from Educators' eZine
Apple banners surrounding Moscone Convention Center mid-January proclaimed, "There's something in the air." Everyone knew the slogan heralded much more than San Francisco fog.
Joining us at the MacWorld 2008 conclave were nearly 50,000 devotees and groupies, over 400 exhibiting companies, numerous insightful presenters and a handful of b and c-listed celebrities including Grammy award winner Randy Newman and comedian Sinbad.
The star of the show was Apple's CEO Steve Jobs. (His CEO status coupled with Apple's slogan could erroneously lead you to refer to him as "air head".) His MacWorld keynote address is revered as one of the most important annual events in the technology world.
With the fanfare typically reserved for a national hero or rock star, Jobs revealed his company's latest innovations. Here's an overview.
MacBook Air Laptop Computer
Air, is an incredibly svelte (.16" to .76"), lightweight (3 lbs.) new laptop with a full-sized keyboard, a 13.3" display and a $1799+ price tag. It fits snugly into a standard size manila envelope, although a durable case is recommended for transporting this gem.
Embedded in Air is a redesigned Intel Core 2 Duo. (The new CPU is 60% smaller than standard - approximately the size of a coin.) Space and heat concerns restrict "Air" to a 1.6GHz or, for $300 more, a 1.8GHz chip.
As with nearly all subcompact laptops, several compromises were made. It lacks, for example, an optical drive as well as multiple ports and expansion options.
Consumers seeking a sleek, light-weight mobile computer will be breathlessly craving "Air".
One of the most useful, and least flashy new products, is Time Capsule. Capsule automatically backs up everything on one or more Mac computers simultaneously through a wireless network using Leopard software. It's available with either 500GB or 1TB storage. The "Time" is now to avoid lost data in the future.
In the first 200 days of sales, Apple sold 4 million iPhones. (That's 20,000 a day!) Apple's leap into technologies beyond computers has clearly been successful.
New software updates allow users to text the same message to multiple people, create web clips and watch movies rented from iTunes. Users can also automatically find their exact geographical location by triangulating signals from Wi-Fi base stations or cellular towers. Exact directions to desired locations can then be illuminated through a redesigned Google Maps interface.
Similar upgrades to the iPhone are now available on iPod Touch. Enhancements to Web Clips, mail, maps, stocks, weather and the ability to watch movies rented from iTune are new features.
An astonishing 4 billion songs, 125 million TV shows and 7 million movies have been sold on iTunes. (In just one 24 hour period last Christmas, 20 million songs were sold.)
Failing to rest on these phenomenal statistics, Jobs has now enlisted the six major U.S. studios (20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Walt Disney, Paramount, Universal and Sony) in offering movies and other programs through iTunes. Though these new partnerships, the current availability of 1000 movies (100 in HD), will exponentially increase soon.
Movies are priced at $2.99, with new releases costing $3.99. HD versions are $1.00 more. Renters can watch their movies and programs on iPods, Macs, PCs and iPhones.
iTunes too narrowly defines the potential of this new venture. A more accurate moniker is iEntertainment.
Apple TV Take 2
The lackluster popularity of Apple TV in the past year has led to Take 2. This "Take's" hallmark is the ability to download movies, music, podcasts and photos, without a personal computer. Access to flickr, .Mac and YouTube is also available.
This direct Internet to TV interface shatters access constraints. It's a "Take" at $229.
Although Steve Jobs' entire keynote address is available through the Apple website, we prefer a humorous satire of his 90 minute speech, condensed to only 60 seconds, at http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2008/01/16/steve-jobs-keynote-60-seconds.
Apple products lead the industry in unleashing students' imagination and creativity in classrooms throughout our country. Understanding what technological applications are available is the first step toward effectively integrating technology in instruction. Here are a few of the most notable.
iLife Suite of Instructional Applications
iLife is the most comprehensive and versatile suite of digital authoring tools for students. It includes iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand, iWeb and iDVD. The suite is factory installed on all Mac computers.
According to Apple, "with iLife, students can express themselves with images, movies, music, spoken word and text. When producing digital projects with iLife, students are empowered to be innovative and creative while at the same time building crucial communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills."
iLife applications are used by teachers from virtually every discipline and all grades levels to enhance the teaching and learning process.
iPods are light-weight, portable devices with varying capabilities. The smallest and least expensive is the iPod Nano. Newer iPod Nanos and the iPod Classic offer both audio and video capabilities. The iPod Touch includes audio, video and internet applications.
Podcasting has become a popular instructional strategy. Teachers and students can create their own multi-media lessons or choose programs from an extensive library. Selections can then be downloaded on their iPod and viewed at any time, at any place. Selections can also be replayed as often as desired. Learning, therefore, has no physical or time barriers. iPods are clearly powerful learning resources.
Gaming continues to dominate the digital market through popular video game consoles such as Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation. Few games, however, were originally developed for the Apple operating platform. But this is changing.
Several MacWorld 2008 exhibits and sessions were devoted to the gaming environment. An array of complex games aligned with players' imaginations and personalities were evident. As with most Apple products, they are highly intuitive.
Certain games have relevant educational value. They require students to observe and interpret various kinds of data and make choices based on what they see and experience. As a result, students learn about the process of making choices as well as the consequences of their decisions.
Carefully selecting appropriate instructional games for students is essential. The options and quality are increasing rapidly in the Apple universe.
MacWorld 2008 Educator Academy
The Academy was by, and for educators. Successful classroom uses of various applications were demonstrated. Teachers offered colleagues stimulating and practical hands-on workshops. Topics included the following: Learning to Game, and Gaming to Learn: An Introduction to Video Games in Education; The Classroom Recording Studio: Music in Education with GarageBand '08; Blog if You Love Learning: Weblogs in Education; and Podcasting Boot Camp for Educators.
If you missed this Academy, similar useful ideas and interactive exchanges are readily available now through Apple's Learning Interchange.
Apple Learning Interchange
The Apple Learning Interchange (opens in new tab) is an essential, free nexus for educators. It offers a "single access point to find media and ideas for classroom activities produced by peers, by Apply Inc. and by Apple content affiliates. Educators can connect with each other through simple searching, messaging, iChat and collaborative publication tools, and they can submit projects as simple as classroom snapshots or as complex as multi-page abstracts for assessment, enhancement and peer review."
Numerous quality sample lessons and units are offered on the Interchange in virtually every discipline and grade level. Locating specific instructional activities is simplified through the Interchange's powerful search engine. Users can identify their interest through the following drop down menus—channel (all, K-12, higher education); grade level(s); academic area (disciplines); and tools (applications such as Podcasting). Once selected, the engine flawlessly links users to a specifically tailored list annotated with brief descriptions. Viewing these technologically enriched instructional activities is truly inspirational. The possibilities are endless.