Archive for January, 2012

Apple Introduces iBook Textbooks

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Electronic books, or e-books, have been a popular tool for eLearning for quite some time now and Apple hopes to capitalize on the popularity, convenience, and features of e-books with their new textbook line.  Just a few days ago, Apple announced it would be offering a line of textbooks for their iPad in Apple’s iBookstore.

On the Apple website, the usual case against traditional paper books is made.  Traditional books are expensive, experience wear and tear with continued use year after year, and can be cumbersome to haul around.  They also point out the issue of many textbooks containing out of date information due to the difficulty in keeping information current in a traditional print book. (Apple offers updates to their iBook textbooks free of charge.)  Also, three major elementary and secondary education textbook publishers (McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) have already created textbooks for the iPad that are available now in the iBookstore.  Given that e-books are already wildly popular thanks in part to the very popular e-readers such as the Kindle and the Nook, the Apple iBook textbook line will most likely be very successful.

If you visit the Apple website, you will find a slick and savvy information page dedicated to the new iBook textbook line.  The introduction of the iBook textbooks on the company site sums it up nicely: “A Multi-Touch textbook on iPad is a gorgeous, full-screen experience full of interactive diagrams, photos, and videos. No longer limited to static pictures to illustrate the text, now students can dive into an image with interactive captions, rotate a 3D object, or have the answer spring to life in a chapter review. They can flip through a book by simply sliding a finger along the bottom of the screen. Highlighting text, taking notes, searching for content, and finding definitions in the glossary are just as easy. And with all their books on a single iPad, students will have no problem carrying them wherever they go.”

The interactive nature of Apple’s iBook textbooks is one of their most impressive features.  Readers can manipulate images of three-dimensional objects allowing for a fully rotatable view of many objects.  Other interactive images include pan and zoom features and callouts containing additional information.  Another additional interactive section of a iBook textbook could be image galleries which hold several pictures to scroll through rather than simply one picture to illustrate a concept or idea.  To explore the interactive features of the iBook textbooks, you can visit the Apple website at http://images.apple.com/education/ibooks-textbooks/gallery.html .

The iBook textbooks also have several features that will aid students with their studies.  A student can highlight an important passage or concept by simply swiping a finger over the desired text in an iBook textbook.  By tapping on a highlighted section, further options are available such as changing the color of the highlighting or instantly adding a note.  There is also a “Notes View” that allows students to easily access all of their highlighting and notes in one convenient place.  The notes are converted into Study Cards that can be used to study course material.  Students can even choose to include chapter vocabulary words and definitions from the glossary if they wish.

Based on the success of most Apple endeavors, we will surely be seeing and hearing much more about Apple’s iBook textbooks in the future.  If you would like to learn more about them, visit the Apple website at

http://images.apple.com/education/ibooks-textbooks/ .

Computer Games Used for STEM Training

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

It has been well documented that education in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is critical to the future of all those wishing to remain competitive in a worldwide market.  In a recent article in US News and World Reports, Allyson Peerman writes about the connection between computer game design and STEM training.  Research has shown that over 90% of teenagers today engage in some sort of computer game playing as a regular pastime.  Additionally, a significant amount of research suggests that game-based learning has great potential in elementary and secondary education.  Therefore, it only makes sense that computer games designed with STEM training in mind would be beneficial to students and educators alike.

One company, AMD, has made this idea a reality.  AMD’s Changing the Game initiative is an educational program that encourages young people to learn through gaming.  According to the AMD website the Changing the Game program, “teaches kids how to create their own video games on subjects such as energy and the environment and other important social issues. By creating games, students learn science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills as well as problem solving, critical thinking, language skills and teamwork. They are so engaged in the process they don’t realize how much they are learning.”  To showcase how Changing the Game can support learning in the STEM subjects, AMD recently conducted a two-week workshop on their program in Abu Dhabi for Emirati youth.  The teachers and students participating in the workshop were able to see how the program guides STEM education as well as improves skills like problem solving, collaboration, and communication.  Ideally, additional software and technology companies will follow suit and create programs that support STEM education through the engaging medium of gaming.

If computer game design is something that appeals to you, consider taking one of Gatlin International’s newest eLearning courses, Computer Game Design.  Gatlin International’s Game Design Virtual Internship experience is appropriate for those who are interested in learning the basic skills of programming and game design. This course is ideal for anyone who would like to experience the thrill of creating a video game and who might like to see if a career in game design or programming is a fit. This course is also perfect for the game enthusiast who has never had the chance to create and program their own game, or someone who would like to add to their experiences for their CV or resume.

Upon completion of this computer game design course, students will receive a Certificate in The Basics of Programming and Video Game Design. Two complete game production projects, a portfolio documenting your creative process, and a personal experience working within an industry setting will showcase the technical and soft skills employers are looking for. With Gatlin International’s unparalleled comprehensive training program, master the skills to open doors in the growing video game industry.  To learn more about Gatlin International’s Computer Game Design course, visit http://gatlininternational.co.uk/catalogue today.

Three Technology Trends to Keep Your Eye on in 2012

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Here on our blog, we like to keep our readers in the know on the latest eLearning trends.  Our first article of 2012 discussed several eLearning predictions for the new year.  As January is quickly coming to a close, we would like to share some technology trends to keep your eye on in 2012. As anyone in the field of eLearning knows, technology is an ever growing and ever changing entity and below are three of the hottest trends in technology that will affect how people work, live, play, and, of course, learn in the upcoming year.

Trend: Mobility and Portability

It seems like anyone who is talking about technology trends for 2012 lists mobile technology or portable technology as the number one trend.  While mobile and portable technology is nothing new by any means, this is considered to be a trend to watch because many technophiles agree that there is going to be an explosive increase in the number of consumers, businesses, and organizations that use this type of technology.  For the world of eLearning, this means that many of the tools and applications used for course creation and delivery will need to be adapted for use on mobile and portable devices.  This could also mean that the mLearning (mobile learning – using a mobile device as a source of course content or creation) will also expand rapidly alongside the ever-increasing mobile and portable device consumer base.

Trend: Augmented Reality

Almost every technology trend report we came across for 2012 mentioned augmented reality as well.  Wikipedia defines augmented reality as “a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.”  While is seems like many people are talking about what augmented reality can do for marketing and advertising, do not discount the impact it can have on eLearning.  With augmented reality, learning a great deal more about something you have encountered in your environment could be as simple as snapping a picture with your smartphone or tablet to electronically retrieve information tied to the object of interest.

Trend:  Voice Command

Voice command technology is another trend that has been around for quite some time but is expected to seriously expand in the upcoming year.  Apple’s introduction of Siri for the iPhone 4S is probably the most notable advancement in voice controlled interaction in the recent past and is expected by many technology professionals to bring voice command technology into the mainstream.  This technological trend will most likely have its largest impact on eLearning in voice to text applications.  Using tools such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, Google Voice, or several other applications, spoken word can be transcribed to text fairly easily.  This could streamline many eLearning tasks, especially if the eLearning is taking place using a mobile or portable device.