What does Apple’s latest iThing mean for education?
Whilst Apple are certainly not the first to enter into the tablet market, it’s iPad could make a significant impact within education. The word tablet is often used to describe a mobile computer with a keyboard and a rotating screen which can fold back on itself. Mobile devices like Apple’s iPad are described as a ‘slates‘. In fact Rich has certainly been ahead of the curve as he has been using pen based slate systems from Motion Computing for years!
So what specific advantages does the Apple iPad have to offer eduction?
- The OS does not have to be installed by the University
- It boots in 15 seconds from solid state storage
- Users can update their OS without IT department help or affecting set-up
- It is immune to virus attack
- The student would have direct access to iTunesU, which has already been embraced by many top Universities such as The Open University, Birmingham City University, The University of Edinburgh, Oxford University, Cambridge University, and many more!
- Library material could be delivered directly to the student
- Book publishers will be offering course-books as digital downloads
- Students can manage their educational digital lives, subscribing to University feeds and podcasts
- The iPad could be used to present work, and run full ‘keynote’ and ‘powerpoint’ presentations
- Like the iPod/iPhone, the iPad should provide Microsoft exchange email, calendaring and contacts services
- The student could make use of fast wifi 802.11n connections across campus
- Students could carry all of their course-books and research with them, the iPad weighs only 1.5 pounds
- With 10 hours usage and 1 month standby, it can last all day on one charge and be easily charged via USB.
- Students can make use of Wikis and Blogs and collaborate with each other
- The iPad is an iPod, web browser, feed reader, ebook reader and more it only costs $499 / £319
- There are no media players, codecs or drivers to install and maintain. It just works.
- Rich and varied educational apps are available for the iPad from the app store, especially in the field of medicine
- It is almost perfect for exploring the GeoWeb and mapping services across campus
- Computer science students can use a freely available software development kit learning to code their own applications
- Many languages are supported through an enhanced software keyboard
- It is intuitive, reliable and easy to use
So, what don’t I like about the Apple iPad?
I think the iPad is crying out for a camera. In fact I think it needs 2 cameras, in a front and rear facing design. The front facing ‘iSight‘ camera could be used for Video conferencing using Skype and iChat, with the rear camera used for mapping and augmented reality. Alas the iPad has a distinct lack of cameras ;/
Lack of flash support. Although this might be seen as a severe problem now, the industry may be moving towards HTML5 and web streaming technologies that do not use flash. This could mean this is not as serious an omission as first thought. Using YouTube will not be a problem as it is available in app form, just like on the iPhone. For instance when I click on YouTube content from the Facebook app on my iPhone, the YouTube app launches and plays the video. When I have finished watching the YouTube video, the facebook app launches and takes me back to where I was. I can see flash support working in the same way on the iPad if flash was to appear as an app.
The iPad is single user. I don’t like the seaming inability to log into the iPad so it can be easily shared between multiple users. I was hoping that an iSight camera would use face recognition to log each user in.
I would have preferred GPS in every model. It would be good to see the 3G enabled iPad models cheaper, and the wifi models scrapped. While the wifi models will be able to display your location using wifi access points, GPS would allow more accurate use of Google Maps.
There are a few minor negative points about the iPad, but they are far outweighed by enormous potential for the platform. With the trends in mobile and cloud use sky-rocketing, I believe the iPad can only be a success!
Gizmodo has some excellent Slate information
BBC focus magazine iRex iLiad Book Edition £449, winner of the best current ebook reader.