An Open Letter to Apple


Dear Apple,

As you know, I am very fond of you. We’ve been through alot together over the years. We’ve grown together. So I want you to know that what I say, I say out of love.

OK, here we go…

You’ve completely missed the boat!

It’s so basic. All this time you’ve been wrapped up in development and designing the next new thing that you’ve missed out on something incredible right before your eyes!

Are you ready? It’s Keynote. Yes, Keynote.

It can be used almost exclusively to introduce the most important aspects of digital age teaching and learning. Seriously. Take a look at this simple visual of a hierarchy of learning with technology that even the newbiest of newbies can appreciate.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 4.19.05 PM

Let me be more specific.

You start with data storage and retrieval. You get into visual literacy developed into digital storytelling which lends itself, with timed/automated animations, to an introduction to programming.

keynote image editorYou can get into visual literacy and art with vector graphics (Keynote is a powerful image editor so TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT, duh…).

Children can gain experience troubleshooting with popular formats and get into presentations which is what it was meant for in the first place. You take it further than that when you get into expositions in any subject developing deeper understanding of concepts while demonstrating understandings. What’s more, as you get into interacting longer with curricular content and you get into developing ideas explaining yourself to an audience you are taking traditional literacy into the new literacies of the digital age.

With digital story telling you enter literacy with genre from here even introducing filmmaking and drama. You get into the grammar of cinema. Because you can integrate from other platforms like GarageBand you get into app smashing.

You can explain things, communicate better, you can develop your ideas while working within the software and from there you can learn how to publish and share it. You can convert from Keynote to QuickTime and upload QuickTime to YouTube. Talk about potentially expanding your audience and teaching digital age skills with digital footprint management!

It’s also about critical thinking. How can you make it do what you want it to do even if it takes the software further than the developers themselves ever realized it could go? (Visual literacy itself is already a form of this by the way).  It’s about sharing. It’s about digital citizenship; how do you get images, sounds or video from outside how do you source them?

It’s about inspiration. How can (should!) you use other people’s ideas and incorporate them into your own? It’s about creativity. It’s about everything you need to know to get ready for deeper and more complicated software once you’re finished if you’re still convinced it’s needed! 😉

Let’s break these down a bit based on the new overview visual from above:

Foundational Skills

  1. Data storage and retrieval
    1. Saving on school network/shared drive, organizing files and folders, Finder management, Spotlight
    2. Developing other skill sets within Mac
      1. How does the trackpad (iPod/iPad screen) work?
      2. Customising trackpad options, command keys, dock location
  2. Discovering tools within an application
    1. Applications all have some similarities. All have toolbars and sub sets of functionalities discoverable through them. Don’t lose this lesson!
  3. Going further with customisation
  4. As with technology we are all learners, collaboration gets started at some point in this stage to be built upon throughout. Every child will have the chance to become an expert at some time by learning/mastering/figuring something out first.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 5.06.09 PM.png

5. Images created in Keynote can be used as screenshots that can be used in other
    applications, posters, websites, as gif memes, whatever, but all leading to ancillary lesson topics and ideas

6. These images can be turned into png formats and further altered within Preview as well
teaching further skills with Mac


  1. Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 4.32.36 PMAnything that goes in is for the sole purpose of communicating better
    1. Images chosen for import (Better yet made!)
    2. Any text
    3. Any sounds
    4. Videos
    1. Rule of thirds
    2. CARP Design
    3. Colour theory
  3. Any genre
  4. Any subject area
  5. Consideration of tenor and tone for a chosen audience
  6. The grammar of cinema linked to photography, filming 
  7. Conversion of files to Quicktime
  8. Uploading to YouTube raising all sort of questions like
    1. Copyright, citation/attribution and creative commons
    2. Tags, SEO and online promotion
    3. Digital footprint management
  9. Pair, group and class projects for communicating for the purposes of collaboration with peers and not solely to an audience

Check out this YouTube playlist on using Keynote for Digital Story Telling+


I may support teachers and learners with the use of technology for learning and life but I am a firm believer that the learning doesn’t happen to a person but in a person. Right from the start I employ the art (carefully chosen word here) of the gradual release of responsibility model. An “art” in this case as it is different for every child and decisions made on the level of implementation are very spontaneous.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 5.13.08 PM

This is the synergy that can be achieved by keeping the end in mind. As a technology integration specialist with predominantly elementary years experience I have come to see this as my ultimate goal. Children given the power to increasingly direct their own learning. This is not just about Keynote granted, but the ability to source ideas, track direction and share assessments with peers. (This is another blog post to come.)

Naturally, as is the nature of hierarchical models, I must start with the first stage, or foundational, skills. We’ve already examined many ways in which Keynote enables this.

And not only is all this true, but, it also makes Keynote a gateway to all of the other incredibly empowering tools created to help take children further out into our connected world, many of which also provided by the “fruit company”.

So, there you have it Apple. You need to fall in love with Keynote as I have. It has a much larger role to play in education and you need to help people discover this. Maybe then your marketing team will make it up to us all for having missed this. I tease because I care “Marketing Team”. It’s just a literary vehicle. 🙂

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 5.14.54 PM

HScreen Shot 2016-04-16 at 5.35.52 PMey, have I forgotten something?

More related links to workshop sessions and resources here:

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 4.35.27 PM


Free courses available here.

See you online!


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About Sean Thompson

Sean is an educational technology specialist at Sacred Heart International School in Tokyo. He travels extensively across southeast Asia speaking, presenting and participating in discussions regarding the effective integration of technology in an educational setting. In 2014 he partnered up with DEEP Learning to support the team with the development, promotion and execution of professional development conferences for teachers worldwide. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader , a Google education Trainer and a Certified Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
This entry was posted in Digital Citizenship, Digital Learning, Literacy, New Media, Producing, Producing, Publishing, Sharing, Professional Development, Publishing, Remix, Sharing, Visual Literacy. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to An Open Letter to Apple

  1. You seem so excited about this! Your enthusiasm is great!

  2. Dear Sean,
    I completely agree with you about keynote. You can use it in so many ways, it is in my idea the easiest accessible keystone in the software tools of Apple for education. For teachers and for students. Very good article to give feedback to Apple what great piece of software they created and what we would like to have more in it. And to broaden the knowledge about the use of keynote.
    But I don’t really agree with you Apple “missed the boat” 😉

  3. Pingback: Keynote for Digital Story Telling | Technology Embedded: Living, Learning, Teaching

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