Monthly Archives: August 2011

Backpack…check…Lunch box…check…iPad…check!

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This is an exciting time in the history of education to be a student or teacher. I’m a gadget fanatic, and this feels like the golden age of tech toys (…I mean tools) for learning.

Students who are heading off to college have a number of tech options for buying or renting textbooks: CourseSmart, Inkling, Kno, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the list goes on.

Some lucky Junior High and High School students will get to use a new textbook app in math this year. Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt released its first full textbook app for the iPad called HMH Fuse: Algebra 1, and a Geometry text is also in the works. Check out my review:

I think tech toys make any job more enjoyable. I’ve spent my summer break using my phone, tablet, netbook, and desktop to prepare for the upcoming school year. My preparations have included researching teaching strategies, writing curriculum, and lesson planning. If I had to do any of these tasks without my tech, it would be a major chore.

I hope these tech tools and apps are as helpful and engaging for today’s students as they have been for me.

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Using the iPad, or any tablet, as an eTextbook

If you’ve ever watched a news story about iPads in the classroom, you probably saw elementary school students playing educational games to supplement their textbooks and instruction. Traditional textbook publishers are beginning to design apps that take the place of the textbook and have the educational games and video demonstrations built in.

While this approach seems like a wonderful idea for younger students, I believe there is a simpler alternative for older students.

At the high school and college level, I don’t think an app based textbook would be successful because it would require students and teachers to use a specific device. In my opinion, eTextbooks will catch on and be more successful if they are able to be viewed on a variety of devices (desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablets, and smartphones) running various operating systems.

One of the problems with traditional textbooks is that they have tried to become a “one-stop-shop” of information for the student. As a result, textbooks today have become too large and expensive to be practical. I believe that textbooks publishers are about to make that same mistake with eTextbooks.

Here’s an example of an Algebra app.

Apps like this lock you into one device. Students at this level (with help from the teacher if necessary) should be learning to recognize when they need to find supplemental information and apps and then utilizing their resources to find that information. Let me know what you think.