say, this is time-consuming and probably not worth your time for something such as a 20-page file.

I’m guessing the omission of PDFs as part of the compatible software is very much on purpose. Every flick of your finger opens a Pandora’s box worth of copyright issues. Anyone with extra time on their hands could scan pages from books, place them in an iBook, and distribute them, which seriously violates copyright laws. Lifting pictures from the Internet and placing them into iBooks Author is quite simple, but again that violates copyright. You Tube videos can be downloaded and saved using a site called SaveVid, and uploading those videos that aren’t your creations violates copyright.

If iBooks with copyright violations enter the market yet are offered for free to only a teacher’s group of 150 students, will copyright holders even have access to track down these violations? Even copyright holders could have access to track down copied work, do they care enough to dedicate countless staff to finding material and prosecuting pirates? Perhaps copyright holders would go after the serious violators who are trying to profit from the distribution of these pirated materials.

If you want to avoid any legal issues, write your own material and take take your own pictures and video. Have kids create videos and give them credit for work they do in your book, but have students and their parents sign copyright and media release forms. If you want to use pictures, video, and other content from the Web, you can always attempt to contact the copyright holder and request permission to use their material in your publication. For more information on copyright laws, check out Fair Use, Copyright for Teachers and School Librarians, and A Fair(y) Use Tale.


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Parents and students can explore new Treasure Coast regional virtual school Thursday »


Parents and students can explore new Treasure Coast regional virtual school Thursday »

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Apple makes big play for share of textbook market | Detroit Free Press |

Apple makes big play for share of textbook market | Detroit Free Press |

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South Korea classrooms to go fully digital by 2015

If you think the U.S. is preparing students for 21st century learning in a global environment, think again. Check out this video story from Reuters:

South Korea classrooms to go fully digital by 2015 | Video |

July 28 – South Korea is pushing forward with a plan to completely digitize its classrooms by 2015. The US$2.1 billion plan calls for supplying every student in the country with a digital tablet replacing traditional textbooks. The tablets will give the students access to a massive cloud-based network where students can learn online, even when they are sick at home. Ben Gruber reports.

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The new journalistic frontier

As journalism textbooks from 1993 collect dust in my classroom and more news organizations close their doors, I am left wondering what’s next for journalism in America.

While reading articles on my iPad, I decided to take a survey offered at the bottom of the AP News app about how I acquire my news. I realized that I had not subscribed to a newspaper in about a decade, and that I retrieve all my news almost exclusively from reputable news organizations that offer their stories online. And I doubt that I’m alone here.

The new generation of readers knows virtually nothing of print publications. And for proof, I offer you a little anecdote. I asked middle school students, ages 10-13, what their favorite comic strip was. Peanuts, Shoe, Calvin & Hobbs, Fox Trot…those are my favorites. I spent Sunday mornings with my Cheerios and the Sunday comics and dreaded the moment when I felt compelled to read that stupid Family Circle.

“What’s a comic strip?” they all asked me. They did not know what one even LOOKED like.

Whoa. I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Good grief, Charlie Brown, someone ripped the ball away from me when I was about to punt.

Fortunately, the iPod and iPad can come to my rescue.

Students leap at the opportunity to whip out their iPods and iPhones to research materials and look up articles. A cart of iPads or iPod Touches would provide all students access to thousands of articles. News outlets such as AP News, NPR, USA Today, NY Times, and Guardian Eyewitness all offer their apps for free. And other apps such as Fluent News and News Pro are aggregate apps that pull news feeds from dozens of news outlets. Low-cost paid versions are emerging that allow consumers to select what news feeds they want, and the app creates a customized virtual newspaper complete with pictures, articles, and video. Gone are the days when a person had to purchase their local newspaper or pay for a costly subscription to the New York Times.

News Circulation

A fellow teacher of mine had a newspaper route as a young teen. He said about 85 percent of the houses on his bicycle route received the paper. Forty years later, papers are delivered by car because about 15 percent of households might have the paper delivered. That’s not to imply that no one is reading news anymore. According to the Newspaper Association of America, newspaper Web sites reached almost two-thirds of U.S. Internet users in Sept. 2010.

Teaching journalism

How might the reporting of information change to accomodate a digital package? The basic foundations of reporting don’t change, only the speed by which news must be assembled and disseminated. Feedback is instantaneous, as readers leave comments that take on social functions of their own. Readers are more impatient than ever, and just because reporters have unlimited writing space doesn’t mean they should use it. What makes information newsworthy remains the same: proximity, magnitude, relevance, timeliness, prominence, oddity, human interest … they all still pique the interest of readers.

Students still need to learn the basic tenets of interviewing, reporting, writing, and editing. The instructional paradigm shift occurs in publishing and infusing social media. With an iPod Touch, a student could record an interview, either by typing notes, recording an audio version, or videotaping the interview. They could type the story on the device, snap pictures, and upload them to a Web site. They could also create a podcast or edit a short video segment and upload them to a Web site. A whole classroom of students could do this simultaneously, then publish feedback on each other’s work. They could also upload articles and revise them collaboratively in real time.

Newspaper design has not changed much over the past 30 years, but online news design has. Early Web site builders experimented with tacky colors and confusing layouts. News media sites are much more streamlined, and the more user-friendly a page displays, the more readers it draws. Studies have shown readers in the 30+ age group read in a Z pattern, meaning they read left to right, on a diagonal, then left to right again. Teenagers read in an F pattern, meaning they scan the top and primarily the left side. The result: Look at a Facebook page and you’ll notice that the ads are on the right, and people rarely view those. Also, user menus are frequently found on the left and top portions of Web pages.

Should newspapers alter their design based on reading patterns? That’s tough to say, but instructors should show how to design a clean, organized Web page that caters to readers’ interests and viewing tendencies. Teachers should have discussions about when to create a video to tell the story rather than writing one. Top news stories belong in slots high up on a page, however, whether on a printed or digital page.

A teacher-centered approach might not be the best route with students at all times. Teens are shaping the way that news is being disseminated, and their knowledge matters, too.

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iPad VGA adapter severely limited

I wanted to purchase the VGA adapter for the iPad/iPhone 4, but the $29 thingamajig has a myriad of limitations, according to user reviews, and most of the apps won’t play. In Apple’s Q&A section on the user review page, the tech folks explain that it’s up to each app developer to write into the program code what will be displayed in a 2nd display. I interpret that as developers must enable the the app to be displayed and to behave as it does on the iPad screen.

If you “jailbreak” your iPad, however, there is an option that will allow you to display what’s on your iPad directly onto your projector screen. Available on Cydia, the app is called DisplayOut.

When I plug in my MacBook’s VGA adapter, the programs I use, what I type, and where I click all work and display just as they would on my laptop. Why wouldn’t I expect the same for the iPad VGA adapter? Also a problem is the cord’s skimpy 7-inch length. Users are also complaining that the adapter won’t work when plugged into longer cords. That’s a problem for educators like me whose projector is mounted to the ceiling.

Consumers who gave it a 5-star rating were those who use it for KeyNote presentations and photo slideshows. I recommend keeping your money until either Apple releases its own version of a DisplayOut app or more developers update their apps to make them more VGA friendly.

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Secondary students need more educational apps

Though there are some useful iPod/iPad apps for 6-12 classrooms, the selection is rather limited. Capitalism is hard at work in Apple’s App Store, and the vast majority of apps are geared toward the folks who are willing and able to cough up the cash for cool apps: parents with children under age 7, college students who need extra tutorials, and Generation (insert consonant here) adults who love touchscreen games that fill gaps of boredom.

What’s missing are educational apps for middle and high school age kids whose collective buying power also is considerable. Teens collectively spent $112.5 billion in 2003, according to a teen marketing profile. According to this marketing profile, teens also want control over their media experiences, advise their parents on small household purchases, and have access to instant messaging and cell phones. In today’s media market, that means access to a social network of thousands upon thousands with the rapid growth of Twitter and Facebook. In late 2009, a survey revealed that 88 percent of teens use social networks every day, with half spending an hour or more at it per day.

Companies aren’t seeing the immediate benefits of providing classroom-based apps for secondary students because they probably don’t believe teens will purchase the apps themselves or cajole their parents into purchasing them. For this they are tremendously short-sighted. Teens would much rather interact socially with books and articles on an iPod Touch or iPad rather than crack open a textbook that their school spent $150 for and won’t be updating years, maybe decades. Textbook companies could put their books online and include social networking apps, videos, and MP3s. Add notetaking and highlighting capabilities, an area for teachers to upload PowerPoints and notes, and the ability to customize their practice vocabulary, and they have a powerful sell. What teen wouldn’t urge their parents/school to spend $500 on a 1.5-pound device that holds everything they need for schoolwork as opposed to lugging around 20 pounds worth of tomes that they can’t write in and are about as exciting as watching mold grow on bread.

Perhaps what’s daunting for schools in this economy is to spend thousands for a product that is untested. But districts are seeing results — Escondido school district in California credits iPods for improved test scores, and groups that used iPods outperformed control groups without them. According to Apple’s site, reading fluency improved six times the normal rate within a six-week period for a group of English language learners at a school in that Escondido district. This year, Lynchburg City Schools are purchasing 800 iPod Touches with money from a federal Enhancing Education Through Technology grant in hopes of improving math and reading scores.

While Apple does have some information on its site regarding a few success stories with the devices, it needs to add more information regarding standardized test results. Rather than districts and teachers scrambling to find grant money, Apple could offer iPod Touches to some classrooms or small schools in exchange for test studies. Apple could even recruit universities to help facilitate them. Regarding apps themselves, Apple should provide schools with lists of apps for the elementary and secondary classrooms, including lists with free apps, apps under $2, and more costly ones. They should also provide these lists in their App Store. Apple has reps that cover districts, but information regarding the costs of implementing a classroom cart of these devices including lists of apps and textbooks, should be made more readily available to parents, teen consumers, and teachers.

Marketing to school districts is where textbook companies excel, and excel to the tinny tune of $5.2 billion in 2009 for K-12 textbooks. Textbook sales, however, were down about 14 percent in 2009. Overall, book sales are down a few percentage points, but ebook sales increased more than 176 percent in 2009, according to the Association of American Publishers. So publishers are still squeezing dollars out of starving districts. How? Districts, schools, and teachers get to know their reps who send them free samples and let them know what “wonderful” textbooks/tomes/workbooks are available to them.

Tapping into this billion-dollar market would be a wonderful revenue stream not only for Apple, but also for companies stepping up to provide product-savvy teens with the tools they need to succeed in a globalized world where knowing how to communicate masterfully, deeply comprehend texts, and create new technology are essential.

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