A new term: new cohorts, projects and adventures. And OMG iTextbookses!

Gung hay fat choy! Gung hay! Gung hay!

The latest cohorts of ETEC565A are well under way: somewhat smaller crowd (17 and 18 per section), but two quality bunches of folks in each.  Qualitative feedback on their Flight Paths has been released; almost all of them will be pleased with what they got.

Teaching the course while concurrently designing a research project related to it is rather interesting. One of the benefits of SoTL is this sort of thing: potentially a more rigorous reflection on: 1.) what I’m doing, and 2.) what is happening in my course. My goal of having my survey completed this week? Out the window…

A new term also means new student staff, this term in the form of two Graduate Academic Assistants (GAAs). Rather than one full-time co-op student I’m trying this to see if two people working a bit less time though with an overall broader range of skills works better. Early indications are it does. But ’tis early.

On Tuesday morning I had a very full but nicely organized week of work (go project manager me!); on Tuesday afternoon I was handed a new (major) project and learned I was getting a new staff member. Well, it’s a new role: the person filling it (it’s a contract) is someone who’s worked both for CTLT and for me as a TA previously. And she’s awesome. But the week fairly ran away from me from then on. Interesting project, great people, what’s not to like?

Last year I was asked to be an external reviewer for CIHR; this year I’m on the full committee. So I had 3 grants to review (one as primary reviewer) that were due on Wednesday. I got them in (I started reviewing them weeks ago), but it’s going to be an interesting committee conference call. That’s all I can say. I also gave a SoTL workshop for CTLT staff, with an overflow attendance of 4.  Good times!

In fact, I’ve been so busy I missed the big Apple media event on Thursday. Normally I wait a couple of hours and look for syntheses of the event–but this week’s was about education. Turns out the rumour mills were fairly accurate: Apple endeavours to do for textbooks via iBooks what iTunes did for music. And with iPads what it did for iPods. I’ve only been able to explore one actual iTextbook, but it’s impressive: it’s intuitive, non-linear, and has all sorts of rich media embedded. The focus of the event was on K-12, but what I’m pre-occupied with is university-level science (particularly biology/anatomy/physiology texts–major Wow potential here. Oh, and anyone with a Mac computer (with the “Lion” version of OS X) can create iTextbooks for FREE.

Some folks in the open movement are, unsurprisingly, not entirely impressed. I get that. I’m largely in that camp myself. But in a lot of ways I’m more concerned with getting things that work well and easily: when Windows and Android have a q/c system for their ecosystems I’ll give them another look.

BTW if you monetize an iTextbook you create Apple gets 30%. But you can create free ones–and distribute them freely.  Apple is a kapitalist enterprise and yes they’re driving users towards their product line with this sort of rollout. Just like they did with the iPod.  No surprise there.

About John P Egan

Learning technology professional.
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