Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Apple Unveils New iBooks Author Software

A group of local teachers attending an Apple presentation Feb. 17 were excited by the latest software recently unveiled by Apple: an iBooks Author that allows users to create iBook-compatible books from document files.

The program allows authors to create textbooks with simple drag-and-drop mechanisms. Apple's educational sales representative Seanna Downing showed attendees how they could quickly create an iBook with specially designed templates embedded within the program.

Authors can copy and paste text from Word documents that is then automatically divided into appropriate sections, create titles for their book, and add interactive elements such as videos and images. Authors who know JavaScript and HTML code can add even more creativity to their books by developing custom widgets that would enhance a book's interactivity.

"This is the first time we've seen book publishers get on board with what we've been asking them to do for a long time," said Ms. Downing.

Apple Seminar Discusses Hands-on and Technical Aspects of Tablet/Mobile Devices

A presentation outlining the benefits of Apple's iPad in the special needs classroom drew a large group of local educators Feb. 10, many of whom returned a week later to learn more about the technical aspects of managing other Apple mobile devices, all of which are becoming increasingly common in our region's schools.

Hosted by the Model Schools Program, the initial half-day session dealt specifically with the iPad's adaptability to the special education population. William Ziegler, an Apple Distinguished Educator in assistive technology, gave a 90-minute presentation on how the tablet can transform education for students with disabilities.

An additional presentation by Ellen Bergman, superintendent of the Mount Pleasant Blythedale Union Free School District, and Emily Hersh, principal of the Mount Pleasant Blythedale School, provided participants with real-life examples of how this new technology can work in the classroom.

The Feb. 17 presentation by Matt Roe, Apple's senior system engineer, focused specifically on how Apple mobile devices should be configured, deployed, maintained, and updated so that educators and students can get the most benefit from them. The session was specifically geared toward systems and network administrators, librarians and media specialists, help desk coordinators, and technology integrators.

Mr. Roe cited the Rochester City School District as a successful user of Apple products. The district currently has 2,800 iPads in schools across the district. Its One-to-One iPad Program, which is being used in fifth and sixth-grade classrooms, has been particularly successful, he added.

To get the most from Apple's technology, Mr. Roe said staff should be able to create accounts for multiple users, be able to restore, reset and sync devices, create and deploy configuration profiles, manage user access to iTunes, and secure their iOS devices for use in a school building.

The half-day session also included information on Apple's Volume Purchase Program, which allows educational institutions to purchase iOS apps and books in volume and then distribute them to students, teachers, administrators, and employees. Discounts are available to schools, said Mr. Roe, if they purchase 20 or more apps. Mr. Roe suggested that participants register for Apple's series of webinars that explain the workings of the program.

Mr. Roe also talked about a recently rolled-out initiative that allows users to automatically personalize their iPhones and iPads. Users, he said, can customize their personal profiles by adding one-of-a-kind wallpaper to their desktops as well as personalizing applications and settings, all easily recognizable through facial recognition.

For help with any technical issue concerning Apple products, contact Wayne Cobham at