Conspiracy TheoriesDr. Mark Winegar

Ed Techie Buzz by Dr. Mark Winegar


The “ed tech” discussion boards are buzzing with the usual suspects and conspiracy theorists hinting at a takeover attempt of education by Apple Inc.. Their fears are based on Apple’s new e-Book authoring system and iTunes University.


While iTunes University is an attractive LMS (Learning Management System) so are COURSEsites by Blackboard, and Moodle. All three are free! All three essentially offer the same capabilities. However, iTunes University is open only to institutions.


Apple’s word processor Pages has been churning out e-Books for some time now so e-Book authoring is not a new area of endeavor for the leader in computer technology. Apple iBooks Author simply specializes in e-Books. It has improved features which one would only expect. And this product is also free. The only requirement is upgrading to OS X Lion ($29.99 US).


Then there are those pseudo-developers whining about the demise of Flash. Once again there is an attempt to blame the late Steve Jobs for this diabolical plot. They forget HTML5 is an industry standard agreed upon by all of the major players involved with the World Wide Web. Even Adobe has plans for a HTML5 compliant world. I guess it’s tough for some people to learn new skills.


Speaking of skills! The most important piece of news to adult & higher education this week was The State of the Union Address. President Obama is rallying the troops around providing high tech job skills to unemployed and underemployed workers and lowering tuition rates. It’s about time!


Teaching the right high tech job skills requires attention to the specific needs of local and regional employers. This means schools are going to have to do needs assessment studies. They can look to community colleges for guidance there because such studies have long been required of them. I also suggest program advisory boards comprised of current professionals in the field. Hiring faculty with “real-world” experience is another essential ingredient for success.


Is college tuition too high? U.S. News & World Report (9/28/2011) reported findings from Moody Analytics, “The rate of growth in tuition far exceeded real estate appreciation even during the housing bubble.“ These costs cannot be sustained. However, our colleges and universities are weighed down by tons of fixed overhead expense. Look for innovative training opportunities from startups who have few expenses and can make decisions quickly. Perhaps we will see some innovative collaborations between brick-and-mortar institutions and web-savvy startups?


There is still the problem of getting learners and high-tech teachers together in the same place and time. Or is there? Much of the training can be done online using Learning Management Systems such as iTunes University and COURSEsites by Blackboard. It’s nice when you can improve service and productivity while lowering overhead cost.



About the author:

Dr. Mark Winegar is dedicated to advancing the quality of teaching by means of innovative technology. He is an independent IT Consultant, Educator, and Author; his specialties include software engineering, teaching, podcasting, speaking, and writing. You can learn more on Dr. Winegar’s YouTube channel CompSci Open Learning Initiative or follow him on Twitter: @MarkWinegar