A few weeks ago, when all the geeks were freaking out about Google Reader shutting down, I felt a smug sense of satisfaction, having abandoned reading the web via RSS feeds a couple months ago. I realized that I could gain about as much by checking a dozen sites that post both original content and link to lots of interesting writing from all over the place. Sure, I also used feeds to follow journal tables of contents, but I rarely had time to read full journal articles when I was checking feeds, something I tended to do when I was half brain-dead after the kids were in bed.
If you’re looking for a Google Reader alt. you might like my iTunes U course “Using Twitter and Flipboard”. itun.es/gb/RWFVF
— Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs) March 14, 2013
I was curious enough about how this worked to set it up and give it a try, and I would probably stick with it if I were still an avid feed reader. But this is not a post about reading feeds with Flipboard, either.
What really grabbed my attention was Fraser’s link to an iTunes U course. The course uses a series of narrated videos to walk through the process of setting up Flipboard and connecting it to a Twitter account. He created the course for his day job as an IT director and teacher at a school with a one-to-one iPad program. The content itself is very high-quality, of course, but what struck me was how nice it must be to know that every single one of your students can access your lesson exactly how you intend them to, all within a nicely bundled package that receives new content and course updates automatically. This works for Fraser because his school, after weighing the pros and cons, committed to a platform.
If I wanted to use iTunes U or iBooks Author to create materials for my classes, I would only be serving a small fraction of my students with the ideal experience — I’ve only noticed 3 or 4 iPads in my classroom in any given semester. For the majority, I would have to post the materials to the web or our learning management system, requiring additional work and, more importantly, stripping the material of the interactive components. This creates a chicken-and-egg problem, because I’m not inclined to distribute my course supplements as iOS-optimized if I don’t see my students using iOS devices, and students are not inclined to choose iPad or iPhone over other similarly-spec’d tablets and smartphones if they don’t see the course materials being created.
We may be in the midst of the mobile revolution, but from the standpoint of one creating or preparing classroom materials, which mobile — the OS, the size, the capability — matters. Unless you’re in the (enviable) position of knowing exactly what all your students will bring, I guess we’ll have to settle for the least common denominator, which is probably not the best solution for any.