When you think of education, Electronic Arts probably isn't the first company to come to mind. But for the publisher Pearson, EA is exactly the kind of role model it's looking for in remodeling Pearson for a digitized age.
Speaking to GigaOm, chief product officer Luyen Chou revealed his intent for his company to become an "Electronic Arts for education." Chou enumerated, detailing the struggle to keep up with the times, and getting "high-quality, interactive digital learning experiences" into classrooms.
"Digital studios, animators, illustrators, producers, 3D artists – we need to build that capacity within instructional companies like Pearson and we need the whole end-to-end supply chain to the take that from the studio to the actual users,” Chou said. “The folks that have done that well are the EAs of the world, digital studios. That’s not a core competency for companies like Pearson.”
Pearson's lately been busy acquiring a massive amount in the way of pushing toward an interactive education company, spending $1.6 billion on acquisitions alone.
Read More | GigaOm
Alongside the release of iBooks Textbooks this morning, Apple has also released an app called iBooks Author. Available for free on the Mac App Store, iBooks Author is a tool that allows anyone to create a textbook, storybook, or any other kind of book with relative ease. These books aren't just text either--you can add videos, 3D objects, photo galleries, web widgets, and more. Once you're satisfied with your book, you can then export it for personal use, or publish it to the iBookstore for sale or as a free download. Check out the video above for a full rundown of how it all works.
Today Apple took the stage in New York City to unveil its education initiative, and at the heart of it all is the release of iBooks Textbooks. Textbooks require an iPad running iBooks 2, and Apple hopes this will open up a whole new world of learning to the masses. Bringing with them dynamic, interactive, and updateable content, textbooks on the iPad become instantly relevant and engaging. Apple also made sure to point out that an iPad is much lighter than a backpack full of heavy books. The video above demonstrates Apple's vision for the future of the textbook. iBooks 2 is available now, as are a handful of textbooks from publishers like DK, Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, focusing on the K-12 market for now. Textbooks are $14.99 or less, which is another breakthrough (although you won't be able to sell these back when you're done with them like you can an actual book.)
I know I'm not the only parent out there that has to give up the iPad to the children on a regular basis, and that's why we're putting the LeapFrog LeapPad in our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide. It's a personalized learning tablet optimized for kids ages 4 through 9. It's got a 5-inch touch display, built-in camera that can record video, and ships with four apps. More apps are available for download, and they focus on various educational topics like reading, math, science, geography, art, music, and more. You can pick up the LeapPad on Amazon now for $99.
Read More | LeapFrog LeapPad
Comcast is tapping into its altruistic side a little bit and deploying a brand-new service tier, one that's designed to bring the Internet to families that would otherwise be unable to pony up $40 to $60 for the company's lowest tiered plan.
Dubbed "Internet Essentials," Comcast's new plan will cost a family only $9.95 per month for a connection that features 1.5 Mbps download and 384 Kbps upload speeds. There's a guarantee of no price increases after-the-fact, as well as no activation fees or equipment rental fees for families signed up for the program. Enrollees will even be able to purchase a netbook computer via the Internet Essentials program for $149.99 (plus tax), and Comcast is offering free online and in-person "Internet training."
To join the program, however, families have to meet four different criteria: They have to be located in an area where Comcast can actually deliver Internet service (obviously), one of their children has to be receiving free school lunches via the National School Lunch Program, families must not have had Comcast Internet service up to 90 days prior to requesting to join the program, and families must not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned Comcast equipment.
What a difference a month makes. In March, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) was pushing for the federal government to provide every student in the U.S. with an Apple iPad. This week, Rep. Jackson complained that iPads were "probably responsible for eliminating thousands of jobs."
Somewhere along the line, he seems to have discovered that iPads are manufactured in China, not in the U.S.—a;nd; it had him hopping mad (see video below). Here's what Rep. Jackson said Friday afternoon on the House floor:
"In the 112th congress, unemployment is at 9 percent. And not a single piece of legislation considered by the 112th congress has done anything to address 13 million unemployed Americans.
"A few short weeks ago I came to the House floor after having purchased an iPad and said that I happened to believe, Mr. Speaker, that at some point in time this new device, which is now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs ... now Borders is closing stores because, why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes & Noble? Buy an iPad and download your book, download your newspaper, download your magazine.
Looks like Apple’s hopes that colleges and universities around the country will adopt the iPad as an educational tool may be coming to fruition. Seton Hill University, based in Greenburg, Pennsylvania, has just made it public knowledge that they will be giving all full-time students an iPad, starting with the next upcoming fall semester. Other schools have tried this with the Kindle, but in our opinion, the slowness of the Kindle screen refresh kind of killed that one. We don’t know that the iPad will fare much better, but it certainly has a better shot at success.
We’ve gotta hand it to PeeWee PC, as their Pivot Tablet Laptop looks exactly like something that would be a home run in the hands of a technology-curious child. Don’t go comparing this to the OLPC XO, though, because the Pivot Tablet starts at $599.99. What do you get for the cash? Let’s run down some of the specs. First of all, the Pivot Tablet Laptop if drop-resistant and spill-resistant, which immediately should give a bit of piece of mind to parents (like me) who know the horrors of kids + tech + juice. It also has a handle, making it easy for the children to tote the 3 pound device around. Getting into the nitty gritty, the Pivot Tablet Laptop sports a 10-inch touch-sensitive rotating display with stylus, 6-cell Li-ion battery, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB RAM, a 1.3 megapixel camera, and a 60GB hard drive. Not too shabby. You’ve also got two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi, and the whole thing ships with Windows XP Home, which is customized with a theme of your choice (things liek Disney, Sci-Fi, etc.). Being a device for kids, there is also a security suite that let’s you keep on eye on what the little one is up to while using the device as well.
You can pick one up starting today.
Read More | PeeWee Pivot Laptop product page
Gallery: PeeWee Pivot Tablet Laptop for kids
Academic Earth is a new site dedicated to offering free learning with online video lectures and courses. There are thousands of them from 6 universities and dozens of instructors. Subjects include astronomy, computer science, chemistry, economics, mathematics and physics. Their goal, they say, is “giving everyone on earth access to a world class education.” We find this to be a noble plan and applaud the site in its efforts. They also welcome input to help improve it.
Read More | Academic Earth
Once again, the OLPC project is offering its Give One Get One deal. This time it will be on Amazon. For $399.00, your child and one in another country will receive one of the colorful XO laptops. The company is still hoping to lower the price to $100.00, but so far increasing product costs have prevented it. About 473,000 units have been placed in 31 countries thus far. Order now in the U.S. and UK and get your XO this year. We are thinking that if you want to give your kids a great present for the upcoming holidays, he/she would love to know that they helped another child somewhere else.
Read More | OLPC