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High school teacher creates new educational app

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After three months of beta testing by K-12 and college students, the eNotebook app went live in the app store last month for $4.99.

A Maryland high school math teacher has launched an educational app for the iPad that allows students to add their own notes and markups to teachers’ Word, PDF, and PowerPoint files without the need to convert those files to another format.

Kevin Giffhorn had the idea for the eNotebook app, which he says is the first app of its kind, roughly a year ago—around the time he saw iPads starting to make their way into education.

“Everyone was having to adapt their files,” said the Carlisle, Pa., grad whose first teaching job was also at Carlisle High School.

Struck by the possibilities of an app that would allow for quick and easy access to a variety of files, as well as note taking, Giffhorn founded WeLearn Educational Software and commissioned the Silicon Valley company IndiaNIC to develop his idea into a working app.

“It’s just really neat working with them and seeing something that I wrote down on paper and had in my head … become a workable, usable app,” Giffhorn said. “It’s kind of amazing still that no one’s done it yet, but it’s nice to be first.”

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After three months of beta testing by K-12 and college students, the app went live in Apple’s App Store last month for $4.99.

The basics of the eNotebook app are simple. Students can take a teacher or professor’s presentations, whether they are created in Word, PowerPoint, or PDF format, and add their own notes or markups to them just as if they were working with a hard copy—whether that means writing a formula or date in the margins or highlighting an important piece of information.

What the eNotebook app does goes beyond its basic functions, however. There are numerous possible implications of such a software program.

While other parts of the classroom have changed—such as blackboards being replaced with interactive whiteboards—the notebook has not, Giffhorn explained.

“My students are still using the same three-ring binder their grandparents used,” he said. “I really believe my app will be able to move my students into the 21st century classroom.”

Eventually replacing binders and notebooks with tablets and software like the eNotebook educational app could improve student organization and simply reduce the weight of student backpacks.

“It’s going to save kids time from writing down everything on the board, because they’re going to be using the teacher’s pre-configured notes and just adding their own notes too it,” Giffhorn said. “It’s one less thing for the kid to have to do. It allows the kid to focus more on the actual learning.”

Such a tool could be especially useful for those students with learning disabilities who have a hard time copying notes from a board, the teacher added.

For more news about educational apps, see:

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10 educational apps recommended by Explore Knowledge Academy

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“I would love to be a part of the movement to change the classroom,” he said. “As the iPad starts getting accepted more into traditional education, I am hoping my app is one of the flagship apps that goes along with it.”

If interest in the app is any indication, Giffhorn might see his hopes become a reality. Schools and universities from as far away as Ireland and California have contacted the high school math teacher about his educational app.

“I knew this wasn’t going to grow overnight, but it’s moving in the right direction,” he said.

For more information about the eNotebook app, visit www.enotebookapp.com.

Copyright (c) 2012, The Sentinel (Carlisle, Pa.). Visit The Sentinel online at www.cumberlink.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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