During its education event in January, Apple unveiled its plans to revolutionize the K-12 classroom with the iPad, electronic textbooks, a revamped version of iTunes U that supports content for K-12 schools as well as higher education, and tools for educators to create their own digital content using iBooks Author and iTunes U.
In the intervening months, schools and districts around the country have made significant investments in iPads, including the San Diego Unified School District, which invested $15 million in 26,000 iPads for its students. Those sales created a record quarter for Apple in the K-12 education market.
With the back to school season upon us, it’s clear that the massive iPad deployments will give Apple the opportunity to disrupt the classroom in the ways it has whole industries and, in many ways, that’s a good thing.
The TED organization, which sponsors a range of conferences and talks on cutting edge topics recently launched an ebook series known as TED Books. Like the non-profit’s other initiatives, TED Books are “designed to spread great ideas.” Sticking to that ideal, the organization is making the ebooks, which will be released every two weeks, available across a range of ebook platforms including the new TED Books app for iOS devices.
The move highlights one of the challenges about ebooks – the choice of merchant and platform. That’s a particular concern when it comes to Apple’s iBookstore because purchases can only be read on an iOS device.
Jumsoft has announced its first pack of Word for Mac templates. Named the Inspiration Set for Word, the pack contains 169 templates for almost any document or project from business stationary to canning jar labels – of them beautifully designed by Jumsoft’s team of professional graphic designers.
Jumsoft has made a name for itself with a range of template collections for iWork and other Apple apps including a collection of templates/themes for iBooks Author and two collections for spicing up emails composed using OS X’s Mail app. The company has also produced two packs of clipart that can be used in virtually application.
Erica Sadun writes at TUAW about a new, possibly first of its kind ebook, one that includes American Sign Language (ASL) videos embedded along with the electronic text and pictures.
While bilingual education has been around for a good long while, the concept of prepackaged ASL translation is a relatively new one, as the tools to embed quality video in an eBook haven’t been mainstream enough. Until now, of course, with iBooks, the iPad, and iBooks Author.
Author Adam Stone released his new book, Pointy Three, on the iBooks store last week. From the iTunes description:
Presented in American Sign Language (ASL) and English! The story of a fork who’s missing one of his prongs, but not his brave spirit. Follow Pointy Three on his journey through the land of Dinnertime as he meets characters left and right and looks for a place where he belongs.
Sadun interviews Stone and talks with him about his motivation to do such a book. “I want to show everybody that it can be done easily, quickly, and cheaply,” he said on his blog. “You don’t need to talk to a publisher; you are the publisher.”
Stone works as a first grade teacher at an ASL school in New York. He was inspired by the introduction of iBooks Author and came up with the idea for the story with ASL elements on the way home one day. He typed up the treatment on his iPhone in the Notes app, he says.
When asked why he hadn’t created an app, Stone reveals that he has no skills as a programmer. With iBooks Author, anyone can create an interactive story for their unique audience and situation.
This is the disruptive success of Apple, one that hearkens back to the original computer club and Steve Wozniak. Apple devices are all about empowering people to actually create and do things – wonderful and unique things – with the powerful technologies inside.
One of the ways that working in education is different from almost any other industries is the annual summer break. The summer break let’s schools and districts tackle large projects in ways that simply aren’t possible in other fields. Deploying a brand-new network, building an expansion, and taking part in professional development programs are just a few examples.
With the end of the school year, Apple is taking the opportunity to remind schools and educators about a free professional development program that it’s offering. Called the Tune In Series, the program is a series of webcast events covering the iPad and many of the technologies that Apple introduced during its education event in January. The series is running every week through the end of August.