July 30, 2012

The Next iPad Classroom – From Greg & Beth

Last week (July 23-27), was “iPad week” during our summer workshop series. We taught three days of The iPad Classroom followed by iPads, ePubs, & iBooks Author: Creating Digital Course Content. While much of the curriculum focused on the transition from consumption to creation, we also had an opportunity to explore the future of integrating iPads into the classroom.

Paper + Layar + iPads = Augmented Reality

One of the great benefits of using iPads – or any other mobile device – is the ability to extend learning beyond the physical four walls of the classroom. With augmented reality, it is now also possible to extend learning objects beyond what is actually in print. EdTechTeacher’s Greg Kulowiec wrote,

I recently came across the concept of using Augmented Reality with iPads.  While there are a number of platforms available to created augmented reality experiences with the iPad, the platform that I have found to be terrible user friendly and easy to use is Layar.  I may be late to the party on this web tool and iPad app, but I am going to continue on with the hopes that someone finds this useful in their classroom (fingers cross).

To add augmented reality to a printed piece is quite simple with Layar: create the printed piece, upload a PDF version to the Layar web site, and then use the web tools to add additional content. The screen capture below shows the “hot spots” that Greg added to a flyer for our iPad Summit. Once he had uploaded the PDF of the flyer, he added links to this EdTechTeacher blog, the EdTechTeacher iPad As.. page, and the iPad Summit web site.

Greg's Layar Screen Capture

As for the classroom implications, Greg wrote:

I think it is safe to say that we will continue to have students create paper based projects in the classroom. However, with the use of Augmented Reality, that typically static paper product can now become interactive. Imagine for instance a student created poster that is then scanned as a PDF, uploaded to Layar and then Augmented Reality can be added. A student’s poster of WWII battles for instance could be linked to relevant websites, student created video that is uploaded to YouTube, a blog that the student is also writing about WWII as a fictional soldier.

Read Greg’s full article, Paper + Layar + iPads = Augmented Reality, on his blog – The History 2.0 Classroom.

Creating & Curating Custom Course Content

As mentioned, last week concluded our first Creating Digital Course Content workshop – and the first iBooks Author workshop in the country specifically for teachers. When EdTechTeacher’s Greg Kulowiec and Beth Holland wrote the description back in November, they focused on the concept of iPads & ePubs, envisioning two days of learning about tools such as JoliPrint and dotEpub to curate content for students to actively read or annotate on the iPad.

When Apple launched iBooks Author, they changed the description. During the winter, they also discovered PrintFriendly, Book Creator, and Creative Book Builder, so they modified the course description again. In June, they sent out a list of suggested apps, but just before the start of the course, they added Layar, Nearpod, Subtext. Twenty-four hours before the start of the course, Apple announced its new individual course manager in iTunes U. Needless to say, the concept of digital content is constantly evolving.

Our participants came into the workshop ready to embrace the concept of curating custom content and creating documents specific to their students’ needs. They (and many of their administrators) envisioned that they would completely digitize their curriculum by creating iBooks loaded with video, interactive images, and study tools.

However, within the first hour, reality set in.

  • Challenge #1: ePub File Storage – iBooks Author, as well as other ePub creation tools, generate massive files. Not only will students rapidly fill their iPads to capacity with these eBooks, but most school networks won’t be able to handle the load of 20-50 students simultaneously downloading to their iPads. School administrators, parents, and even our participants assumed that they would completely digitize all of their students’ reading. However, that may not be a reality in terms of actually disseminating the content.
  • Challenge #2: Creating with Windows – Beth described creating ePubs on a Windows computer to be much like stuffing a square peg in a round hole. Without an affordable tool such as iBooks Author (Adobe CS6 offers similar capabilities for $300+), creating media rich eBooks to be consumed by students on iPads presented a serious set of trials for schools that have not also invested in Macs. Beth wrote iPads, ePubs, and Windows – stuffing a square peg in a round hole on her blog that outlines a series of potential solutions.
  • Challenge #3: Why ePubs???? –  Just because it’s possible to provide digital content, should you? What benefit does it provide to your students? How do you choose which format to use and how to deliver the content? What does it really add to the learning process? In some ways, two days could have been devoted to solely tackling these questions. Beyond the annotation, accessibility, and multi-modal features, what benefits does reading with an iPad provide? The diagram below begins to provide a framework for answering some of these questions.

Diagram of reading options on the iPad

Greg described the concept of Augmented Reality and how it could enhance paper-based projects. Similarly, imagine scanning pages of a book and overlaying related audio, video, or web content to support student comprehension. In last week’s workshops, he also introduced participants to Subtext, an app for collaboratively reading. Imagine virtual book clubs, asynchronous literature circles, and class discussion of a text in a blended learning environment all inside the actual book. 

As all of us at EdTechTeacher prepare both for the upcoming iPad Summit as well as next year’s summer workshops, we are definitely looking ahead to the NEXT iPad Classroom.