Tag Archives: iPad

The Effectiveness of Smart Devices in the Classroom

by Hap Aziz

Although this is a topic that I’ve spent a lot of time going around and around on, I can keep this post relatively short by asking a single question, and then framing the conversation around it:

What is the proof, actual and definitive, that smart devices (such as iPads) have measurably positive impact–repeatable and repeated–on student learning outcomes at any level?

Honestly, I haven’t seen any such proof that indicates results obtained through the integration of the technology is possible only through the use of that technology. That’s a key consideration in my mind. For example, take a look at the article “Do iPads Really Improve Learning? Did you Miss Anything?” From the article:

From all the data, the tablet group scored 2.1 points higher than the control group on the Hearing and Recording Sounds in Words subtest. This is the only(1/10) statistically significant result from the first phase of the study. For this assessment, students listened to a dictated sentence and wrote it down, which measures students’ level of phonemic awareness and ability to represent sound with letters. ”One of the reasons that we may have seen a jump in that particular subtest is that the apps that we are using for literacy are directly connected to those skills,” said Sue Dorris, administrator at East Auburn Community School in the Auburn School District.

And then a little further in the article:

Mike Muir, Auburn School Department’s Multiple Pathways Leader, explained: “The objective has to be learning, not just getting the technology out there, we are paying attention to app selection and focused on continuous improvement — we aren’t just handing equipment to teachers.” “And the iPad implementation in Auburn was done very carefully, with the research component built in from the start, not added as an after-thought.

One could argue that the learning outcomes are not so much related to the implementation of any specific technology, but rather the outcomes are improved because of the improved and increased attention around the actual curriculum development to appropriately integrate iPad use in this case. If educators increased their level of curriculum preparation to the same extent, and if they increased the level of interaction with the students (i.e., “How are you doing in with this part of the course?” as opposed to “How are you doing with your use of the iPad?”), we could very well see the same level of outcome improvement.

However, stating that we can address learning challenges through the use of more elbow grease in the curriculum development and instructor-learner interaction processes is not nearly as glamorous as stating that the solution to our learning challenges lies in implementing a new one-student-one-device policy across the board.

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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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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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