Tag Archives: Apple

Apple’s “Textbooks” Potential: Curriculum Creation for Customized Learning

Apple’s announcement about selling interactive textbooks, iBooks Author for creating interactive textbooks, the iTunes U app for iPad, and opening iTunes U to K-12 prompted me to blog about my reaction to textbooks in general, how Apple’s tools might be useful for students to create products in PBL, and how the tools might be used as a platform for on-demand PD for teachers.

I think there is at least one other area of potential for Apple’s new tools: as a curriculum creation tool for educators working in customized learning environments.

In Maine, there are currently 12 districts who are members of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning (MCCL), and other districts and teacher preparation institutions are chomping at the bit to join.  MCCL has it’s roots in six districts that dove deeply into the work of the Reinventing Schools Coallition (RISC), and in the numerous districts who have read Bea McGarvey’s and Chuck Schwan’s book Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning.  These districts are working to start implementing some hybrid of ideas around preformance-based, standards-based, student-centered approaches which we in Maine have come to think of as “customized learning.”  In fact, Commissioner Stephen Bowen had all departments heads in Maine’s Dept. of Education read the book, and his new strategic plan focuses heavily on reinventing our schools to provide customized learning and having students work toward a standards-based diploma, not one based on seat time and credits earned.

Teachers are getting trained.  Cohort members are collaborating on converting the Common Core and Maine Learning Results into “measurement topics.” Schools are working on fostering a classroom climate of student voice and choice. And educators are exploring the kinds of instruction and school structures that can make this happen.

I also recently wrote about how we might consider structuring the curriculum as a series of shorter seminars, instead of semester-long and year-long courses.

What if MCCL had its own iTunes U account, where they posted videos of their best instructors (or their instructors’ best lessons). And what if teachers in Cohort districts created their own texts for seminars and these were shared across the Cohort (many hands make quick work). What if seminars could be set up as “course” in the iTunes U app, linking various videos, assignments, teacher-generated interactive texts, and other resources.

Focused collaboration with tools such as these could be a powerful way for teachers doing the grass roots work of customized leaning to restructure their curriculum.

It’s Your Turn:

How else could these tools (or others!) be leveraged to help organize curriculum for customized learning?

Apple’s “Textbooks” Potential: PD Creation Tools for Schools/Districts

This is another post where I explore the potential of Apple’s announcement about textbooks, textbook creation tools, and iTunes U for K-12 education.

I have already shared my reaction to textbooks in general and where I see potential in Apple’s tools as another choice for students creating products.

I think another potential use of these new tools is as a platform for schools and districts to create and deliver on-demand professional development.

I work on a couple school change initiatives focused on innovative approaches to student learning. One thing they all share is that teachers need lots of training and support since these approaches are often new to them. Trying to coordinate and deliver that training and support to any number of teachers (teachers who themselves are at all different developmental and readiness levels) can be a logistical nightmare. Further, all the current initatives I’m working on involve customized learning (learning systems that recongnize and respond to the fact that people learn in different ways and in different time frames), so it’s not a surprise that we’ve been exploring the idea of “just in time,” on-demand training and support systems as a component of an approach to PD that includes feedback and coaching, as well as traditional trainngs, workshops, and conferences.

I think the collection of tools announced recently may provide an infrastructure that would allow the easy creation and distribution of such a system.

My district could open an iTunes U Management Account, share webinars and videos that we would create, then use the iTunes U app to create “courses” (not just using our content, but that elsewhere in iTunes U) that each teacher could work through at his or her own pace. We could create interactive books to provide further support and reference materials (including interactive components). Teachers could then apply what they’re learning, with the support of peers and others who could visit their classrooms, team teach, observe, give feedback, and offer other kinds of support as teachers work on their practice.

This isn’t too different than the approach Carpe Diem schools use with students (online direct instruction with videos and coursework, followed by application activities with teachers), but generalized to the professional learning of teachers. Our iTextbooks and iTunes U courses could provide the background knowledge which teachers would then apply to their own classrooms under the support of a teaching coach.

Conferences, workshops, and training sessons would, of course, still have their place, but perhaps more of the time at those would focus on sharing ideas and resources, collaboratively processing and reflecting on experiences, and networking. But overall, districts and organizations could provide more training to more teachers, and, more importantly, on the teacher’s own time schedule.

It’s Your Turn:

How have you experienced (or are implementing) on-demand professional development and support?