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Dubai-based company aims to change the way children read

Dear Literacy is Priceless Readers,

After a long hiatus, I am excited to announce the launch of a new children’s book series we’ve been working on at Bon Education. I hope you enjoy BB and Sam: The Return of the Champion book one of The Adventures of BB and Sam series. To download the book, visit www.BBandSam.com.

- Anna (Co-Creator, The Adventures of BB and Sam)

Bon Education creates innovative multi-media children’s book series, The Adventures of BB and Sam, using Apple iBooks Author.

Dubai, UAE – May 15, 2012 – Education technology company Bon Education announces the launch of The Adventures of BB and Sam – a new multimedia fiction book series that aims to take children on virtual adventures around the globe via the touch of an iPad. Created with Apple’s iBooks Author, the series is filled with text, illustrations, videos, mood music, photo galleries, quiz features and more.

“When Apple launched iBooks Author as a tool to create engaging multi-touch digital textbooks, we immediately thought to ourselves, ‘This is an amazing tool for creating children’s literature as well!’” said Bon Education CEO Anna Batchelder. “So many kids are choosing to watch TV and play video games over reading these days. By adding a variety of digital enhancements and interactivity to our books, we hope kids will rediscover their love of reading in a digital world.”

“When we started working on the first book of the series, BB and Sam: The Return of the Champion, we originally conceived of the book as an app. The story takes place in Thailand so we spent a great deal of time traveling around the country doing research and collecting videos and photos to supplement the written storyline so that our readers could get a real feel for life in Thailand. iBooks Author enabled us to create the book as a multimedia e-book instead and gave us much more control over the creative process” stated Christopher Batchelder, Bon Education President.

With book one now on the Apple iBookstore, the Bon Education team is eager to see how children and families around the world react. In the prototype phase the team worked with children in the UAE, Egypt, New Zealand and North America to get feedback on the story and visuals.

After reading the book, Omania, a 6th grade student in Egypt, wrote to the team, “BB and Sam: The Return of the Champion is an adventure book that has a lot of twists inside it and that shows how creative the writers are. What I like the most about this book are the different characters and how they change around the book. Not only is it entertaining, but it teaches you a lesson. The moral of the book is how being kind and respectful to people is really important.”

When asked about where book two in the series will take place, the Bon Education team did not want to reveal too many details. But, they said there is a good chance BB and Sam will be heading to the Middle East next winter!

Bon Education is an education technology company based in Dubai, UAE with team members in the United States, Middle East and Asia. The company focuses on developing engaging and culturally relevant educational programs and learning products for families and schools around the world. To learn more about The Adventures of BB and Sam visit www.BBandSam.com. Book one of the series can be downloaded for iPad on the Apple iBookstore. Familes can stay up-to-date on the travels of BB and Sam by following the multimedia e-book series on Facebook.

Literacy is Priceless has Moved – Check dotLearnt.com

Anna Batchelder, Bon Education, dot.Learnt

After 3 years of writing Literacy is Priceless, I am officially retiring this blog and moving my education technology digital diary and passion for digital literacy to a new blog – dot.Learnt and a new digital sketchbook.

As my company’s website states:

Fall 2010: Bon Education launches dot.Learnt–a group blog written by team member and guests of Bon Education. dot.Learnt takes on topics at the intersection of education, technology and social media. It is a reflection of the work and thinking Bon does in the Middle East, North America and Asia. To visit dot.Learnt click here. Recent posts include:

Thanks to the thousands of educators and literacy-lovers that have read and left comments on this blog. You have challenged my thinking and opened my eyes to so many wonderful resources and stories. I hope that you will find the content, research and reviews we share on dot.Learnt useful. Please feel free to stop by, leave a comment and add us to your RSS reader.

Sincerely,

Anna

Founder, Bon Education@bon_education, personal sketchbook on education annabatchelder.com/ideas.
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Open Education – What’s Next?

open education, OER, bon education, anna batchelder

Recently I’ve participated in a number of discussions around creating open education repositories and initiatives in the Middle East. Beyond the question of finding sizable portions of open Arabic content to seed a new repository, the questions of sustainability (how do we pay for this?), language (who’s Arabic?) and so what?! (What will people do with the content?) always come up shortly after.

Putting the first two bold words aside, let’s focus on the so what?! of OER. As Max Fawcett (Managing Editor at Alberta Venture) points out in the Open Education Open Debate:

Education, after all, isn’t an acquisitive process, an exercise in procuring and storing information. Instead, learning is a social process, one in which people get from point A – ignorance – to point B – enlightenment – through a messy combination of challenge, failure and consolidation. While there might be a few people who can (and should) take advantage of open-source learning models, there are, I suspect, far more who can’t. Information, in the absence of the ability to apply it, isn’t very valuable, as anybody who’s ever tried to fix their own car using only the supplied factory manual understands only too well”.

This reminds me of a comment in Brian Lamb posted in his blog two years ago:

“If we live in an era of information abundance, why is the primary drive around OERs the publication of more content? And what other activities around the open education movement might be an effective use of our energies? What other needs have to be met?”

In the past couple of years we’ve seen online course initiatives like P2PU and the Open High School take steps towards using the open content out there in meaningful ways. But, I would like to hear directly from teachers and students:

With so much free content out there on the Web, what services or apps would you like to see built in conjunction with all that content to help bring more meaning, value, time savings and/or joy to your education?

Anna

@bon_education

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What skills do kids need to be “successful” today?

While reading EdTech Digest, I came across an interesting page of videos that reflect on what it means to be a 21st Century learner. While I had seen most of the clips before, I had not yet seen the one above.

As you watch, think about:

  • What skills and opportunities do kids need to participate effectively in modern day society?
  • To lead happy, healthy and learning-filled lives?
  • Now, how can you help?!

Anna

@bon_education

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Tips for Teachers that Want to Become EdTech Leaders and Champions

anna batchelder, literacy blog, edtech, education technology, ICT

I was recently asked to put together a one page document titled, “Tips for Teachers that Want to Become Education Technology Leaders and Champions in their Schools”. I thought readers of Literacy is Priceless might enjoy reading the tips as well. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments section of this post!

Anna

@bon_education

1) Always keep learning!

Technology changes rapidly! Therefore it is important to stay on top of the latest news, trends and research. Here are a few recommended resources to start with:

  • International Society for Technology in Education – articles, advocacy kits and conferences about education technology
  • Edutopia – videos and articles about education best-practices
  • eSchoolNews – K-20 technology news
  • Mashable – Learn about the latest applications and trends in social media
  • A mentor – Find someone that knows a lot about education technology. Meet and share ideas and feedback regularly.

2) Share your knowledge.

  • Help other teachers in your building learn how to use and teach effectively with technology by hosting workshops, coaching and mentorship sessions.
  • Keep a classroom blog. Make sure to tell other teachers and students about it!
  • Post your technology-infused lesson plans on open education resource sites like Curriki and OER Commons. Or, on sites like BetterLesson and the Ras al Khaimah Teachers Network.

3) Don’t be afraid to experiment.

See a new technology that could be effective in your classroom?! Try it! Remember, it is okay if the students know how to use the technologies better than you do! As teachers, we learn so much from our students and they from us. By trying new things, practice and an open mind, we can learn and do many great things in the classroom, for and with our students.

4) Start an education technology passion project with your students!

5) Stay connected.

6) Reflect!

  • Keep a teaching journal. Document what went well in your lessons and what you would like to improve in the future.
  • Solicit feedback from your students! What do they enjoy doing in your class? What are their challenges? How can technology be used to address some of these challenges and to inspire enthusiasm towards learning?
  • Create an education technology professional development plan for yourself. Do it! Have fun!

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(Image CC by Brian Hathcock)

A WebQuest about WebQuests (for Teachers)

WebQuest, Bon Education, Digital Literacy, Critical ThinkingThe Web is filled with fabulous teaching and learning content. How do you get students to use the Web to effectively ask questions, find information, evaluate information and create digital content?

Why not try a WebQuest?! “A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the Web” (WebQuest.org).

WebQuests have been around for about 15 years, so in Web history they are tried and true! Over the course of last year, several educators across the Middle East asked me about WebQuests. So, I’ve prepared a WebQuest about WebQuests (for Teachers) to share with participants in an upcoming 21st Century Teaching course I am leading this fall. If you are curious about WebQuests or are about to lead a training on WebQuests, I welcome you to share it!

To exploring the Web with many students this fall!

Anna

@bon_education

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This summer take time to explore these awesome websites!

If you are anything like me, summer is the time to kick back, relax, and explore all of the websites I’ve bookmarked throughout the year. So, when I came across Web 2.0 Cool Tools for Schools, I immediately grabbed a pot full of tea and started playing!

Web 2.0 Cool Tools for Schools is a wiki filled with hundreds of links and short descriptions of online tools for video editing and presenting, collaborating, building student creativity and problem-solving skills and more!

Some of my favorite featured tools include Prezi (a fabulous brainstorming and alternative presentation tool to PowerPoint), Animoto (a website that turns your favorite photos and music into a perfectly orchestrated masterpiece/slideshow), Make Beliefs Comix (a free tool that enables students to make their own comic strips), Teachers TV (a website filled with videos of model classrooms and videos about the things we all think about as teachers – integrating ICT, assessment, differentiated instruction, teaching to every student…).

Web 2.0 Cool Tools for Schools is going to keep me busy for a long time. What a wonderful reference!

Thanks Levna for organizing such a useful wiki!

Anna

@bon_education

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(Image by supagroova. Available under CC license.)

Students brains are being digitally rewired…

What should educators do about it? Or rather, how should educators adapt to the current (and future) generations?

See what Phillip Zimbardo, a psychologist and professor at Stanford University, has to say about how each generation/culture’s perspective on time impacts its thinking about the role and purpose of education…

For a nice summary of the video, make sure to stop by David Bill’s blog–Thoughts on the Converging Worlds of Education and Technology.

Anna

P.S. If you are pressed for “time,” start at minute 6 of the video above!

@bon_education

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Shmoop: CliffsNotes with panache!

I’ve blogged a bit about Shmoop in the past (see: Essential Web Tools for Teachers and Students and Shmoop will make you a better lover…). Check out why the Shmoop study guides and new Economics section are so great in the screencast below! The tool I used to make the screencast was Screenr–a fabulous, new and EASY tool that lets you record your screen and post videos to Twitter, Facebook, your classroom blog and more in a snap!

Anna (@bon_education)

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Students speak out: What does it mean to be a 21st Century Learner?

Recently, while reading Bill Boyd – the Literacy Adviser, I came across the video below in which students from Ringwood School discuss what it means to be a 21st Century Learner.  What they say is actually very much in sync with the vision I hear adults at edtech conferences (such as ISTE) discuss all of the time. Now, the trick is how do we get large systems of schools to move swiftly in this direction! If you know of a school (or district) that embodies the vision painted below or that uses technology in creative and innovative ways, I welcome you to post a link to its website in the comments section of this blog so that other LIP readers can learn and discuss.

To learning in the 21st Century and beyond!

Anna

@bon_education

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What Pac-Man can teach educators about learning…

How do I get someone to learn something that is long and difficult and takes a lot of commitment, but get them to learn it well? -Dr. James Gee

Good question! Take a look at the Prezi below for inspiration – a beautiful narrative in both content and form by Maria Andersen! To make your own Prezi, visit Prezi.com!

Another great weekend of digital exploring!

Anna (@bon_education)

Easy Screencast Tools: Jing and Vodpod

more about “Curriki Summer of Content 2010“, posted with vodpod
This afternoon I spent some time playing with the free versions of Jing (a screencast tool) and Vodpod (a great website for aggregating your favorite online videos and for converting them into formats that can be embedded in your own blog). As a way to test how both services work together, I put together the above video on the Curriki Summer of Content.
If you’re looking for a tool that allows you to easily create and share screencasts via URL, Twitter, Facebook, your classroom blog and more, make sure to visit Jing’s homepage to watch their quick video tutorial. Since I do a number of technology workshops, I plan to use Jing as a tool for creating video tutorials that I can email students in advance that way I can focus on more advanced and interesting topics during face-to-face sessions.
As of today, Jing videos are not directly exportable to WordPress.com blogs. So, if you use the tool with WordPress, make sure to use Vodpod to publish your screencasts easily to your blog!
Happy screencasting! And, don’t forget to apply to the Curriki Summer of Content.
Anna

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A Time to Reflect: Teaching with Technology in the UAE

Last fall the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research approached me about working with them on the creation of a 21st Century Teaching Scholarship program for teachers, as well as the build out of an online portal for Ras al Khaimah educators to exchange ideas, lessons and best practices in English and Arabic. I welcome you to listen to my podcast reflection above to learn about the program, the amazing work and collaborations of educators in Ras al Khiamah and my post program reflections.

I would like to thank the Foundation for providing me the opportunity to create and teach a program for such passionate educators.

To global collaboration and education!

Anna

Founder, Bon Education

@bon_education

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What makes learners tick? The science of motivation…

When it comes to your classroom, is autonomy, mastery and purpose the rule of the learning game?! Take a look at the video below to see what really drives people…

Thanks to Brian Kuhn for commenting on my post “If 12-year-olds ruled the world, what would school be like?” which led me to his blog post “This is your brain on technology,” which led me to the Wired magazine article, “The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains,” which led me to another Wired article, “Cognitive Surplus: The Great Spare Time Revolution,” which introduced me to Daniel Pink and his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, which inspired me to check Audible (shipping of books to Dubai is expensive!) to download it in audio format so that I could listen to the book on my run, which led me to lots of thinking about my own motivation and that of my team, which led me to notice my friend Sid‘s Facebook post about the video above!

Another day, another digital journey…

Anna

@bon_education

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Pay it Forward: Paid Summer Opportunities for Teachers

Dear Literacy is Priceless Readers,

I am writing to share a paid summer opportunity that I think you and/or your colleagues and graduate students may be interested in.

As you know, one of the organizations I work with is a non-profit called Curriki. Curriki’s mission is to provide free high quality and open source education resources to teachers and students around the globe regardless of their social and economic circumstances. To give you a sense of Curriki’s impact here are a few stats:

  • Curriki currently has 35,000+ resources that have been contributed by publishers, professional developers and passionate educators. The resources are reviewed by expert teachers as well as the community.
  • The site receives 1.6+ million unique visitors/year from every country on the globe. Our largest user groups are educators in the US, India, Pakistan, South Africa, the UK and increasingly in the Middle East that then go onto using the resources with millions more students year after year.
  • To read stories about Curriki’s user community in the UAE, India, US, Morocco and more, visit the Curriki stories page.

This summer Curriki is providing paid stipends to educators that would like to contribute high quality instructional units to Curriki.org that will then be provided for free to schools in need of instructional resources. If you know of people that would be interested, I would be grateful if you could pass along the opportunity below. Feel free to post the information on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Thanks!

Anna

Founder, Bon Education

@bon_education

Share your lessons with the world and get paid with Curriki’s Summer of Content

For the third annual Summer of Content effort, Curriki is soliciting premium content for Grades 6–12 in science, technology, and math, and for content in ELL / ESL for all grades.

Do you have an instructional unit (or units) you’re proud of that you’d like to publish and get paid for? Interested in earning money this summer to develop a new unit that will be shared with a global audience?

This year, the Summer of Content Awards will be granted to student-focused units which include support material for teachers. In other words, we are looking for activities, webquests, worksheets, quizzes, and games that will engage students and help make Curriki a destination for students as well as teachers.

Apply by July 9, 2010. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. To learn more visit:

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Demo/SOCForm2010

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Images CC via here, here and here.


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