Harry Potter

Harry Potter
Even the world's best super spy needs a little help from assistive tech!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Textbooks make the leap to the 21st century!

Yesterday,  I had the opportunity to play with an excellent app, IBooks Author. It's very cool and will cause a lot of educators and publishers to re think their entire knowledge base and revamp their skill set.

Excuse the hyperbole, but this is serious folks.

These text books are so cool: interactive, full of videos and ready made tests that it made me itch to create one for a Shakespeare play, or for a history module or for my study skills group. It would work for every learner in the classroom and allow everyone to access the information. Better yet, if those students who need AT have their own digital copy then the teacher can have their own copy as well and use it for the rest of the class. Universal design for learning anyone? It will be a game changer, if we get the funding and the support from the DOE!

And yet...all the fancy stuff can't take away the fact that the IBooks and the tech needed to support them are expensive and all from one company which isn't the one that all the schools currently use...more expense to re-place and re-train and yes, I know that you can use Apple products on PC's but let's be honest: they never work as well and they always freeze up when you need it the most.

Once again, this class has made me rethink and wonder about the world of assistive tech, which I suppose is a good thing in the long run.

An excellent article on misgivings about the apphttp://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com/2012/01/ten-reasons-i-cant-recommend-or-use.html

First Impressions

Hmmmm... where to begin? My brain is buzzing about all the ways that these amazing applications can be used for students of all abilities and age ranges.It's hard for me to get my head around the fact that all this tech is there but we can't access it because of funding! And yes Barb, I voted today. 4 times with different emails (I checked the rules and there was nothing about that being illegal!).

And here's the other thing: I really don't like the ethos of the Apple Corporation. Don't get me wrong:  I have an IPod touch, I use a Mac at home that my sister in law has so I'm not unfamiliar with the systems and I find them simple and clear to use but  last year I had my economics class pick a TNC (trans national company) to research and we all decided that some of their business practices were not really what we would call fair and equitable. And I know that every TNC does it but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That being said, as educators today we have to have that bad taste in our mouth a lot of times so I guess you have to get used to it. And I'm going to be buying an IPad after Christmas if they have any sales just to make sure I can understand the tech!

What did I learn on our first night? Traditional AT is giving way quickly to newer, faster, more powerful applications that the kids know more about than the teachers do which is exciting and scary at the same time. Some teachers won't be able to get on board as fast as they are expected to which will definitely cause tensions in the classroom and the profession. But maybe there is a silver lining in all this as more parents look around and see that government funding is needed for us to make our schools accessible and relevant to all students. More training is needed for us all if we are to be successful educators and continue to make a difference in our students lives.

Sigh. As I said, my brain is buzzing with lots of ideas so I know that I'm not being as clear as I could have been. I'm looking forward to figuring this all out and having some fun along the way!