Daily Archives: February 21, 2012

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.”


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?

With the hype over the next iPad growing, there’s going to be a lot of disappointed pundits, Wall Street Analysts and fantasists when they don’t get what they want when they want it.

A few days ago, my head swirling with rumours and pictures of alleged iPad 3 retinal displays, I posted this on my Twitter account (@lesposen):

For those of you with iPad 2s, the iPad 3 may be no big deal at all. Certainly, many of the blog posts and comments I’m seeing in my travels are asking if it will be worthwhile updating, perhaps uncertain of how much their iPad 2 will get on eBay.

For another population of iPad owners, those like me who have the original iPad, it’s really a no-brainer. After almost two years of ownership as a first adopter, I for one am truly ready to make a leap to iPad 3 territory.* This will be on speed and screen alone, much less anything else that so many rumour sites are either positing will happen, or are expressing in fantasyland wishlists, e.g special keyboards, USB connectivity, Siri (I will be very pleasantly surprised if Siri is included), etc………… (fill in the blanks with your fantasy).

Which leads me to think there is going to be an awful lot of disappointed people claiming FAIL! when Apple doesn’t deliver the goods. Which it won’t for a lot of people. Including those who should know better like tech pundits, and Wall Street analysts.

I’m predicting another “woe is me, Apple dropped the ball” post-release crying game when the iPad 3 is officially announced, possibly early March. We’ve seen this before of course with the iPhone 4S, when so many were of the belief – no, certainty – the iPhone 5 was next in line.

Of course, the rest is history. Despite all the lamentations, the iPhone 4S has proved to be a massive hit in the months after its release, and it’s still going gangbusters.

There’s a lesson here, and it’s an old, familiar one, which can be said in at least three ways:

1. Santayana’s famous quote:

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

2. Newton’s First Law of Motion:

Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.

3. A fundamental premise of psychology I use in my work:

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour

While phrase 3 may have had its origins in forensic psychology predicting criminal recidivism, it also has its place in self-harm assessment too.

You know, it would serve right all those fantasists ready to put the hate on Apple for not delivering what they wanted when they wanted for Apple to name it the iPad 2S (for screen), just for fun while it laughs all the way to the bank.

On a more serious note however, I will apply those three guidelines above, and suggest we will see better battery life, a retinal screen, and similar price points to current iPads. Meaning there is a likelihood the iPad 2 will remain a current model but not in 64GB unless the iPad 3 (or 2S 😉 comes in 128GB size, something no one has suggested with any strong evidence or conviction.

A 32GB wifi only model for schools (16GB would be just too small for textbook iBooks coming to market) priced under $300 – ideally, $249 – would hurt a lot of tablet wannabees powered by flavours of Android.

We’re a few weeks away from the much-predicted special announcement. The hype machine will ratchet up, the fantasies will be blogged about, the disappointment safety net will go unchecked in all the hoopla, and the Apple executives in the know will casually grin like Cheshire cats as they pass each other in the Cupertino hallways.

To paraphrase Mel Brooks: “It’s good to be the King!”

* I did a rough calculation of cost of ownership. Purchased July 1, 2010 or close enough, and say I update to iPad 2S on March 7, that represents 615 days of ownership.

The unit cost around AUD $1000 at purchase including an accessory or two. In that time, I’m estimating I’ve spent another $1500 on apps, books, and Telstra and AT&T 3G connectivity.

Doing the math, I’ve spent roughly AUD$4.00 (about USD$4.28 at current exchange) per day owning the iPad – about that of a coffee. I’ve achieved much more than $4 worth of satisfaction of ownership.