Monthly Archives: July 2011

Create an eTextbook

This post is for educators who are looking for a viable eTextbook to use in a math or science classroom. CK-12 gives you the tools to easily create your own customized textbooks…FOR FREE!

I teach in a small rural school district with limited financial resources, and this website has given me hope that we could someday replace 10lb paper textbooks with tablet computers.

Visit CK-12’s website.

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Tennessee school requires students to carry iPads

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Students in grades 4-12 who attend the Webb School of Knoxville, a private boarding school in Tennessee, will be required to carry an iPad to class during the 2012 school year. Students may use an iPad that they already own, purchase an iPad on their own, or lease an iPad through the school. The three year lease will include a 16GB wifi iPad 2 and a 3 year maintenance plan and will cost $230/year. The lease can be paid in a lump sum at the beginning of each year , or in 10 installments per year. At the end of the lease, the iPad belongs to the student.

Webb says that etextbooks will not be available in all classes, but the iPad will be use more as a tool to replace paper and pencil or as a supplement to the traditional text.

I’m looking foreword to following the progress of Webb’s iPad for every student program and Grandview R-2 High School’s Android tablet for every student program.

Here’s how the two program’s compare:
Webb: Private school in Knoxville, TN
Grandview: Public School in Hillsboro, MO

Webb: Adopting 9.7″ Apple iPad
Grandview: Adopting the Coby Kyros 7″ Android tablet (not sure which model)

Webb: Students pay for iPads and apps and the iPad belongs to the student after the 3 year lease
Grandview: The school pays for the Android tablets and apps and the students can purchase their tablet for a discounted price when they graduate

Webb: Not rushing to adopt etextbooks for all classes
Grandview: Appears to be adopting FlexBooks in place of traditional textbooks for core classes

What I like about Webb and Grandview is that they are not only utilizing these tools in the classroom, but giving every student the opportunity to use these tools at home. Webb and Grandview are pioneers with this type of tech in school and I’m anxious to hear about their successes as well as how they deal with problems that arise.

For mor information see:

Webb School of Knoxville iPad Program

and

Grandview R-2 Android Tablet Program


Samsung Series 5 Chromebook vs iPad 2

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Earlier this summer, I was torn between which gadget to replace my netbook with:
•A more powerful ultraportable laptop, like a 13″ MacBook Air or Acer TimelineX
•The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook
•The iPad 2

Cost concerns eliminated the ultraportables from consideration, so let’s focus on the Series 5 w/ Wifi & 3G and the 16GB iPad 2 w/ Wifi only.

Now, this may seem like we’re comparing apples to oranges, but both of these system are priced at $499, and were in competition for my money.

Storage
Series 5: 4GB, with documents and music stored online and Apps are web based. There is also an SD card slot.
iPad 2: 16GB, with documents, music, and apps stored locally on the device. However, storage is becoming less of a concern for iOS devices with the arrival of services like Dropbox. In addition to that, a new feature of iOS is online backup of iTunes and App Store purchases – so you can download apps and music that you’ve purchased when you need them, delete them when you are done, and re-download as needed.
***In my case, this category was a tie, but I don’t require a lot of local storage.

Design and Portability
***I like the design of both devices – large enough to meet my needs, yet still portable.

Productivity
Series 5: Google Docs has evolved into a very capable office suite for a math and science teacher (like me). The only strike against Google Docs is that you can’t work off-line (though this may change in the near future).
iPad 2: iWork is a nice, simple office suite for educators. I don’t get bogged down in a bunch of features that I don’t use. The main strike against iWork is that it’s word processor lacks an equation editor – a must have for a math and science teacher.
***I lean toward the iPad 2 in this category because there wasn’t a way to work in Google Docs off-line, but I was able to work around iWorks lack of an equation editor with an app called MathBot.

Battery Life
series 5: 8.5 hrs
iPad 2: 10 hrs
***iPad 2 takes this category.

Connectivity
Series 5: Wifi and 3G, with 100GB of free data per month from Verizon – that’s awesome!
iPad 2: Wifi only
***At the $499 price point, the series 5 wins this category, with the free data making this a very compelling device.

As you know, I chose the 16GB iPad 2 with Wifi because I was concerned about not being able to work on documents off-line. I considered the 3G version of my iPad, but in the end, Wifi connectivity is sufficient for me. On rare occasions that Wifi is not available, I can use iWork on on my iPhone. We will see how well the iPad works as my primary home computer for the 2011-2012 school year.


I’m liking iCloud so far…

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I like the Beta features that have been released so far:
•Purchase histories in iTunes and the App Store. This allows music and apps purchased on one device to be downloaded to all other devices without having to sync with your computer.

The features that are coming this fall sound good:
•Automatic backup and restoration.
•Syncing documents wirelessly across all devices.

The calendar and contacts apps will also be able to sync wirelessly across all devices, but I’m curious to see how this will work in my situation. My daughter and I each have an iPhone on the same iTunes account with our own calendars and contacts. We’ll see I guess.

I’m kind of indifferent to the photo stream feature.

For mor information see:  iCloud


Missouri school replaces textbooks with Android tablets

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Instead of issuing textbooks to its high school students this fall, Grandview R-2 School District in Hillsboro, Missouri will issue Coby Kyros tablets. These Android tablets have a 7″ resistive touch screen, and students can download textbooks in PDF format from the school’s website:
Grandview High School

The school district piloted this tablet program last year with a sampling of students and faculty using Haipad’s Android tablet. It appears that both groups support the switch to a near paperless program. I’m glad the school decided to go with the Coby Kyros. From the video reviews that I have watched, the Coby tablet appears to be a higher quality device.

Since I’m a high school math and science teacher who loves gadgets, I’m looking forward to following this story.


The phone companies ruined my dream gadget…

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…by disabling the phone feature! Let me explain: I had been using a “dumb” phone for a couple of years, since my daughter broke my Cingular 8125. She felt terrible, and I decided that having all my gadgets consolidated into one device was too risky. My mother-in-law gave me her old Motorola Razor and I bought a Palm T|X, a Kindle 2, an Apple iPod Nano, and a Sony Cyber-Shot T90. It took all these gadgets to replace my smartphone (I accumulated these over time).

Then in the fall of 2010 I read that Samsung was getting ready to release a 7″ Android Tablet in Europe: The Galaxy Tab. I watched a video ad and was hooked. I had always thought the iPad would be too big for my use. This 7″ tablet seemed perfect:
•Nice styling
•Beautiful, durable, responsive screen
•Portable
•Android OS and market
•Wifi / 3G connectivity
•Integrated speaker phone

I read every article about the Galaxy Tab, watched every video, and memorized every spec. I was getting one of these! As the Tab was released in Europe and Australia, the prices seemed high compared to the iPad, but you could get it cheaper if you purchased a data contract. The rumor was that all three major US carriers would be selling the Tab.

So, here was my plan:
1) Buy a Galaxy Tab along with voice and data contracts from AT&T.
2) Get a Bluetooth headset or earbuds with a microphone since the Tab only had a speaker phone.

Well, the US phone companies blew my plans out of the water when they decided to disable the phone feature.

When I had my first smartphone, you weren’t required to buy a data plan, so I didn’t. The only reason I considered getting the Tab with a data plan is that I would use it as a smartphone.

To this day, I wonder why the US carriers decided to go that route – the phone is still in there, just disabled!

I ended up getting an iPhone 4 instead, and have been very happy with it…and, last month I bought an iPad 2 ( wifi only).


My favorite show!

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While browsing Netflix a few nights ago, I came across the 2010 series “Sherlock” from the BBC. I’m a big Arthur Conan Doyle fan – I like the Sherlock Holmes short stories the most. However, no television program or motion picture that I have seen has captured the magic of Doyle’s written words.

Listen to this description of BBC’s Sherlock:
“Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson’s adventures in 21st Century London. A thrilling, funny, fast-paced contemporary remake of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic.”
and…
“The iconic details from Conan Doyle’s original books remain – they live at the same address of 221b Baker Street, have the same names and, somewhere out there, Moriarty is waiting for them.”

If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes or CSI, or any of the contemporary crime dramas, you’ve got to check out this program:  Sherlock