The Mario Blog
The iPad as classroom blackboard?

TAKEAWAY: As rumors would have it, the iPad may come out in a smaller version, but in my head I envision, instead, a giant iPad, standing in the front of every classroom, replacing the traditional blackboard

TAKEAWAY: As rumors would have it, the iPad may come out in a smaller version, but in my head I envision, instead, a giant iPad, standing in the front of every classroom, replacing the traditional blackboard

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Photo by Yana Paskova, courtesy of The New York Times

Behold the school blackboard—-or greenboard, as the case may be. It is the most functional, reusable and iconic of classroom artifacts.

We all have different memories of a certain classroom we never forget, and perhaps moments of glory or fear when asked by the teacher to go and write something on the blackboard at the front of the class.

In my case, as homeroom president at Miami Senior High School, one of my duties was to erase the blackboard before the next class period. In the process, I would stay a few minutes later while my fellow students evacuated the classroom, and I had a chance to admire Miss Lovrich’s absolutely beautiful calligraphy.

Years later, as a professor at Syracuse University, and one who used the blackboard extensively while teaching 120 students at a time in a compact auditorium, my memories related to the blackboard have to do with a certain fellow professor—an older woman with very senior ranking—- who taught a class immediately after me.

One day I forgot to erase all of my writing on the blackboard, so the next day she said gently: My dear Mario, a teacher who does not erase his blackboard is like someone who does not flush his toilet!

I was 29 years old and I took it to heart: Is that what she thinks of my “qualities of good typography” check list?

Is the blackboard going the way of the Sony Walkman?

You may wonder why I am discussing blackboards today.

Some of you may think—-as I did—- that there are no longer blackboards as we knew them in classrooms worldwide today.

The good news is that there are still blackboards, and, I am told by young people around me who are in school or recently graduated, that there are all types of experimentations with electronic blackboards.

That’s my point today.

As I was reading (and watching the video) of this New York Times story about a new dance that choreographer Jonah Bokaer has created, and which is designed to be seen on your iPad, the image came to be of a giant iPad type blackboard in front of the classroom, one that does all that your iPad does.

Imagine that. How far can we be from something like that?

Let’s hear it for classroom nostalgia

Of course, it may never match the charm of the old blackboard, or its reliability: as long as you have chalk and an eraser, you are in business, no problems with connections, technical glitches, batteries dying or glass breaking.

One thing will probably not change: do you remember that kid in every class who waited for the moment the teacher turned around to write on the blackboard, and then proceeded to create mayhem, pass notes, or throw paper airplanes?

Blackboards: so many erased memories.

Dancing and the iPad

If you like dancing, then don’t miss this new app, titled Fifth Wall, “Fifth Wall,”, available only for iPads, and the latest offering from the 2wice Arts Foundation. Here is an excerpt from the Times piece:

When viewed on an iPad — the box’s dimensions are in direct proportion to the device — the dances can be reframed to confound the viewer’s sense of orientation. In a trippy nod to Fred Astaire’s ceiling dance in “Royal Wedding,” Mr. Bokaer might appear to be standing on one wall or sliding down another.

A video about the making of the Fifth Wall:

Fifth Wall from 2wice Arts Foundation on Vimeo.

Page of the day

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Courtesy of Frank Deville.

The iPad pop up of the Handwriting story

Bild of Germany never stops surprising us: today’s front page is all handwriting, and the lead story laments the fact that calligraphy and handwriting may go out of style altogether.

In today’s edition, Bild reminds readers of the great importance of good handwriting, and how the average person is not writing by hand at all during the course of a day, as most messages are sent via SMS on telephones, or emails via computers.

The Bild story provides the following facts:

85% German companies use PCs.
79% of Germans have a computer, so there is little handwriting involved.
In 2011, 12 million smartphones were sold, almost all touchscreen, again, minimizing the need for handwriting.

And, the question is, according to the Bild report:
Do we need to be able to write by hand?

While kids in school are still required to use handwriting, adults do not, except for signing their name when required.

Why is handwriting important, the editors ask:

“Handwriting keeps our brain working. When we stop handwriting, a specific part of the brain may lie dormant or disappear. This is a part of the brain that is key for moving and gesturing, so a population that does not utilize this part of the brain runs the risk of forgetting things more often…..”

“Not to mention that handwriting carries more of our personality.”

Well, I am glad I am still keeping my Moleskin notebook handy and make notes and scribbles there everyday.

Thanks for reminding us in such visual way, Bild! You’ve done it again.

Of interest today:

– UK: Guardian hands 20 reporters iPhones for added video coverage

– USA: Why the NYT-Flipboard deal is a smart move
– USA: Four things for journalists to consider as full New York Times content comes to Flipboard

The iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet

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Video walkthrough of the iPad prototype of iPad Design Lab

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