Several years ago (2013), while working on my Ed.S. in Instructional Technology at Kennesaw State University, I was tasked with evaluating an emerging technology. I chose eReaders and examined my district’s financial status to create a presentation that attempted to justify moving from traditional textbooks in the classroom to eReaders. Although I strongly believed this was the wave of the future, I recognized that the technology did not really exist yet to make this happen in a widespread manner.
Today, I had the opportunity to meet with John Cochran, business analyst for TreeCabin. TreeCabin is a relatively new startup company that is aiming to bring what I dreamed of years ago into reality. TreeCabin began with an idea akin to Netflix for college textbooks. Students would pay a flat fee every month and be able to rent all of the textbooks they need for the semester. Textbooks would be protected within the platform so that students could not take screenshots of the materials, which kept copyrighted material protected.
From the initial idea for college students, a K-12 district platform has evolved. John previewed that proposal for me today. When I left the meeting, I tweeted the following:
During the Fall semester of 2009, an eReader pilot was conducted at Princeton University. The final report noted that students involved in the study suggested that better highlighting options, annotation tools, and true “flipping of pages” would be great additions to an eReader. TreeCabin has made these adjustments and more and offers a truly amazing platform that is tailored to adjust to numerous mobile devices.
Within the TreeCabin platform, K-12 students would each have a unique login with no requirement for an email address. Upon logging in, students will see a school district branded desktop with a bookshelf containing all of their textbooks for the semester or the school year. What makes TreeCabin truly amazing is the level of interactivity available with these textbooks. Students can zoom in on text, highlight, annotate, and more. Additionally, teachers can annotate and highlight then make those notations available to their students. With this platform, reading a textbook becomes truly interactive!
If you are a district contemplating moving to a digital platform for textbooks, TreeCabin (@TreeCabin) is definitely a company you should consider. CEO Paul Ngalle (@paulngalle) is passionate about making this work for K-12 students!
Almost a week ago, I published my first post on this, my brand new site. As I wrote, I felt compelled to share that a fear of failure can hold us back from trying new things. I wrote, and I published, and I sat back, pleased with myself for helping others.
The next day, I was to co-host my first webinar on Skype for my department. I felt confident in my skills, unwilling to allow a fear of failure to hold me back. The first show went so well! Our presentation was great, a high number of attendees, technology mostly worked, and comments from the audience were complimentary. Then, unbeknownst to me or my co-host and sometime between our 3 pm and 5 pm shows, disaster struck.
We had left our laptops hardwired and ready to go for the 5 pm show. There were no power issues, no network problems, but everything still went haywire. Neither of us could present the PowerPoint we were using. The spinning circle that we all fear was present on both of our computers. I took deep breaths and tried to think rationally through the problem. Everything I tried failed. Frustration built and I wanted to cry. What had happened?
And then I remembered my blog post from the night before. Fear of failure holds us back. I rolled away from my computer for a couple of seconds and then remembered that our team lead was also a presenter. I quickly emailed the presentation to her and called with a request that she take over and show the PowerPoint.
An old saying, "Physician, heal thyself" came to mind. I had been so busy sharing what I just knew was beneficial knowledge with all of you amazing readers that I neglected to give myself time between webinars to reboot. Thank God for having an extra presenter who always answers her phone!
No matter how good we become with technology, failure is still always a possibility. Have courage, and try not to let that fear hold you back.
Leah Kurtz, Ed.S.
I am a Technology Training/Integration Specialist for a public school district north of Atlanta, Georgia. I am passionate about supporting teachers and students in transforming their classrooms using technology. I am a firm believer that technology should not be a special occasion; rather, technology is at its best when it is a seamless part of our everyday actions.