I always thought the Gimp a good photo editing software. Of course it gets even better if you can use your Android tablet as a sketch pad to your computer. Think how powerful this could be in an art class or even just in a regular classroom?
What college student doesn’t like free textbooks? Heck, you tell your parents to send money for texts, use free ones, and you pocket the rest, right? Boundless, a site that uses Creative Commons textbooks, will allow you to do that. Of course, K12 Open Source Classroom will not condone that though!
Boundless (www.boundless.com) seeks to provide open content to students. They work with the Open Educational Resources community to provide this free content.
So you go to the site, create an account, and choose your school and then classes. This is exclusively a higher ed entity at this time, but I can definitely see the promise for high school in the future. As you go through your courses, you will find some open textbooks. It does not seem like all the courses provide open texts, but my school I used to sign-up, North Carolina State (go Wolfpack!) has some using Boundless. You can also just browse an entire list of available texts at https://www.boundless.com/textbooks/. You can find a wide variety of courses from Accounting to Art History and from Marketing to Microbiology. When you drill down into a course you find a nice outline, and then your actual text. Boundless also provides other materials like study guides, quizzes, and flash cards for registered users. Pretty nice tool!
How great for a college student! If all their classes supported this, they would probably only need something like a tablet device for school. Instead of the hundreds of dollars put toward textbooks, put that to a device (although making sure to put a little to the good folks at Boundless who run the site–they need to eat too!). Do the publishers like this? Of course not, but they have had their run. Now it is time for us to shift directions, getting more crowd-sourced, current information. More engaging and interactive content as well. Now, just to see it at the high school level!
So we finally moved into the gaming era, albeit quite late, with the acquisition of a wii over the holiday. The girls are quite the dancers and bowlers already! That got me thinking what are we doing with gaming in our schools? I will assume you hear about the interesting things they do with World of Warcraft in Pender County, North Carolina. Lots of teaching of history, math, and science using a popular role playing game. How about a school that uses gaming exclusively as their curriculum, as in the Quest for Learning School in Manhattan? And now we see many schools offering video game development using Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio (ok, so it’s Microsoft) through Computer Programming courses in their Career-Technical Programs.
I love all of this! Why do we continue to think we need to prepare students for taking on huge debt for four years of college they probably mostly will never use. Yes, we still need doctors and lawyers, but if a high school grad can design a game or an app and make a decent salary, why does this upset us? I have seen time and again students design Apple or Android apps, sell them for $0.99 a piece and make awesome crazy money. Why do we not want this? In programming you need logic. You need math, especially in the spatial sense. Problem solving. So many skills. Let’s move more and more in this direction. Higher Ed will feel threatened, surely, but they also need to change with the time. Maybe 1 or 2 year programs to further a student’s knowledge. Don’t stick them in a 4 year program and take electives that have no relevance to their program. Yes, they may lose some money, but that’s the way of the world!
Yup, it’s that time of year…lots of countdowns and looks toward 2013. We definitely enjoyed a good year with Android in 2012. Finally got some decent devices. From the Samsung Galaxy Tab series to the Amazon and Barnes and Noble lines, and finishing with the Nexus 7 at year’s end. In our schools we use these for any number of reasons, productivity with our Principals to the Wireless Generation assessments with the Nexus 7. So much so that we purchased 200 of these devices. So going forward, where will 2013 take us?
1. Google coming out with a purchasing plan for schools. Right now, that’s a big reason for schools not to go with Android. Apple has its licensing/mass purchasing program to a science. Even Barnes & Nobles has a way to use purchase orders to purchase content for nooks. Google, not so much. In order for these devices to really take off, there needs to be some program. And not just buying gift cards. Hopefully Google has something in place soon!
2. A mobile device manager that allows more control. We are looking at a variety of MDMs to keep track of our devices. Meraki has a nice one (free!) and we have been looking at AirWatch, Symantec, and others. We will need to choose one and go with it in 2013.
3. Devices. What will CES, the big consumer show in January share with us? The Nexus 7 definitely fills a nitch. What will the next device built on it show us?
Image from http://www.soft9000.com/blog9000/index.php?entry=entry111111-090652
Sort of related to my previous post, we continue to open more and more sites in our district as we see the need to provide students and teachers with authentic experiences online. In our district we continue to face challenges to opening Twitter. Seems some folks just want us to block everything. They are doing inappropriate things, so let’s block it. Are teachers monitoring? Are students receiving discipline? Nope. So we ban it all, then we see things like students losing scholarships when they post racists things or other controversial items. Do we TEACH online safety and etiquette? Do we check on students/children? No. Let’s ban it all…
Image from: educationrethink.com