iPads in Education: What’s Missing?

Posted: June 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: EdTech, iPad, Uncategorized | Comments Off on iPads in Education: What’s Missing?

It seems like every passing day brings new announcements of schools adopting iPads in the classroom.  A lot of schools are experimenting with pilot programs in individual classrooms or grade levels, but the most ambitious programs are going 1:1 with the iPad, meaning that they’re putting an iPad in the hands of each and every student in the school.

The relative low cost of the iPad as well as its unobtrusive form factor make iPad deployments in schools fundamentally different from the computer labs or media carts that many people are used to seeing in classrooms.  iOS devices are well on the way to fulfilling the promise of ubiquitous computing, and education–where traditional computing devices risk ending up as distractions to learning–is benefitting immensely.

At the same time, the iPad is still very young and iOS represents a significant departure from the desktop computers that educators are used to using and that administrators are used to managing.  Because of these differences, schools will need to pick up some new computing habits and developers will need to build some new tools to truly make the best of these devices in the classroom.

Here are a couple of the challenges we’re seeing educators in the edtech community discussing in regards to using the iPad in the classroom:

  • Making app content work with an existing curriculum
  • Monitoring student activity and performance
  • Constructing workflows for students to submit work and receive feedback

None of these challenges are insurmountable, but they do require different solutions and different ways of thinking compared to the typical desktop computer deployments in schools.

Are you an educator using iPads in the classroom?  We’d love to hear from you about how you’re approaching these problems.  What other problems have you had to tackle when adopting these devices in the classroom?

Kno Tablet: an Uphill Battle

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: EdTech, iPad | Comments Off on Kno Tablet: an Uphill Battle

As a quick followup to my last post on eTextbooks, TechCrunch is now reporting that the Kno Tablet will sell for $899 for the dual-screen version, and that the single screen version will sell for $599.

I just keep asking the questions I raised in the last post: will users really want to pay $600-$900 for a dedicated educational device with limited app support, when the iPad and Anrdoid devices cost far less and can generally do much more?  Will developers and content providers really be compelled to write apps and port content to this new and unproven platform?

The Kno team also says that they’re interested in the app and content market, not in the hardware–so why build a device at all?  Why not build killer educational apps for iPad and Android and make killer content deals?

We’re dying to see technology play a much larger role in education just like these guys, but I just can’t see it happening with this device.  I’m not prone to making tech industry predictions, but I’m going to make an exception: I predict that the Kno as a device is doomed.

I take no pleasure in this prediction, because I want to see wider adoption of technology in education and better educational apps and content, but I feel like the new hardware route is a mistake.  On the other hand, they’ve raised $75 million in funding, so somebody’s betting big on them, and they are well positioned to make some real content deals.  If they do stick around, they may have a strong second act as a software and content provider.

eTextbook Roundup

Posted: October 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: EdTech, iPad | Comments Off on eTextbook Roundup

Old fashioned paper textbooks, a thing of the past?

There’s a ton of excitement around eTextbooks these days, and understandably so.  Textbooks are one of the most frustrating aspects of being a student these days:  the cost of buying books, struggling with (intentional) changes between different editions of books, and the aggravation of buying a required book that the professor never ends up using.

In other words, the entire textbook experience is ripe for a change, and there are a number of companies just chomping at the bit to get involved.  We recently took a look at a couple of of the leading options for the classroom this fall and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »

How is the iPad changing how you study this fall?

Posted: September 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: EdTech, iPad | Comments Off on How is the iPad changing how you study this fall?

Now that most schools have been back in session for a bit, and students have gotten a chance to start begin using some new tools in the classroom, we thought we’d ask our users: how is the iPad changing how you study this fall?

What other iPad/iPhone apps are you using?  There’s more to school than just note taking, of course.  We’ve seen a lot of interesting apps out there for students: Blackboard Mobile Learning for interfacing with your schools Blackboard system (if supported by your school, of course); iStudiez Pro for scheduling and keeping track of classwork; Flashcards Deluxe for making flashcards and reviewing notes; and maybe Yelp for discovering the best places around a new campus!

How about eTextbooks?  This is one area where it might still be a little early for widespread adoption.  There are a number of cool app and online offerings in the eTextbooks arena (for example Inkling for the iPad) but it feels like a lot of them are still in the early stages, and may not be able to offer the selection that students will need to fully replace physical books.  We’re betting that eTextbooks will go more mainstream next school year.

Leave a comment below and let us know how the iPad is changing school for you this year!

Introducing CourseNotes 2.0

Posted: August 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: CourseNotes App, EdTech | Comments Off on Introducing CourseNotes 2.0

It’s been quite a while in the making, but today we’re proud to introduce the release of CourseNotes 2.0.  Here’s a quick video showing off some of the new features:


I could tell you all about the new features here, but I’d rather take a step back and take about what CourseNotes is and where it’s going.  We’ve said from the very beginning–back in version 1.0, which came out the day the iPad was released–that CourseNotes would be more than just a note-taking app.  To be sure, note-taking is the core starting point for the app, but we believe there’s a much greater potential for the iPad in education.

This release marks an important point for us and for the app, as we’re introducing a number of features which truly take the app beyond note-taking, and starts to enter the realm of a more versatile educational tool.  We think that the new collaborative features and the in-app educational content will be genuinely useful to students.

We know we have a long way to go.  The features added in this release are just the beginning, but it’s nice to stop and look at where the app started and where we are now.  We want to thank all of the users of the app who’ve sent us their feedback, and hope you’ll around and see what comes next!