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New Zealand Geographic apps in production

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Started by James Frankham 21 Sep 2012 11:30am () Replies (1)

NZGeo wetlands

Hi All

I wanted to introduce myself and a new project relevant to you all that we've been working on for a few years, and also pose some questions. I apologise for the cross-posting (also on iPad group) as it seems relevant to both. 

For the last three years New Zealand Geographic has been producing a ground-breaking new series of resources, lavishly digitally illustrated and comprehensively connected to the new curriculum with teachers guides, class activities and extensions back to the online New Zealand Geographic archive (probably the content of another post).

There are five folios in this tablet-based resource, each focussing on a key biome in New Zealand — alpine, forest canopy, wetland, cave and river systems — and the host of creatures that interact there. It is primarily a literacy resource, as all curriculum-connected resources must be I guess, but also has strong themes of ecology, environment and science for the natural world threads of the curriculum.

It is a multi-folio app where you download a single shell app from the AppStore (Or Android Marketplace if we support that platform) or through Apple's Volume Purchasing Program that schools might use to propagate apps through MDM to many devices... then five folios are available for download within that.

We are currently seeking funding to make those downloads free, but in the instance we're unsuccessful, the shell will be free and folio downloads available for a small charge, dependent upon our market research. Each folio has a corresponding Teachers' Guide which is full of activities that mean you can knock off curriculum requirements with ease and steer classes through the resources. More on this below.

The app itself is multi-orientation. In landscape orientation students are exploring; moving through a landscape (like the image above) employing parallax scrolling (where the foreground moves faster than the background, giving a 3D effect) and animation. Audio is playing appropriate to the landscape and when a student clicks on a species it brings up information about that species and plays it's call. In this way they can explore through a number of animations and images and see the cast of the biome.

NZGeo tablet

Turning the tablet into portrait orientation takes the student into story mode, with text and fewer illustrations. They can read to themselves, using tooltips to define difficult words at a click, or press play to have the story read to them by the 'kaumatua', their guide through the wilderness of New Zealand. Other graphics highlight Fun Facts and Did You Know break-outs to keep them stimulated. At any point of course, a teacher can scan the room and see which students are reading and which are exploring by the orientation of their tablets.

With another button students can click through to online forums hosted on the New Zealand Geographic website to share what they've learnt, either in the resource itself or from activities in the Teachers' Guide. Student around the country can compare results, compete in quizzes and collaborate on shared projects, extending the small classroom nationwide using the fast network the Ministry has been installing for such purposes.

There will be a forum for teachers to share new ways of using the resources as well, or to hook up with other teachers elsewhere in the country using the resource to arrange projects or compare results. Why did the kids from Waitutu not here any kokako on their bird count while those from Opua did? Because kokako are extinct in the South Island — learning outcomes that can be discovered through social inquiry.

In addition the apps connect to relevant features on the New Zealand Geographic digital archive (every one of the 116 issues ever published) as html5 flipping books to extend fast readers to mature texts.

So, to my questions for you;

1. How many tablet devices are currently being used, to your knowledge, in New Zealand schools? [ie, how big is the market, currently.] We've had lots of anecdotal feedback from enthusaists saying 'heaps' but no one has been able to quantify their assumptions in any way.

2. What is the rate of growth of these devices in education, (on either BYOD or shared resource basis). [ie, how big will the market be in the future.] Again, we'd like something empirical, or evidence based.

3. Is there any funding that you know of for development of curriculum-connected resources through the Ministry? 

4. Who is the person to talk to in the Ministry regarding this area of technology? Do they want to promote tablet devices? Or is this all just the dream of geeks and Apple enthusiasts?

5. In the event that we can't get funding, what would you consider to be a reasonable cost for one of these folio downloads? (It's very high quality content, curriculum-connected, each of the five folios have the text and picture equivalents of a 32-page reader, with anumation, parallax, audio, interactivity, read-aloud function and forum connectivity for social inquiry learning.]

6. Does anyone know of any other organisations which may be interested in funding this project (the funds required for development are modest)?

Thanks all, look forward to your responses.

James Frankham
PUBLISHER
NEW ZEALAND GEOGRAPHIC 

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