From the Wires
ecodads Offers Fun Education Apps for California Students
By: PR Newswire
Dec. 8, 2012 02:56 AM
California school district superintendents, California Department of Education's STEM Office, Cal/EPA and CalRecycle endorse these interactive textbooks
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California next-generation parenting movement ecodads® have created a new form of fun education apps, Interactive Textbooks (iBook), for the Apple® iPad® called "Touchable Books" to target and engage the iGeneration of digital-native students. These iBook modules bring to life classroom units with touch-based local habitat maps, 3d views from atop the Golden Gate bridge, time lapse cinematography, videos from award-winning directors, interactive slideshows, an instantly accessible glossary, flashcards, games and content review quizzes. A demo video of the technology, full description and strategic roll-out plan for the apps can be viewed upon the Kickstarter crowd-funding project page located here - (http://kck.st/SawNOy).
For the 1st set of iBooks, ecodads selected the landmark "Education and the Environment Initiative" curriculum (EEI) to adapt into flexible, deeply-engrossing and experiential lessons. EEI was unanimously-approved by the CA State Board of Education for K-12th grader students, work with Common CORE Standards and STAR Testing Standards, as well as Next Generation Science Standards to enable fluid integration by teachers into their classrooms.
The EEI curriculum, set in motion through state legislative action, resulted from a dynamic multi-agency education and environmental partnership, which included the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the California Natural Resources Agency, and over 100 representatives from state and federal agencies, universities, NGOs, and educators. The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) oversaw development of the curriculum, which is now administered by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The K-12 curriculum is comprised of 85 units teaching select science, history and social science academic standards.
This first-generation of EEI APPs will deliver two 6th grade units requested by educators in both the Calaveras and Manteca School Districts. Once completed, the apps will be free to interested educators and home-schooling parents and caregivers. Successful completion and evaluation of this ecodads project is part of a larger effort to make the EEI curriculum available to all 150,000 of the state's science, social studies, and history educators and all 6.2 million California students. The APPs are being designed to use the collaborative interaction of the iPad to enhance the way the EEI curriculum works with these standards, which emphasize inquiry-based, hands-on learning and cross-cutting, interdisciplinary teaching.
"The touchable books will deliver active, not passive, student-engagement that will support a system of community-based knowledge-building for future generations of students," said Michael Leifer, ecodads co-founder and executive producer of the APPs. "These APPs are the tip of the iceberg that will ultimately link classrooms to a much deeper and more robust set of resources, databases, and activities from 3rd party education providers and government agencies such as the CA State Parks."
Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer voiced his support. "It is imperative that the students of Manteca Unified and the State of California learn about the precious resources of this great state and our impact upon them as human beings," Messer said. "We need to get students 'virtually' outside of their classrooms. I hope that there are companies who will provide innovation and generous support for apps like the ones that ecodads are developing. This is after all, about our students and our collective future."
Calaveras Unified Superintendent Mark Campbell also backs the effort. "Any endeavor that seeks to effectively facilitate the active engagement of students is worthwhile and it is clear that the Environmental Edutainment Apps Project aims to do just that," Campbell said. "From my experience with EEI, which has been nothing but positive, I fully believe that the educational objectives here will only serve to greatly benefit student learning."
Santa Cruz City Schools Assistant Superintendent Kris Munro further endorses the campaign. "I'm excited by this type of private public partnership that brings new innovation, collaboration and passion to the task of supporting students' access to powerful learning opportunities in environmental education."
Statewide Coordinator of the CREEC Network in the California Department of Education STEM Office Anne Stephens, added her approval. "I have joined CA Superintendents Jason Messer of Manteca Unified and Mark Campbell of Calaveras, as well as Assistant Superintendent Kris Munro of Santa Cruz City Schools, in supporting this digital and environmental educational effort and watching it with great interest. This innovative app strategy could help CA public schools to more deeply engage and enrich our students, by cost-efficiently getting interactive curriculum into their hands and providing access to local education resource providers. I encourage you to review the video demo and brief plan, and to consider lending your support."
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson spoke of the need for greater use of technology in education in a California Department of Education's news release dated March 17, 2012 (http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr12/yr12rel25.asp), when he said, "Technology is changing nearly every aspect of our lives. But in California—home to Silicon Valley and the world's leading technology companies—many schools have been all but left out of the technology revolution. If we're serious about providing our students a world-class education, we need a plan that leaves no school and no child offline."
"As the first standards-based, K-12 environmental education curriculum to be approved by the State Board of Education, EEI is helping to break down the historic barriers between everyday classroom education and environmental education," said Bryan Ehlers, Cal/EPA assistant secretary for education and quality programs. "It gives educators a wonderful way to merge experiences in the classroom with enriching activities in school gardens, parks, aquariums, and science centers."
According to CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen, "Our biggest challenge in bringing the EEI to teachers and students is the high cost of printing and distribution. The proposed EEI apps will significantly reduce costs and give students an improved and interactive environment-based curriculum."
Will Duggan, Executive Director of ecodads concludes, "ecodads is involved because we believe the mash-up of this exquisite EEI K-12 curriculum and the fantastic new tools being innovated right here in California can help teachers and parents develop the kind of informed and engaged citizens that we hope for for California's future."
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