If the expression “Give me the child aged seven….” applies to the iPad and Keynote, I’d start to worry if I ran the Microsoft Office marketing department: Lessons from a Las Vegas school

My Google alert for Keynote, which by the way is far more useful for tracking Keynote mentions than the Twitter #keynote tag, this morning shows a story from the Las Vegas Sun newspaper’s online site:

(I have purposely blurred the advertisement for a Mac product I am heartily sick of seeing).

The story, available at the link here, is a lengthy piece by Paul Takahashi about an  elementary school in the eastern Las Vegas Valley called Explore Knowledge Academy (EKA), whose motto is:

Creating Leaders: One Project at a Time.

The story looks at how the school is employing iPads to live up to that motto, using something you will hear lots more about when it comes to shifting away from traditiuonal teaching methods: project-based learning.

The article states project-based learning is one:

….where students create projects — presentations, plays, dances and dioramas — to demonstrate their knowledge. Last school year, EKA began a pilot program with 25 iPads to help students research and craft more interactive projects, such as digital slideshows, movies and songs.

“The world has changed; the expectations in the workforce have changed,” said Abbe Mattson, EKA’s executive director. “You can’t even work at a McDonald’s without using a touch screen. … If we don’t change how we teach, it’s a disservice to our kids.”

Quite.

In fact, following my presentations at Macworld a few weeks ago, where many teachers were present, I’ve received enquiries from teaching staff in the USA about holding in-service training for teachers on using Keynote, both the mechanics but more importantly the theory underlying learning via presentation software.

But it’s the opening few paragraphs of the Las Vegas newspaper article which sets my imagination on fire this morning. At 2011’s Macworld where I presented for the first time on Keynote for the iPad, I described the iPad as an enterprise Trojan Horse, bringing Apple products into a world formerly closed to it and one where Apple has shown distinct disinterest. (You can see the blog entry and video here).

The real, long term Trojan Horse exists in schools like EKA. Remember when Steve Ballmer laughed upon the introduction of the iPhone in 2007? (So did the guys at Palm with their Treo). And when others dissed the iPad in 2010 as just a big iPod Touch (and by extension, near useless)?

Imagine if you are the Microsoft Marketing VP for Office  (which is really MS’s cashcow) and you read the following opening from the Las Vegas Sun newspaper’s story, and you’ve been railing at Steve Ballmer and other Senior VPs to get Office for the iPad out there:

A dozen Las Vegas second-graders were given a common English assignment one recent morning: Write a story using new vocabulary words.

But instead of picking up a pencil and paper, these students launched the Pages word processing application on their iPads and started tapping.

One precocious youngster in the back of the room raised his hand.

“Mrs. Gilbert, can we go on Keynote to do this?” the second-grader asked. (Keynote is Apple’s version of Microsoft PowerPoint.)

Katie Gilbert smiled and said, “Sure.”

What was it the Jesuits said: Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man?

Now apply it to school-based hardware and software. Do you feel the planets aligning yet?

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4 responses to “If the expression “Give me the child aged seven….” applies to the iPad and Keynote, I’d start to worry if I ran the Microsoft Office marketing department: Lessons from a Las Vegas school

  1. Les, your finger is on the pulse- as always. Thank you for the ongoing insights. Quite exciting isn’t it?

  2. With news of Office for the iPad to be released shortly (http://9to5mac.com/2012/02/21/microsoft-office-for-ipad-spotted-soon-to-hit-app-store/#more-140163) is it just wishful thinking on my part that Apple has been sitting on the iWork updates to coincide and steal some thunder?

    Seriously. I’m beyond withdrawal symptoms here….

  3. Absolutely true. I just worked on a two slide project with my 12 year old niece that her teacher INSISTS be done in PowerPoint. I showed her how to quickly put together the slides in landscape in Pages, save them as PDFs, and plop them into PowerPoint. She couldn’t believe 1) how fast Pages was in comparison to PowerPoint, and 2) how much easier it was to grab a picture, mask it, resize it, and position it in comparison to PP. Now she wants me to download Keynote to her mom’s iMac.

  4. Pingback: If Microsoft Office comes to the iPad, it will be the best of times and the worst of times. | Les Posen's Presentation Magic

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