Entries in Education (17)

iPad in Education - A True Story

We have been reading with interest the many stories popping up around the web about iPads being used in Education in interesting and creative ways. In many cases the introduction of iPads into education establishments has been as a pilot, limited to certain groups of students or subject areas.

One story that we have really enjoyed following and one which we wanted to make sure you knew about is the project at Cedars School of Excellence, an independent school in Greenock, Scotland whose pupils are aged 5-17 years.

Cedars has undertaken the first 1:1 deployment of the iPad for their pupils. With just 105 pupils this may not seem like much, but the logistics of managing, maintaining and updating this many iPads is a fun but extremely challenging problem to face.

Frasier Spiers is the developer behind some of our favourite and most used bits of software, namely FlickrExport for Aperture and iPhoto, as well as the Viewfinder for iPad app, but he also happens to be the Computing Teacher at Cedars and the main force behind this project. 

Frasier has been getting a lot of media attention because of this project recently (even appearing on Leo Laporte and Sarah Lane's iPad Today show) so you may have seen some of this already, but he posted every step of the implementation on his own blog, where you can read the whole story and background to the project. There is also information and news about how the iPads are being used by Teachers and students on the school's wiki, especially the blogs section.

We are always interested in how the iPad is being used creatively and constructively in Education as well as other spheres of activity, so if you know of any other notable stories in this regard or you are involved with something like this yourself, please leave a comment and let us know about it.

Teachers in iPad Heaven

Yesterday, we stumbled across this headline, "2 Days to iPad Heaven", and of course we were intrigued!

What we found was this blog from a group of art, music and theatre teachers involved in a funded education project in Pennsylvania, USA. The funding is coming from a grant called 'Arts Educator 2.0'. 

There are some really interesting posts about the apps that the group are using on their iPads and their experiences (good and bad), plus the comments left by other teachers add useful resources and further reading, like this list of Projection Apps.

We also found a link to this video from one of the teachers on the project demoing the iPad with VGA out and its use in teaching:

iPad to TV demo from ArtsEducator2.0 on Vimeo.

The iPad Heaven mentioned in the headline above is a 60 plus iPad project. At lunchtime today, Pennsylvania will have a lot of happy creatives receiving their brand spanking new iPads. We are looking forward to keeping up with the development of the project and reading about their experiences.

Be sure to check out the blog and have a look back at some of the older posts too for some interesting reading from a teacher's perspective.

CourseNotes 2.0 - Share Notes via Facebook (and more)


The first version of the CourseNotes app launched at the same time as the iPad earlier this year, but the app's Developers, Dear Panda LLC, have just released a number of significant new features with their 2.0 version.

In addition to the previous functionality that included:

  • Creating and organising notes/sketches in various ways
  • Creating To-do or assignment reminders
  • Integrated research tools to add to notes
  • E-mail and network sharing
  • A very attractive UI

the new features are:

  • Online export of notes, for viewing, sharing or printing notes online
  • In-app viewing of friends' shared notes
  • Support for bullet list formatting in notes
  • Premium note content available for in-app purchase


Top Two

The two big features that stood out to us are 1) online sharing of notes and 2) the new premium content.

Online sharing takes the previous functionality a bit further and sits well with students who would no doubt already be avid users of Facebook. The app uses Facebook account verification to sync your notes online and make them available via a custom link that can be automatically shared via Facebook. There are three online sharing options:

  • Just Me - no sharing
  • My Friends - allowing existing Friends on Facebook to share your notes
  • Everybody - allowing any user of CourseNotes to see your notes

Additionally, you can login and see what notes your friends are sharing for all subjects they have made public. So if you were ill and missed that very important pre-test class, you can add your friend's notes to your iPad from their Facebook link, right inside the app.

This is in addition to the ad-hoc network and email sharing that was available before, so students really have a nice range of collaborative options with this new version. Facebook comments and feedback are starting to pick up with this release, so that should help spur on further development of these features.


Premium content comes to CourseNotes via in-app purchase and initially takes the form of just two study guides, 'French verb conjugations' and 'the Periodic Table of the Elements', with the Press Release stating: "Additional study-sheets on topics including Art History and U.S. History will follow shortly after the launch."

'Shows Potential'

We are not sure who is developing these guides, but at up to $2.99 per purchase we are hoping that the quality and authority of the study guides is being verified. In a way, they can only be very generalist without official textbook Publishers being involved, unlike Inkling's official textbook replacement offering we covered last week.

That being said, with the addition of a raft of useful and popular learning resources CourseNotes could become the full-blown study companion and central repository that students need on their iPads.

If Dear Panda can build up a decent range of study aids very quickly then they could establish themselves as the go-to resource for iPad wielding students who want to share and learn together using a device that is always with them and instantly available.

Without the hassle of waiting for the OS to start up or booking a slot to use the Library PCs, students can already share, collaborate and research topics wherever they happen to be with the iPad using an app like CourseNotes.

CourseNotes 2.0 is out now in the app store at $4.99 (£2.99), a brief overview can be seen in the video below.

If you have tried CourseNotes out on your iPad and have any thoughts about it at all we would love to hear from you in the comments.

Inkling: It's like iTunes for your Textbooks

(edit: Video removed - YouTube version was not authorised, text amended to refer to Inkling website to watch the video)

Inkling_Two_Up_highres.jpgImagine the scene:  You are about to leave home for the first time and enter the  world of Higher Education, you're off to College or University.  You are excited and nervous. Everything is packed, and you are ready to walk out of the door and into your new 'adult' life, but just as you are about to leave your Parents hand you an A4 sized box.

"Yes", they say, "it is an iPad!". They also tell you that all of your textbooks are in that little box too, and there's more, they tell you that you have credit enough on your iPad for hundreds of individual chapters from any textbook you need. "Don't spend it all at once!" they say, and they mean exactly that, you don't have to spend all of your credit at once on one very expensive textbook. Instead you can buy just the chapters you need that term (semester) and just the ones you will need for the rest of the year.

With the release of Inkling for the iPad, this is now a reality, and we think it has very important implications for the publishing business as a whole.

What is Inkling?

Inkling is the name of a new app, and also the company who have developed, with the publishers/authors, new electronic versions of certain key textbooks. The four launch titles, all from McGraw-Hill, are:

This is certainly only the beginning.  As faculty and institutions begin to see the impact of using electronic versions of these textbooks and the learner engagement that comes from using the iPad, and arguably other tablet-type devices, we are certain that this type of application, if not just Inkling themselves, will radically change the way that key texts are delivered and distributed to students at all levels of the Education stream.

It is a development that has got the team here at iPad Creative very excited about the future of publishing and Education.

What makes Inkling books special?

These textbooks are not just PDFs or electronic versions of the paper version. No, these are enhanced textbooks feature interactive illustrations, video, text highlighting, electronic versions of margin notes, and one of the most interesting and creative features in our opinion, collaborative note sharing with other registered Inkling users that you know, e.g. those studying the same course, as well as faculty members.

That's right, you can make (electronic) notes in the textbook and share these with other Inkling users by connecting with them via their username, but more impressive is the ability to subscribe to a Tutor's note stream, enhancing the learning interchange and providing Educators with another route for learner engagement, something that they are on constant quest to maintain and improve.

(This video is hosted at CNN and it looks like the embedded Flash video will not work on your iOS device, but you might be able to watch it on your device here. We mention the pertinent points for our discussion below anyway.)

In the video above, Matt MacInnis, says that Inkling went back to the authors and publishers to make these electronic textbooks so much more than the paper version, adding in interactive features such as quizzes which not only give you feedback on correct or incorrect answers, but if you are incorrect, it tells you why, and what the correct answer is to help you learn where you went wrong.


Not so different in the Classroom

Inkling_Reading_C_highres.jpgYou might imagine with all this new fangled stuff that it would be a bit weird sat next to fellow students with their traditional paper version when your Professor calls out, "could everyone turn to page 128". Because of the different nature of the electronic textbooks in Inkling, they do not really have pages as you would in a paper book, but Inkling have made efforts to help users out in this area by making it easy to jump to any page. The built-in search gives you the advantage though, enabling you to quickly access any text or illustration in the book, as well as in your own notes that include those key terms.

The iTunes Music Store Pricing Model

One of the key features that stood out about Apple's iTunes Music Store when it was introduced, and one of the aspects that shook up the Music Industry, was the ability for customers to buy individual songs from an album. Before, we had to buy the whole album on CD and, although there were other online music stores around, this purchasing model and improved customer choice really hit the mainstream with iTunes. In other words, we could pick and choose what we wanted, or needed, to create an à la carte product tailored to us as the customer.

Now a very similar model can be applied to the academic publishing industry. Previously, the only option for students was to buy the whole tome and swallow the hefty price tag but now, with the introduction of individual chapter purchasing, Inkling are opening up a new, à la carte, way to buy.

The price of buying the paper version of the textbooks quoted in the above video is $180, but by selecting just the chapters that are needed the student could only end up spending about $50. Savings that both the student and Parents will appreciate, arguably providing less of a barrier to accessing learning resources for those who find it difficult to afford, especially if the iPad does not have to be purchased by them, but is issued to the student by the Academic establishment as part of their enrolment (from reading the FAQs it looks like your purchases follow you to a new device if you get an iPad after finishing your studies, so your purchases are not lost).

Some of us who are not so close to College age any more might bemoan the loss of the traditional paper based books and the feel of physically flipping through the pages and scribbling notes in the margins. It has to be acknowledged though that the form factor of the iPad lends itself perfectly to reading textbook pages, being about the same size, and for a generation that are not as used to holding and using paper books, it is probably not much of an issue and is certainly what the future will look like.


More info

There is a good FAQ at the Inkling site which answers a lot of questions about the detail of using the app and there are some nice little video demos of the key features too.

As we have already said, the launch of Inkling and no doubt other similar products eventually, fills us with a good deal of excitement about the future of publishing and the user benefits it will bring, even if it is a shift in thinking for the Publishing houses. With a big name like McGraw-Hill behind Inkling's launch though, it looks like an inevitable march towards a different purchasing model, at least in the Academic sphere where not all of a book is required or needed.

Your thoughts?

What do you think? Are you involved in Education in some way? Do you have any thoughts on how this might be a good move? Or do you have some serious reservations about this development?  Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.

CreativeLIVE - Free Skills and Software Training From Top Creatives

Chase Jarvis is an inspirational pro photographer and visual artist who has a really great attitude to sharing his knowledge and experience with other Creatives to form a community spirit around creating art, especially in the fields of photography, and more recently, video.

Chase has just launched a venture in conjunction with CreativeTechs which they are calling CreativeLIVE.  CreativeTechs have already established themselves as providers of free, live streaming, software and skills instruction in the creative field, and we have recently benefitted from some of their free courses including Lightrooom, iPhone application programming, and Photography instruction.

Now they have upped their game by including free instruction from some of the leading names in the creative fields, and the list is impressive.  From Chase's blog:

On the photography side of things, we excited to announce in quarter one featuring Vincent LaForetDavid DuCheminZack AriasScott Bourne, Art Wolfe, and many others. Wanna learn how to have vision in photography? We've got the instructor. HD Dslr Cinema, we've got it. Lighting? We've got it. Software? We've got that too. And if we don't have it? Tell us and if there's demand, we'll create it for you.

There are some great photographers featured here, but other areas will be covered too, there is a Watercolor 101 class starting on 28th May for example. This is something we are really excited about and we wanted to let you know about it too.  The live streaming courses use WebEx Webinar software, and we usually join the webinar on our Macs, but the release of the WebEx client for the iPad has us wondering if we can join these classes from our iPads.

We know you can watch the paid-for course downloads, which are great value, on the iPhone or iPad, but the iPad seems the perfect device to watch and learn on whilst sat on the sofa instead of having to get the laptop out and plug it all in.

Chase Jarvis has made an introductory video which you can see below, and the iPad makes a brief appearance at 1:07.  We recommend you definitely check out the new CreativeLIVE website.

iPad? I'll have ten!

Macrumrors have reported that Apple are promoting the iPad to Educational Institutions with a special 10-pack bundle for the Wi-fi only models (not the 3G models).  Academic organisations can benefit from the fairly modest saving of $20 (about £13.41) for non AppleCare iPads and a slightly better $40 (£26.82) discount per unit if they opt for AppleCare. 

The iPads will be supplied in one big box without individual packaging though, so it is very much a distribution pack. The Educational establishment will not be allowed to resell them of course.

Individuals (Students/Educators) who would normally receive an Educational discount from the Apple Store are not included though it seems.  We have gone through the Education Store and verified that no discount is applied if shopping for just the one iPad.

Why is this of interest? 

Even before the iPad was announced, many commenters discussed the merit of using the device in an Education environment, and it excites us to think of the creative uses the iPad can have in a classroom. 

It is easy to think of how the iPad can be used in areas such as art, music/audio and video production, Languages, Geography, Design, etc.  It also seems a natural fit for Internet based research, as well as being used for textbooks and e-learning. 

In fact, when you sit and think about it for a minute, there are many possibilities of using such a simple, and let's face it gorgeous, device in the Education arena.

The modest discounts offered here aren't going to completely enable the adoption of the iPad, but it does mean that Apple are thinking along these lines too and this opens up new opportunities for engaging learners of any age, but especially those of school age, who arguably have more of a leaning towards the use of technology in their learning.

Have you got any ideas for how the iPad can be used in Education?  We would love to hear them in the comments.

Australia's First iPad App is a Medical Encyclopaedia

Australia's first iPad app is going to be a medical encyclopaedia according to Mogeneration. In conjunction with Medwords, they have announced the publication of Carter’s Encyclopaedia of Health and Medicine, and it will be released first on the iPad.

This 1,100 page medical encyclopaedia will have the traditional look of a hardback encyclopaedia, but it will contain interactive images, a browsing history and allow you to add bookmarks. From the screenshots on Mogeneration's website it looks a lot like the Dorling Kindersley Human Body book for the iPad, demoed by Penguin publishing, which we blogged about a few weeks ago.

However, this is interesting from two perspectives:

1) This is an example of a serious use of the iPad for educational purposes and much is being said about the iPad and the impact it could have on the field of education and research.

2) Mogeneration's publishing framework is quite interesting. It allows any content creator to publish their content via a native iPad/iPhone (and Android) app, which can then be purchased through the App store, but they do the development work.

Mogeneration are not the first to offer this service and provide books via apps in iTunes, but from a creative point of view this kind of service is interesting. It is an alternative to the more traditional publishing route using the iBook store that Apple will be introducing with the iPad launch.

Once the iPad is launched this is certainly the approach that we expect many self-publishing Creatives to take in getting their content onto the iTunes App store without having to deal with Publishers and all that entails, thus joining the hundreds of other 'appbook' publishers already there. It is an area that we expect to develop rapidly and we will be watching with great interest.

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