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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:


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.

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

Cool Tool: Cinemin Swivel

In Cool Tools on December 19, 2009 at 11:18 pm

SOUNDS LIKE SOMETHING A Starbuck’s barista might try to upsell you on after you order your latte, as in: “Would you like a cinemin swivel with that today?” But you’ve got to pull the word apart a bit more to get the true idea. Think: cine as in cinema and min as in miniature. Yes, this is a mini-movie projection device about the size of a candy bar, or as the–that’s right–WowWee company likes to say, a “multimedia pico projector that makes it amazingly simple to show and share movies, videos, photos, games and slides.” In other words, if you have something cool trapped on your computer, iphone or other electronic device, you can plug it in to the cinemin swivel and beam it onto any surface to set it free. Changes show and tell, changes giving an example of something in class–changes a lot of things. For $299, it’s a pretty sweet deal. Eat it up in this video.

Cool Tool: Teachers TV

In Cool Tools on December 17, 2009 at 8:40 pm

THIS IS ONE COOL SITE! In the old days, a teacher might have walked down the hall to an AV room or into a closet of the library, and looked through a small collection of VHS tapes for a title that seemed relevant enough in order to get some helpful hints on teaching. And that was their professional development video. If they were lucky, they might pass another teacher in the hall who might have a moment to impart a word of advice or encouragement. That was then, this is now. Engaging videos, practical resources and an active online community are three reasons to flock to this dynamic treasure trove of practical professional development resources and learning tools. The cleanly aesthetic and well-organized website has only one catch: it’s based on the other side of the pond, in London, England. But the world is flat, is it not? See if it’s useful for you here.

Cool Tool: Education World

In Cool Tools on December 14, 2009 at 11:55 pm

EDUCATORS COULD JUST start at Google and type something in, but if they used Education World as a home base, then finding stuff might just be a little more relevant to their exact needs and wants. It’s not just a search engine, though. A long time ago, in a place called Earth-without-the Internet circa 1996, the founders of this home for educator’s on the Internet set out to provide a starting point for lesson plans, practical information, tech integration how-to, useful articles, employment listings, professional development, marketplace news and information and much more. The best way to find out if they are accomplishing what they set out to achieve (helping educators, parents and anyone in and around schools) is to go there and see for yourself. Parent company is a learning management solution provider. Check out Education World

Cool Tool: One Laptop Per Child XO-1

In Cool Tools on December 5, 2009 at 4:41 pm

SURE, IT’S BEEN AROUND for the last four years ever since Nicholas Negroponte introduced a prototype to the world deftly positioning himself and the device with Kofi Annan (and thus the United Nations) at the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia. But what’s happened since that time? By the end of 2009, the One Laptop Per Child’s “XO-1” should surpass 1 million units deployed. Nearly all deployments are in 1:1 ratios, just like the nonprofit 501-c3 OLPC’s name says. Entire countries (Uraguay, Peru and next Rwanda) have been saturated with it, and its introduction has ignited a whole new, billion-dollar market (netbooks are now 20 percent of all portable computer sales). After weathering the recession, what’s next for these durable little neo-dynabooks? Stay informed at One Laptop Per Child News or go straight to the One Laptop Per Child Website.

Cool Tool: Amazon Kindle

In Cool Tools on December 2, 2009 at 5:05 pm

SHOULD SCHOOL DISTRICTS purchase the Amazon Kindle en masse and save millions on textbooks, classic novels and even copy paper? Or should they wait for the rumored Apple Tablet to be released and pay matching funds to any student who wants to get one? Some of the best books ever written are in the public domain–this means that schools could save massive amounts by simply purchasing the Kindle and loading it with everything from Biology, Chemistry and Physics to Honors English and Catcher in the Rye. Holds 1500 books; 300,000 of the most popular books, magazines and newspapers are available on it; wireless delivery in less than 60 seconds; long battery life. What do you think? The Kindle 2 from Amazon costs $259. Read All About It

Cool Tool: Response Card

In Cool Tools on November 30, 2009 at 11:44 pm

CUE THE JEOPARDY THEME SONG and watch the students begin to think. Polling software, response keypads (pictured) and a response receiver will set any speaker-audience scenario up for instant formative assessment and frequent progress monitoring–in other words, this stuff can turn a classroom into an academic gameshow. Is it really possible to actively engage a classroom full of students like never before? Turning Technologies is a company that started in 2002. Five years later, Inc. Magazine ranked them the fastest-growing privately held software firm in the country and 18th fastest overall (revenue-wise). There must be something to creating an interactive immediate-response system that really does boost student achievement. Click This for Your Final Answer