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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 School: Napa New Technology High School

In Hotlist on December 19, 2009 at 4:56 am

BEST KNOWN FOR its wine-making region, this California city has also made a name for itself in education. Napa New Technology High School opened its doors in 1996 and has since graduated 756 students to an impressive list of top colleges and internships. Originally designed with help from the students themselves, the school follows a project-based learning model and its classrooms are steeply infused with technology while at the same time instilling core academics and a passion for deeper learning. More impressive is the resulting growth of a network of 41 schools across 9 states in urban, rural and suburban environments. But what’s really impressive are the student portfolios, which you can find here.

Hotlist: Top 10 Edtech Books of the Decade

In Hotlist on December 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm

by Victor Rivero

ALRIGHT, BRACE YOURSELF. These aren’t the be-all, end-all books that in and of themselves write the last word on and are the definitive tomes for everything to do with education and technology. What they are is a list of good reads over the last ten pivotal years through which forces in and around schools have begun to rapidly change how students learn. Some of them offer practical hope, others are decidedly more pessimistic and off-base, while still others take a lighter approach entirely. A few consider massive survey efforts, some are founded on whim; all of them shed light on the transformative force of technology on the minds of learners and leaders. One can only imagine what such a list of titles might contain in another ten years–or if people will still be publishing books as we know them. Any that I’ve left off? I can already think of several. Nominations welcome.

1 Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson (Corwin Press, 2006, 2009). One of the most practical books on this list, it’s a guide for educators who want to get beyond PowerPoint presentations and make learning using technology meaningful. Technology, of course, can do that–in the right hands. This book demonstrates how to collaborate in news ways and get the most out of learning with technology, and is written by someone who’s been there, done that and continues to do so. Amazon

2 Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser (Basic Books – Perseus Books Group, 2008). A thoughtful, high-level book that covers such heady areas as identity, privacy, safety, quality among other themes, it is at once provocative and timely. A must-read for school leaders as it stimulates the mind in ways that a more on-the-ground approach cannot do. But it goes there, too. Amazon

3 Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott (McGraw-Hill, 2009). The sequel to Tapscott’s Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation, this book offers up eight characteristics of Net Gen people and touches upon learners, workers, consumers and family in the age of Obama. Quotes Bob Dylan, discusses Obama’s election, holds your hand if your not in the 11-to-31 year old set and helps you to understand what’s happening in these days of thumb-tapping texters who will soon (and already do) rule the world. Amazon

4 Recapturing Technology for Education: Keeping Tomorrow in Today’s Classroom by Mark Gura and Bernard Percy (ScarecrowEducation, 2005). From the former head of technology for New York City Schools (Gura) and the editor in chief of an award-winning education magazine (Percy) comes an interesting and lighthearted look at instructional technology mixed with catchy quotes, formative phrases, and hard-won experience. It’s at once serious and lighthearted, filled with great stories and actionable advice. Amazon

5 Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson with a foreword by John Seely Brown (Teacher’s College – Columbia University, 2009). The authors take a big-picture view of history and our place in it currently–and what we need to do to rise above it and keep things moving in a direction we want them to be moving in. Raises some interesting questions about the direction of education in this country and beyond, offers an answer to “Why Education Reforms Fail” and offers up some strong suggestions for what to do about it all.  Amazon

6 The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30) by Mark Bauerlein (Penguin, 2008). There are some prominent education leaders who think this book is just plain wrong, and perhaps they are correct in assessing it as so, but it certainly stirs the pot. In fact, it might actually have a thesis that is completely reversible. But that’s for you to decide. In any event, with such a confrontational approach, it’s likely to get a strong reaction. What’s yours? Amazon

7 The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved by Todd Oppenheimer (Random House, 2003). When it came out in…well, what seems like a century ago, this book played devil’s advocate to a lot of the early hype connected with a new era of technology-infused learning. Now that the excitement has worn off a bit and technology in some areas is beginning to mature (not a lot, but some), this might be a good re-read. Suggesting a back-to-basics approach, the author isn’t necessarily against technology as it might seem–he’s just taking a more measured approach than some might like. Amazon

8 The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006). Not exactly an “edtech” book, it still deals with both education and technology in important and insightful ways and serves as a wake-up call to what global trends surround us, providing context for life outside the classroom. In the tradition of earlier business and political books such as Futureshock and Megatrends, it does a good job of sharing what could be boring facts and figures in not-so-sugar-coated stories that do well to make their points. Amazon

9 The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education by Curtis J. Bonk (Jossey-Bass, 2009). Kind of like The World is Flat for education, and in particular: lifelong online learning. Offers up ten key trends for understanding technology’s impact on learning, including web searching, blended learning, open course ware, online collaboration, networks and personalized learning and more. Amazon

10 What’s So Funny About Education? by Lou Fournier with illustrations by Tom McKeith (Corwin Press, 2003). An overlooked though important book with some seriously funny chapters, as easily digestible as they are thought-provoking in a cleverly satirical way. This is a fast read with great illustrations. The writing style is like no other, and will have you laughing out loud like a Dave Barry might do for you. If all the heaviness involved in the above-mentioned books has gotten to you, this is the perfect chaser, and you’ll want more when it’s done. Amazon


Victor Rivero is the Editor of EDTECH TOOLS. Write to:

© 2009 Victor Rivero. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. For permission to share or reproduce selections from this blog, email: OR just retweet it.

Hotlist: Top 10 edtech bloggers

In Hotlist on November 27, 2009 at 10:16 am

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PETE REILLY, ED TECH JOURNEYS. Pete is the past president of the New York State Association of Computers and Technology in Education (NYSCATE); New York State’s ISTE affiliate, an adjunct professor at New York Institute of Technology; and the founder of the Technology Leadership Institute, among other affiliations. His blog is heartfelt, sincere and powerful. Visit:   

KEN ROYAL, THE EDUCATORS’ ROYAL TREATMENT. Technology editor at Scholastic Administr@tor magazine, Ken is a veteran teacher with 34 years of classroom experience. He’s also been an instuctional technology specialist, has been honored as a teacher of the year numerous times and recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Catch him on video at the Scholastic site, or visit:

ALEXANDER RUSSO, THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION. Written by this journalist and former Senate education staffer, This Week in Education gives you the inside scoop on all the latest education news and politics. “Performance Management: Is There An App For That?” is but one example of Alexander’s style and tone: at once intellectually gentle yet skeptical, entertaining and provocative. Visit:

WILL RICHARDSON, WEBLOGG-ED. His approach: “There’s no doubt that a lot of our kids know more than we do about how to use technology. It’s really important that we keep up with the types of technologies that kids are using as it will be their grammar–how they construct their own meaning and learning.” A very smart teacher and communicator, Will speaks from experience about the blog-and-learning connection. Visit:

KATHY SCHROCK, KATHYSCHROCK.NET. Director of Technology for Nauset Public Schools on Cape Cod, MA, Kathy is somewhat famous in the edtech world if not for having been around for so long. An avid user of the Internet since 1993, she’s an expert in emerging technologies as well as using technology as a tool to support instruction. Her Guide for Educators grows daily and is hosted by Discovery Education. Visit:

ANDY CARVIN, PBS TEACHERS LEARNING.NOW. A seasoned world-traveler, founding editor of the Digital Divide Network, founder of WWWEDU (the Internet’s oldest education forum), he is a former board member for the Consortium for School Networking and has published extensively from more than 20 countries through his blog, “Andy Carvin’s Waste of Bandwidth”.  Visit:  

LISA NIELSEN, THE INNOVATIVE EDUCATOR. Gotta love someone who pushes for a practice-what-you-preach approach: “21st-century educators don’t say, ‘hand it in’. They say, ‘publish it!’” she writes in one post on her very richly-populated blog. Offering examples, resources and useful content with a sense of humor and a purpose to get learning done, Lisa is a technology innovation manager for NYC DOE. Visit:

ANDREW ROTHERHAM, EDUWONK. A bit of a stretch to call him an edtech blogger, but if you’re blogging about education these days, technology is no doubt a strong component. Andrew is co-founder and publisher of Education Sector, an independent national education policy think tank. He’s been described in different ways by many people as being witty, on top of trends, and at the forefront of US education policy. Visit:  

DAVID WARLICK, 2 CENTS WORTH. An educator for more than 30 years, he’s now a consultant and innovator at The Landmark Project, and his Landmarks for Schools site enjoys more than half a million visits a day with some of the most popular resources for teachers available anywhere on the Internet. He’s a great speaker with a contagious enthusiasm for learning. Catch him at:

TED, IDEAS WORTH SPREADING. Alright, this isn’t really a blog at all–and TED isn’t really a person’s name; it’s an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design. But if you haven’t already stumbled upon this site, I challenge you to find a more intellectually and spiritually inspiring place on the Internet. For the same reasons you are looking for a good blog, spend a few minutes with one of the riveting speakers here. Visit: