(Kyle Tomson, developer of Crack the Books series, at ASHA 2013)
Around ASHA 2014, Kyle released his latest series of applications, titled the Crack the Books series. I have been fortunate enough to have used and witnessed the development behind a couple of these applications, and I am absolutely awestruck. The quality of these applications from behind the scenes is evident from the different reading levels to the interactivity to the pristine images. From a development standpoint, these are high-quality and took a lot of time, research, and money to develop. On the application store, consumers get to see the finished product and the price, but they do not have knowledge of the inner workings of application development. It takes a team - content writers, researchers, educators, graphic designers, programmers, narrators, etc. When we see a piece of software on other websites, we can expect to be charged upwards of $50 for this type of quality work. Unfortunately, the way in which the application store is rooted, society expects software for their devices to be 99 cents or less - this is pathetic for even applications such as Angry Birds and Toca Store, which earn a significant amount of money but took hundreds more to develop than the amount they charge. Kyle tackles this problem by charging a fee to download for the quality and time spent creating his applications, plus a subscription service for future updates.
But enough about generosity and politics - the point of this post is to tell you why it is important to give back and donate to the Mobile Education Store's latest project. If we are investing in iPads as teaching tools in the classroom, then we need to also invest in quality educational content that can be used with an entire classroom of readers from low to high reading levels, engages our students, and grows in content. There are not that many textbooks available for the iPad and those that are out there currently have static displays. This is not taking advantage of the iPad as a learning tool - iPads can be touched, play video, show visuals, read text aloud, etc. The Crack the Books series is revolutionary in the fact that there are five different reading levels that contain the same content but make sure that each student has the same access (including text-to-speech), include interactive visuals, are motivating in interactivity and visually, have high-quality images, are researched (include citations for content), and allow for assessment of knowledge through flash cards, notes, and quizzes. If that doesn't convince you of the quality of these applications, YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS VIDEO to see how amazing these applications are:
Take it from someone who understands technology, what it takes behind the scenes to create such amazing content, and the value of technology in education - if you want to continue using iPads as educational tools, we need to invest in content like this. Content that is accessible for all learners - visual, textual, auditory, sensory - and multiple reading levels within one classroom. Content that continues to grow in quantity and quality. Content that USES the iPad's technology to its advantage and is not static. I highly recommend backing this project whether you are an educator, therapist, or parent and want to see quality content like this in the schools. Donate by clicking the image below to go to the Kickstarter website for this campaign and clicking "back this project". I did.