SyncUp With StudySync
When I first heard about the video out and mirroring capabilities of the iPad2, I quickly found myself in the Apple store and asking, “What about Apple TV? Can I buy the Apple TV instead of the $39 adapter and mirror my display without the cable?"
Although the answer was "No," it was followed by a “but...” and a hint that it probably wouldn’t be too long before the capability of mirroring the iPad display would be available via Wi-Fi connection.
At the latest WWDC conference, Apple made it official. With the release of iOS5 this fall, users will be able to wirelessly mirror their iPad display onto an HDTV with an Apple TV attached. That means for the price of an iPad, Apple TV, and a flat screen monitor (total cost: under $1,000), a teacher could be anywhere in class with the iPad and manipulating their program, platform, or app of choice—StudySync included—on the display. It means teachers can do a lot of other things as well.
In a report from CNN's Dan Simon yesterday, we learn how one Los Angeles teacher has transformed his classroom by encouraging his students to Tweet.
Enrique Legaspi once faced a scenario that many of his peers struggle with every day: a classroom full of distracted students constantly connected to their mobile devices — texting, Tweeting or IMing.
Legaspi wasn't against technology, and like many teachers, he wondered if there might be a way to turn the reality of those technological distractions into a learning opportunity. After attending a seminar in San Francisco on incorporating Twitter into the classroom, he had an epiphany:
I had an 'Aha! moment' then. I said to myself, 'Wow. This is what's going to really engage my students.'
Rather than telling his students to turn their devices off, he set a BYOT, or Bring Your Own Technology, policy. If the students were not equipped, they were able to use one of the classroom computers. Either way, they would be Tweeting. But not just to their friends. They would be Tweeting about World War I, then watching the responses in real-time as Legaspi highlights some of the answers.
Imagine you’re working in corporate America. For the sake of argument, we'll assume you’re a middle manager at a Fortune 500 company. You and several of your colleagues are sitting in a conference room while your boss is up front introducing a new product using a portable projector. The picture is a little blurry so it’s hard to make out some of the product details.
You can’t use your phone to send an IM to another colleague about an idea for how to penetrate the market with this new product because there’s a corporate policy against cell phone use in conference rooms, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because the wireless is spotty.
You take notes on a legal pad. As your boss finishes his presentation he hands out several heavy booklets that include technical specs, a user’s guide, sales kits and other supplementary material. Then, he looks at his watch and seeing that it’s half-past 1:00 declares, “Okay everyone, let’s all go to the computer lab. It’s our turn. Chop, chop. We’ve only got an hour.”
Last week, StudySync CEO Robert Romano took the stage at SF NewTech and gave the audience an insider's vew of the product - from SyncTV to Blasts to the Library and beyond. During the demo, he explained,
We all know that the human-to-human connection is at the heart of academic and professional success. Technology is the conduit, a dynamic link in that connection, a tool that facilitates interactivity.
By blending the tenants of traditional educational principles with the assimilation of technology that exists in this generation’s daily life, we will ensure the great ideas of the past will inform the new ideas of the future.
The audience response during the Q&A session and on Twitter was outstanding. Here is a sampling from the reaction on Twitter:
We're excited to announce that StudySync will be joining the lineup of presenting companies next week at SF NewTech Meetup, the Bay Area's "largest, longest-running, and most-loved monthly technology event and networking mixer for people who can’t get enough of technology."
While the audience is filled with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, bloggers, journalists and tech enthusiasts, we are especially proud to represent the EdTech community.
The format is challenging: present and demo your product within five (short) minutes, then immediately answer questions from the audience for an additional five minutes. Our CEO, Robert Romano, will take the stage. Joining StudySync will be Foodia, Hollrback, Schedulicity, mgMEDIA, and 3beats.
On my way to a meeting in San Francisco, I'm driving south on Highway 121, the Sonoma vineyards racing by on both sides - nice place to live. Being the stimulus junky that I am, I scrolled through the iTunes playlist on my dash. Nothing. So I hit the radio, clicked off the rap station my teenage son had set, and tapped into 88.5 catching mid-conversation the CEO of a major book retailer, an executive from a large publishing company, and an NPR interviewer. Articulate, thoughtful, FM voices. The topic if the day - books going digital and how all the new devices are affecting the experience of reading.
Am I wrong or was this the same conversation from, oh I don't know, maybe a dozen years ago? Ink on a page vs. pixels on a screen. That's news? Really?
The audience called in with comments, like:
One of the cornerstones of StudySync is SyncTV. We define SyncTV as broadcast quality videos that capture the experience of college-level students interacting as they construct meaning from a short text or excerpt.
The students model excellence in critical thinking by exchanging ideas, examining premises and assumptions, and reading the author's words closely for meaning.
In his white paper (pdf), New Rules For A New Game, Dr. Lawrence Baines, Chair of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum at the University of Oklahoma, notes:
Recent analyses of classroom discussions have found that students are engaging in few in-depth conversations about reading during the school day. Indeed, the liveliest discussions in the best classrooms were found to be superficial and fleeting—lasting, on average, less than a minute. Students today may not know how to participate in a good discussion because they have seldom participated in one.
"How do I engage my kids in current events, so that they not only learn from them, but actually participate in the process, and enjoy the experience?"
Our answer: make it engaging, utilize technology that is second nature to them, allow for real-time participation, and make it fun. That was the idea behind StudySync Blasts: an interactive tool designed to stimulate student interest and encourage thoughtful discussion about important, present-day issues.
Each Blast contains a thought provoking question posed to students based on relevant issues that they face as they try to make sense of the world around them.
Then, as ratings are compiled, the students are shown the top ten posts. This adds a competitive, gaming component to the process as well. So students not only have fun, but become inspired to make the most concise, compelling, and intelligent statement.
But don't just take our word for it.
English teacher Ryan Gilbert describes his classroom experience:
While a Blast might limit them to 140 characters to respond, which in itself is good practice in being concise, students can do far more than the five reviews and ratings than I require. And they do.
Recently, the Auburn, Maine school department approved an expenditure of $200,000 for 285 iPads, equipping both students and teachers. Now, that alone isn’t news; it’s the fact that the iPads are going to kindergartners in an effort to boost literacy rates.
This is a very interesting development, especially to someone who develops educational software, and who has a kindergartner. I can only imagine the debate in our household if this announcement came about our child’s school.
When my own 6-year daughter comes to me, iPad in hand, and says, “Look, Dad. I just scored my highest score!”, I cringe as my wife shakes her head. If Fruit Ninja and the promise of perfecting the four-finger swipe was the only thing available on the iPad, it would be gone from our household forever. My wife would rather see our daughter swiping a paint brush. I believe that our child's use of the iPad is perfectly acceptable provided that she's looking to get her highest score in Math Bingo instead.
Certainly, this discussion doesn't end within the walls of our homes. Without great surprise, there has been a lot of chatter about this topic on the web. Is access to technology overly pervasive? Are kindergartners too young for this type of technology?