Category Archives: iBooks

Recorded Lectures in the Face-to-Face Environment

by Dr. Suzanne Kissel

Most instructors who teach face-to-face in higher education, especially those who tend to have fewer 30 students in a class have long held that recorded classroom events would add little benefit in terms of learning.  Indeed, the greatest fear is that learners would use the recorded events as an opportunity to skip class, erasing all possibility of their productively interacting with the instructor and other learners.

However, if used appropriately, this technology can increase learning through improving student ability to interact with each other and course materials.  Just consider the following technologies and teaching practices that make this possible:

  • Interactive and Collaborative Notetaking:  Many of the lecture capture systems available today allow learners to take notes specific to a certain point within the presentation.  Learners can then refer back to their notes when studying or participating in a classroom discussion.

    This capability is only enhanced when presentations are included as part of online course materials.  For presentations imbedded within an iAuthor textbook, learners can interact with the materials by making printable notes.  Learners can also email contextualized questions to the instructor or to other learners.  Moreover, if presentations are published in an online platform such as GoodSemester, students can instantly share their notes with the instructor or other learners, in addition to making comments on notes posted by others.   Not only does this benefit the student, it also gives instructors vital, lasting information student interaction with the material.  This allows instructors to better tailor lectures and materials for future classes.

  • More Classroom Time for Face-to-Face Interaction:  Through making materials, including recorded lectures and presentations available online, instructors gain more time for interactive discussions in their classrooms.  Presentations that can be made available consist of not only lectures, but also tutorials for lab work, presentations by guest speakers, and demonstration of complex procedures. Moreover, students can access these materials from virtually anywhere and anytime.  Recent surveys, such as that conducted by Fernandez, Simo and Salan as part of their article entitled Podcasting: A new technological tool to facilitate good practice in higher education, have found that students respond well to this flexibility.
  • Better Retention of Class Concepts:  Although not directly related to interaction, students feel that offering lecture recordings (both audio and video) benefits their ability to learn and retain class concepts.   Numerous studies report that students overwhelmingly feel that reviewing recorded material had a positive effect on their exam grades.  Research done with undergraduate general psychology students shows that those who had access to recorded materials and took notes while accessing them scored significantly higher than those learners without access.

This brings us to one of the issues that instructors cite for not making lecture and presentation materials available to learners – the fear that they will use this as an excuse not to attend class.  However, an excellent article published only last year, entitled Lecture Capture: A Guide to Effective Use, compiles a convincing display of evidence to show that learners view electronic materials as an excellent opportunity to review new concepts.   Although some learners accessed materials directly following the class session, the majority of learners reviewed the recordings right before the exam.

Another reason that instructors cite is the difficulty of recording presentations and the need to frequently revise them; however, audio and video podcasts can be easily created outside the classroom.  Classroom-based recordings can be made with the investment in one of the many automated lecture capture systems.

In short, a technology that seems that it would decrease interactivity within the classroom, actually can be seen to enhancement.  That enhancement only becomes magnified through the capabilities of new publishing systems for electronic media, such as iAuthor.  Indeed, this is the wave of the future and an essential means for reaching today’s learner.


Filed under education, education technology, face-to-face instruction, iBooks, online education, Suzanne Kissel, technology

Is iAuthor a Learning Management System?

By Dr. Suzanne Kissel

This was the question I found myself asking this weekend as I attempted to move my robust ENG 201: Writing About Literature course into the format.  Compare iAuthor to any LMS feature list and the application fails, miserably.  It doesn’t have a gradebook, discussion forum or chat; it isn’t designed to integrate with any SIS or offer any sort of Single Sign On capabilities.  In fact, it doesn’t take long to realize that comparing iAuthor to any LMS on the market is like comparing apples to oranges — quite as frustrating and quite as futile.

Of course, iAuthor isn’t meant to be an LMS.   It’s an alternative; not a competitor.   iAuthor takes one aspect of putting a course online and does it extremely well.  It manages content.  This makes sense as that is what iAuthor is meant to do.  Arguably, iAuthor puts content online better than any LMS out there.

There’s definitely a learning curve.  After a short weekend investment, I had all of my pre-written content divided into sections and up in an iAuthor template.  The table of contents was created automatically and the use of styles allowed me to change all of the formatting in a single swoop.  This is also one of the main attributes of the template.  Much more time would be required to make my course content unique and a true showcase, but the time I invested was a good enough start.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what the iAuthor interface looks like and what I was able to do in about five hours over the weekend:

In doing one thing, and doing it extraordinarily well, iAuthor exposes another chink in the armor of the traditional LMS.   There are single products out there for almost every function of the LMS; they do it and do it better.   This is one reason why some contend that the days of the LMS are numbered.  iAuthor does a great job of presenting content, even more so because it allows for the seamless incorporation of Creative Commons and other open materials.

However, the reason why iAuthor’s powers of disruption are limited is that it is tied to the iPad.  In order to invest the time it takes to learn the full capabilities of iAuthor, you had better be sure that your students have access to this technology.  As far as academic use is concerned, the fate of one seems tied to the fate of the other.  All we can do now, is to keep testing the viability of the iAuthor + iPad in the classroom to see if the utility of the two together is enough to overcome the cost.

In the coming months, we will be posting on one experiment of designing a course on iAuthor and using that course in the face to face classroom.  Stay tuned… it’s going to be an exciting ride!

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Filed under eBooks, education course content, education technology, iBooks, Learning Management Systems, online education, Suzanne Kissel

From eBooks to iBooks: Apple Repositions Itself in the Education Space

Dr. Suzanne Kissel provides thought leadership to a number of higher education institutions in the Teaching & Learning areas. She has been in instrumental in developing Academic Technology Strategies for colleges and universities throughout the United States, and she provides valued leadership in program development, academic assessment, and strategic planning. Suzanne joins the Learning Through Play & Technology blog with her first post here on Apple’s announcements of the day regarding the education market.

Upon hearing the word eBook, most students and faculty members imagine lines of text with an intermittent picture or two.  Purchase models for these books vary, with some available for lease.  Despite a decent amount of hype in 2011, eBooks had what can best be described as a very uneven reception in pilot programs across the United States.

In a much anticipated announcement, Apple positioned itself to make the eBook story a very different one in 2012.

Speaking from the Guggenheim Museum, Apple representatives announced two new applications.  The updated version of Apple’s popular iBook application, iBooks2 is free and available from the app store beginning today.  The other of the two applications, iBooks Author, allows any interested party to easily create interesting, interactive iPad lessons.  Rather than simply putting a book on the screen, iBooks Author allows authors and publishers to harness the multimedia advantages of the tablet to transform text into experience.  For instance, learners can electronically “mark up” their iPad books and keep those annotations, along with the books, after the conclusion of the course.

In addition to the two applications, Apple announced that it was expanding iTunesU beyond the realm of higher education to reach into elementary and high schools.

Apple iPad with iTunesU – Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS

To support this initiative, Apple has formed partnerships with Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  These three publishers are responsible for 90 percent of the textbooks used with courses taught in the U.S.  In addition, DK. Publishing, which offers vividly colored books for younger readers is also joining the team.

The promise of this announcement is that it could pave the way for the release of highly customized, interactive, and inexpensive textbooks.  According to Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief, the new, interactive iPad books would cost $14.99.  Whether the low cost of the textbooks could outweigh the comparatively high cost of the iPad itself (beginning at $499) remains to be seen.  Regardless, the announcement certainly pulls the eBook to the foremost of the new advances promising to change the face of education.

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Filed under eBooks, education, education course content, education technology, iBooks, technology