Wells Fargo has awarded a $20,000 grant to ecodads, a California education non-profit, to use towards the development of apps for the Apple iPad that would adapt a new Education and Environmental Initiative recently approved by the state’s Board of Education. The apps will be used not only in classrooms, but also to create activities around the school gardens and on field trips.
The apps are being created at the behest of the Calaveras and Manteca School Districts and will consist of two sixth-grade units. The first versions are scheduled to be released sometime this summer to allow educators in the districts time to incorporate them in to their programs this fall.
The apps will be made available online for free for the use of schools in every part of the country and by homeschooling parents.
Because only one-third of California public schools currently have Internet and Wi-Fi connectivity to stream content, the apps are being designed and programmed so that the entire units, once downloaded, can reside upon each iPad and enable the user to have a full-featured access to the photos, videos, audio, time lapse and 3D interactive animations, 360 degree panoramic photos, flipping flashcards, maps, side bar graphics, pop-up glossary and review quiz sections. A PC Netbook for each campus has also been configured to allow multiple iPads to be plugged into each school’s Microsoft System making it easy to download and update the apps on each iPad, negating the need for any additional telecommunication nor infrastructure costs.
The academic materials being integrated into the apps are already available in PDF format. Putting them on the iPad will not only add an interactivity component; it will also allow schools to save a substantial amount of money on printing costs. Ecodads estimates that printing can go as high as $900 per unit.
The Manteca School District has already announced that it will be using the new apps as part of the pilot iBook Program which will allow the school to make use of 36 purchased iPads that will be used by multiple classrooms — as many as 12 campus classrooms can make use of the iPads over the course of the year.
“Not only will these apps link classrooms to a deeply robust set of resources, databases, and activities, but these touch-based and interactive apps will bring the curriculum to life for students and teachers,” said Michael Leifer, ecodads co-founder and executive producer of the Environmental Edutainment Apps Project. “We can deliver active, not passive, student-engagement with these next generation learning tools. They will also support a system of community-based knowledge-building that will ultimately allow great ideas and solutions from students themselves to filter back into the curriculum for the benefit of succeeding generations of students.”