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TRENDS: edtech digest

In Trends on July 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm

CHECK OUT THIS COOL NEW education technology magazine featuring cool tools, in-depth interviews and timely trends. edtech digest


Top 10 Reasons iPad Will Change Education

In Cool Tools, Hotlist, Trends on April 16, 2010 at 11:58 am

by Victor Rivero

THERE’S A LOT OF BUZZ about the iPad “revolutionizing” education. Revolution is a word that conjurs up musket-grabbing minutemen and quick change, or at least an iconic Beatles song and muddy, Woodstock-sized crowds seizing the day and ushering in a new era.

Over the last decade, there’s been more of a fast-moving evolution ushered in by new technologies (Internet, broadband, Web 2.0, social networking happened quickly, but not overnight) than an actual in-the-streets, coup d’etat revolution.

However, the recent release of the iPad, and its potential for creating a paradigm shift in education is a milestone that will be looked back on with some head-shaking agreement that it was, in fact, quite a remarkable device for its time (even if scientist and thinker Alan Kay envisioned a similar machine nearly 40 years back and plenty of other companies have come up with similar tablets in the past decades).

The iPad is undeniably different, and like it or not, here are ten reasons why the iPad is more than just a pretty, over-hyped, tech-toy distraction and will continue to ripple out further changes for education and learning.


Beanbag Theory. With the beanbag theory of education, learning occurs better in a slightly relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. An austere lecture room might do better to open up to sunlight and cushions. The iPad caters to a creative crowd. Why? It’s “beanbag-friendly” as Jeffrey Young argues in this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education.


It’s Elementary, My Dear. If you haven’t already seen this, you probably will. It’s the Susan Boyle moment of Science Education, and it’s nearly alchemy in itself: take a yawn-inducing alpha-numeric chart that is the antithesis of sexy. Behind the scenes, ensure it can really sing. Then, put it out there for the world to see and watch the raised eye-brow reactions ripple across science labs everywhere creating murmurs of astonishment. If, as a student, you thought you couldn’t stand chemistry, you haven’t seen this Periodic Table.


The Edu-App Tsunami. Less than two weeks old and already more than a 1,000 education-related apps for the iPad? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Judging from the iPhone and iPod apps counts, there’ll be a million more before the end of the year. And that’s good news for education. Ride the wave here.


New Chapter for Textbook Publishers. McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, Pearson, Kaplan – all the big boys of the publishing industry aren’t waiting for more dust to collect on the pages of their textbooks. They’re striking deals with third-party service providers to develop the future of textbooks. Changes in education that have been being talked about for a quarter of a century are now on the brink of happening for real. Turn the page of history here.


e-Read All About It. What is a book, really? You’ve got to think about it from a conceptual standpoint, and then re-make that idea of a “book” using materials that offer a much different experience than paper and glue. There are unexpected ramifications to this, but the net gains outweigh the losses. Read all about it here.


Kids Love It. Aww, now this is cute. But it’s not just cute. It’s actually a very interesting reality that never would have occurred in the early days of IBM when men in suits stood in ticker-tape rooms asking questions to monsters with names like ENIAC. This video just goes to show that even a two-year old can use an iPad, and they don’t even need your help.


Companies Like CourseSmart. The people behind this company believe there’s a better way to study – or at least a new way to cash in on a better way to study. The CourseSmart Tablet Concept is something to see, and CourseSmart’s eTextbooks for the iPad is live on the iTunes store and available for download. Every college student now has access to 10,000 of the most widely-adopted textbooks. Say good bye to bookbag-induced scoliosis and lower back pain. Say hello to a lot more iPad-compatible companies like this one.


Hello, Hello! In fact, say hello twice to this leading language learning firm offering an interactive, connected experience that they believe takes language learning to the next level. For $4.99, you can get yourself a complete Spanish course developed in collaboration with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Interact with native speakers, get help from flashcards, hear the language, search items easily. Talk about learning a new language on the go!


It Just Feels Good. There were other tablets before the iPad. Why is the iPad so special? It kinda boils down to something that certainly has a lot of technology behind it, but is very un-technical when said aloud: “It just feels good.” For an idea of how good, get an iPad yourself, or have a good TIME reading about it here.


The X Factor. There are most likely more than a handful of reasons why the iPad will change, in a big way, the experience we call “education”. This last item on the list is for you to decide. If it’s any help, google “ipad for education” and you’ll turn up “about 25,500,000” results.


Victor Rivero is the editor of Edtech Tools. Victor has been the editor or contributing editor to a number of national education and technology publications, has toured the country with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and writes white papers, case studies and web content for various companies marketing to the education sector. Write to:

Trends: STEM Education – From Sputnik to the 22nd Century

In Trends on March 31, 2010 at 2:15 pm

SPUTNIK WAS SO LONG ago—more than 50 years have since lapsed—that most students in today’s schools would have no idea what it means. Try it—ask them, “What does sputnik mean?” If they say, “I don’t know,” have them make something up that’s believable. The responses would be interesting. It’s also interesting then that “STEM Education: From Sputnik to the 22nd Century” by noted futurist David Thornburg comes out in 2010 and we are still referring to the need for a “Sputnik Moment” and longing for something to spur great excitement and change in education. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics could certainly use a boost, something to launch students forward into these areas of study and work. Thornburg attempts to provide insight into the reasons inquiry-driven project-based learning is especially powerful to this end, and he is a meticulous writer, deftly framing the history and providing solutions with great care for what happens next in education. For a look at a Thornburg paper on the same thing, read this. To order your copy of the book, click here.

Trends: “The Class”

In Trends on February 10, 2010 at 8:52 pm

THIS VIDEO IS HILARIOUS! For any fans of “The Office” — you’ll immediately recognize the ironic realism and ultimately hopeful hopelessness that permeates the atmosphere in this smartly done take on where technology is at in today’s classrooms. You may be shaking your head and rolling your eyes in agreement to many of its cracks on the state of “21st century learning” —and even as it borrows from a well-known show—it’s still a refreshing and original six minutes that goes by almost as quickly as the last decade did. Cheers to the Denver University Innovation Class that produced it! Sure, not all classes are like this one—but it certainly hits hard on many different levels. Notice the 12,871 views in the above screen capture—guaranteed to go up from there. Just how much? Well, see for yourself when you, too, view ‘The Class’.

Cool Tool: Interwrite Mobi

In Cool Tools on February 9, 2010 at 4:35 pm

WHEN YOU SEE THIS TOOL in action, it looks a little bit like magic. Imagine a teacher walking amongst his students and carrying a tablet, and what he writes immediately appears on a large screen in the front of the classroom. The teacher can lean in and, on a small scale, show a student one-on-one what he means—but the rest of the class can simultaneously follow along with what they’re talking about on a larger scale. Quite ingenious, and it comes with a CPSPulse (a handheld “clicker” resembling a remote control) that allows students to have an instant feedback system for pop quizzes, or in eduspeak, this student response system enables a classroom to generate seamless formative assessments for improved learning and to instantly assess comprehension. In reality, students are so engaged they won’t want to pass notes behind the teacher’s back—if only because he’s no longer writing on a chalkboard at the front of the room, and they’re too occupied with learning that’s actually fun. Check out a video of it here.

Trends: PBS/Grunwald Digitally Inclined

In Trends on February 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm

FROM PBS AND GRUNWALD ASSOCIATES LLC comes the seventh Annual PBS Survey of Education Media & Technology, “Digitally Inclined”. Conducted by Grunwald Associates, the study examines K-12 educators’ use of and attitudes towards media and technology. This year’s survey includes Pre-K educators as well. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of K-12 educators say they use digital media, up significantly from 69 percent in 2008. Of K-12 teachers who use digital media in the classroom, 80 percent are frequent or regular users. Classroom use of digital media is less common among preK-educators, with only one-third (33 percent) reporting use. However, preK educators who use digital media use it as frequently as K–12 teachers do. Also of note: K-12 teachers increasingly access video online. While teachers narrowly prefer using purchased or recorded DVDs, 72 percent told us they stream or download content from the Internet, up from 65 percent in 2008. About one in three (29 percent) pre-K educators use this method. Read the whole report, if you’re so inclined.

Cool Tool: Apple’s iPad

In Cool Tools on January 27, 2010 at 1:44 pm

IT’S HERE! The long-rumored, much-anticipated Apple tablet is now finally here. Apple’s iPad is at least as good as what tech speculators thought it would be. Hitting the ground running with 140,000 apps, this new category of tool will likely see more than a million apps for everything imaginable before the end of 2010. But how will education factor in? Like software for the PC in the 1990s, there may be no end to academic-oriented applications. And you can bet they’ll be so much more user-friendly—and just plain fun. A new industry is born – apps for the iPad – and an important subset of that industry will no doubt be the academic tools that we are about to see roll out, not to mention the straightforward interesting content for lifelong learners in the form of books, periodicals and other content. So now that there’s a widely agreed-upon platform, is content once again king? And who will develop it? Seems that’s where the future is going: how to present authentic content in its most attractive, rich and interesting form so as to make learning easy and truly pleasurable. What do you think? Hear from the people at Apple who made it happen.

Cool Tool: OLPC XO-3

In Cool Tools on January 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

JUST AS IT DID FOR NETBOOKS, the OLPC XO may now do for tablets. From Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child nonprofit organization, whose mission is to help provide every child in the world access to a modern education, comes the child-centric X0-3 tablet. This unbreakable, single slender sheet of plastic captures the imagination, but students, educators and industry watchdogs won’t have to imagine it for very much longer–it will be available in 2012 and at a target price below $100. Earlier versions of the OLPC devices have already been distributed to 1.4 million children in 35 countries and in 25 languages. “To fulfill our mission of reaching 500 million children in all remote corners of the planet, OLPC will continue to innovate in design and performance,” says Negroponte, OLPC founder and chairman. “Because we are a non-profit, we hope that industry will copy us.” Check it out