Saturday, January 21, 2012

iPads, Polycom, iBooks and Distance Education

This week Apple announced the update to the iBooks app and iBooks Author. It has the potential to both change who creates textbooks for students as well as diminish the "heavy loads" that students have to carry to and from school. But that is for a more detailed blog post for another day :)

As you may or may not be aware, CDLI has a huge deployment of Polycom videoconferencing technologies throughout the schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact I have one in my office and have used it in my teaching. But it got me thinking... Polycom... is there an app for that. The answer is that there is... for the iPad.

What we learned from our initial testing was that the app connected to individual videoconferencing units quite easily... it was quite stable too. The next test is to see if there is stability when the iPad is connected via the Polycom bridge. If that is successful then here is how I see a potential pilot of all of these things going ahead.

First of all, I see piloting with iPad deployment in a junior high math class? Why? Simply because in distance ed we can keep the class for piloting small by targeting this to more of our smaller schools...k-12 populations smaller than 100. And math because this is what I teach.

The curriculum as it exists at that level is supported with an e-book for a student resource. it would make for easy use on an iPad.

The Polycom app would be used in conjunction with our bridge to connect all students to me as the teacher and for me to use the Ploycom (in presentation mode) to teach a lesson or help with student questions/remediation. There is no need for our regular synchronous tool in this teaching scenario. Such a scenario would also increase social presence within the distance education class.

The app store is loaded with apps to help with remediation and drill/practice at this grade level for math.

But Thursday's announcement perhaps provides the most exciting addition to this pilot idea... with iBooks Author there can now be teacher created resources available to students in which video, audio and images can be easily added... and published as an iBook. I see creating detailed review for tests using this new feature. Maybe a local text in the future?

Sounds like all of this will work... all I need now is a Mac.

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