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Apple Ushers in a New Way of Learning with New Educational Apps

apple ipadLast week, Apple held a media event in New York City. At this event, the technology-gurus revealed their newest software programs, which could forever change the way that education takes place in the classroom. Currently, there are 1.5 million iPads that are being used in classrooms across the country. There are also more than 20,000 education and learning apps available in the app store. However, these numbers can both be expected to increase in the near future, thanks to the release of these new programs.

So what exactly did Apple announce? On January 19, 2012, Apple announced that it was updating the iBooks app, creating a new category of books in the iBookstore, and also releasing a DIY e-book creator. This means that there are now many more new tools that teachers and students can use in the classroom to learn.

Let’s take a look at all of the new options that Apple is offering to make learning even more interactive and technologically-based:

  • The new iBookstore will have a textbook category. These textbooks will be media-rich and interactive, allowing students to watch videos, play with diagrams, view pictures, and of course, read. These books will be available for students in grades K-12.
  • The new books available in iBooks 2 will have search options, making it easier to find what you are looking for in the index, glossary, dictionary, or the book itself. You will also be able to highlight important information in the books, a feature that many students find very useful.
  • Many of the books will feature a Question & Answer section at the end of every chapter. This will allow students to gauge how well they are learning the material and receive instant feedback on their progress.
  • The books on iBooks will cost $14.99 or less. This is much cheaper than traditional textbooks, which cost about $75 each. For schools that are facing budget cuts or need to save some cash, this will be a great way to do so.
  • A new app, iTunes U, will allow teachers to post their class syllabus, lectures, course assignments, and much more for students to see and access. This new app will allow teachers and students in grades K-12 use it; a previous version was only available for students at certain universities.
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Apple Could Announce New Distribution Platform for Digital Books

digital textbookIf you are an Apple fanatic like me, then you have probably heard that the company is holding a media event on Thursday, January 19, 2012. What is Apple releasing this time? According to ArsTechnica.com, the company will be announcing a new platform that will be the “GarageBand for e-books.” Basically, it will be a distribution platform for digital books and textbooks.

Although some makers of e-books claim that the process of making an e-book from a physical copy of a book is very simple, the truth is that the entire process can be very difficult and frustrating. This could all be changing very soon, if Apple does in fact announce a “GarageBand for e-books” software later this week.

Matt MacInnis worked for Apple until 2009, when he left the company and started his own company, Inkling, which creates digital textbooks. MacInis thinks that Apple is about to make it much easier to actually create these books.

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The Waldorf Schools Reject Technology in Favor of Hands-On Teaching Methods

student writing with a pen on lined paperWhat do the chief technology officer of eBay and important employees of various other Silicon Valley companies such as Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Yahoo have in common? The first answer would probably be that they are all technology-gurus. The second answer is that they all send their children to a school that uses pens, knitting needles, and mud as learning supplies but bans computers from school grounds.

Wait a second, doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive for these children to not be using computers in their classrooms? They live in Silicon Valley, their parents make a living by working with computers, and the world is becoming more and more reliant on computers. However, at Waldorf School of the Peninsula,  the ideology is that computers don’t mix well with schools.

There are 160 Waldorf schools in the USA that follow the philosophy that children should learn through physical activity and hands-on tasks. They also believe that computers are bad for children who are learning because the machines limit creative thinking, human interaction, movement, and attention spans.

“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, a parent of two children who attend Waldorf schools. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

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Steve Jobs’ Education Background

American business man Steve Jobs is probably best known for being the former CEO of Apple Inc. He has also served as the chief executive of Pixar Animation Studio and has served as a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company. On August 24, 2011, Jobs publicly announced his resignation from his job as the CEO of Apple and was then appointed chairman of the company’s board of directors. EDUinReview will now take a look at this creative man’s education background.

Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California. He was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs; the couple also adopted another child, Patti, who became Jobs’ sister. His biological parents are Abdulfattah Handali and Joanne Simpson, who later married and had another child, Mona Simpson.

Jobs graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, in 1972. While in high school, Jobs spent his free time attending various after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company, where he also worked with Steve Wozniak as a summer employee.

After high school, Jobs attended Reed College for one semester but then dropped out. In 1974, he started going to Homebrew Computer Club meetings with Wozniak and began working for Atari. He saved his money and then traveled to India with a college friend, Daniel Kottke. He returned from India and continued working at Atari.

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Samsung Releases the Galaxy, a Strong Competitor for Apple’s iPad

samsung galaxySo, you haven’t bought into the Apple frenzy and bought a new iPad? iPads are pretty cool devices that can be very useful for students. I have seen many students at my school who have switched from a heavy laptop to a lighter iPad to do their homework on campus, but, if you have not been impressed with the iPad and are holding out for something better, you will be pleased to hear that Samsung has released it’s own tablet computer- and this new tablet has some features that the iPad does not.

Samsung announced on September 23, 2010 that it would soon release it’s new tablet, the Galaxy. The Galaxy is a 7-inch touchscreen tablet, similar to the iPad. It will be available through Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Spring Nextel, and AT&T.

The Galaxy is an improvement over the iPad because it has two cameras – one that is front-facing and one that is back-facing. This allows users to use the Galaxy to  take pictures or possibly video-chat with other users. Read the rest of this entry »



Technology and Education: the iPad Project

Image courtesy of Fraiser Speirs

Images courtesy of Fraiser Speirs

The Cedars School of Excellence is a small school of 106 students, ages five to 17, located in Greenock, Scotland. Its small size means that students receive personalized attention and are encouraged to reach their highest potential. But the school is special for another reason: every student has an iPad.

Before the iPad’s release, the school toyed with the idea of getting an iPod touch for every student. It had became clear that there was more demand than the school’s existing 25 computers could accommodate. However, the iPods were quickly deemed infeasible, because they lack a word processing function.

When the iPad was announced, the school saw they had a solution. Frasier Speirs, a teacher at the Cedars School, implemented the project this summer. “There’s so much web-based material that’s very useful for teachers, even if they’re not particularly enamored of technology, they want a way to get to that material,” says Speirs. The school ordered 115 iPads at the start of August and the iPad Project began.

While some public high schools in the U.S. the have begun using iPads and Kindles in a few subjects, Cedars is among the first schools to implement the iPad across all subjects and grade levels. “Nobody’s declined to use them,” Speirs says of the other teachers. “Even slightly older teachers or teachers who are less comfortable with technology.”

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Steve Jobs Asks College Girl to “Please Leave Us Alone”

s-jobsIt’s well known that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has a public email address, and that he occasionally responds to emails from customers. Chelsea Isaacs is the author of one of the emails to which Jobs replied, but she doesn’t exactly count herself as lucky.

Chelsea, a senior at C.W. Post Long Island University, was writing a paper about the educational uses of the iPad. ABC reports that she had attempted to contact the Apple media relations department many times when she decided to shoot off a message to Jobs, mentioning that her paper was due the following day and crucial to getting a good grade in the class. Jobs responded within a half hour, with the message “Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry.”

Chelsea responded that she did not say that Apple should help her get a good grade (although she did imply it). “Rather I politely asked why your media relations team does not respond to emails.”

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California Schools Swap Textbooks for iPads

ipad-for-textbooksSix schools across four California school districts are testing a math curriculum that will feature iPads instead of textbooks. Four hundred iPads are being distributed to be used in Algebra classes. The schools are partnering with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which is providing the e-textbooks. Students to receive an iPad will be randomly selected, and their progress will be charted against students using traditional, bound textbooks.

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Free CourseSmart iPad App Helps You Find eTextbooks

CourseSmart-etextbooksCourseSmart is making it easier for you to find and use their e-textbooks on your iPad. They’re now offering an updated version of their free “eTextbooks” app. Not only does the app make it easy to find and purchase digital textbooks, it also has a virtual bookshelf where users can see the books they own and easily access them. It also has a sticky note feature, so students can take notes as they read.

Perhaps most importantly, the eTextbooks app has new navigation within the texts.  Students can use thumbnails of pages to quickly find what they need, avoiding the pain of scrolling though pages. CourseSmart says it gives students access to over 90 percent of all textbooks in use today, with download times of no more than five minutes to both computers and hand-held devices. Storing and using digital textbooks on a iPad or similar devices overcomes the inconvenience of having the book stored on a more unwieldy computer. Read the rest of this entry »



iPad Banned at Cornell, Princeton and George Washington University

ipadBefore the die-hard Apple fans get their wireless devices in a tizzy, hear them out. The universities actually make a somewhat fair point. While some universities are embracing the newest Apple gadget with free iPads for students, other schools say they are not welcome.

Princeton and George Washington University announced that they are banning the iPad from their campuses. Princeton and GWU cite security risks. A third university, Cornell, voices concern that students will monopolize the bandwidth available on the university’s network and is looking in to the issue.

Hmm, what about the laptops they are already using? It seems that the iPad is not compatible with security features on Cornell’s and GWU’s networks, and it’s not an issue they face with standard laptops which run operating systems like Windows or OS X. Read the rest of this entry »





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