Introduced in April 2010, Apple sold a million iPads by early May. The company plans to sell a bazillion more as colleges rush to integrate it as a learning system.
Seventy-five students enrolled in the University of Maryland’s Digital Cultures and Creativity (DCC) living and learning program within the Honors College will be given Apple iPads in fall 2010. The device will be integrated within the curriculum for content delivery and instruction. Students will also be able to learn to develop their own iPad applications. Meanwhile the university’s Mobility Initiative will study whether and how mobile technology enhances the student education experience.
George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, says that it will give each incoming freshman the choice of an iPad or a MacBook, also made by Apple, starting in 2010-11. Seton Hill, ditto. The list goes on.
Why all the fuss?
iPad does tricks
“The iPad offers advantages to forward-thinking educators who can integrate it in the classroom in a variety of ways,” says Ryan Faas at Computerworld. The $499 entry-level price (for the 16GB, Wi-Fi-only model) makes it a credible alternative to computers, and it's less disruptive to the learning process. Students and teachers can switch between digital content and more traditional lecture-style teaching as easily as if they were using a textbook.
Andrea Genevieve who blogs at Tech Academy sees potential:
Collaboration. Use iPads in group projects and team-to-team collaboration. Instead of emailing back and forth between professor and student, connect two devices together and move documents or assignments from one to another (similar to the iPhone feature.)
Presentation. For classrooms without a projector or computers, dock a tablet to a set of speakers, much like an iPod, to showcase presentations and movies. The display is reportedly a fine one, and motion graphics and movies are easy to watch.
Information. With the launch of iBooks, the e-reader app, iPad will compete directly with Amazon and the Kindle for electronic texts, books, documents and novels. Material can be updated weekly or monthly with the latest research and news.
Innovation. Give students design tools and let them experiment. Can they create their own apps for a particular course? Can they come up with interesting ways to use the device in class?
Creation. With one instrument students can explore, research, discover, develop, manage, edit, present or publish assignments. No clicks necessary - just a finger touch or two.
Distribution. Much like an iTouch, the iPad includes e-mail and internet access, complete with wi-fi capabilities and 3G opt-in packages. Sharing and distribution can happen inside of a classroom.
DePauw University computer science professor Dave Berque is a longtime advocate of tablet computing in education. He holds to the belief that pedagogy should drive technological choices, never vice-versa. Tablet-style devices have advantages. Many academic subjects rely on freehand input to communicate ideas that are difficult to express with a mouse and keyboard. Whether exploring mathematics (equations), economics (supply-demand curves), physics (inclined-planes), writing (editing-marks), history (map-annotation) or Japanese language (Kanji character construction), it is easy to see the power of the pen for teachers and learners. These uses are such a natural fit that the growing general interest in touch and pen technology will surely drive additional educational applications.
The iPad is neither fish nor fowl. In some ways it is an oversized iPhone, but with no phone capability. It lacks some of the computing capabilities of a laptop. It lacks a traditional QWERTY keyboard. So, despite all its cool factor, you still need a computer and a phone.
Many observers are concerned that Apple does not have access to textbooks and other content like other vendors who have been in the space for years.
Mellissa Korn at WSJ.com found that the tablet, lauded by many as the next wave in education technology, is not being accepted at George Washington University and Princeton University because of network stability issues. Cornell University also sees connectivity problems and is also concerned about bandwidth overload. George Washington University's wireless network security features don’t support the iPad—or iPhone and iPod Touch, for that matter.
There’s an app for that
Convinced that iPad is here to stay, Oracle developed a Siebel CRM for Apple iPad. By leveraging Oracle's server-based REST API and the open development platform provided by Apple’s iPhone OS SDK, Siebel CRM customers can use iPad to access Siebel CRM data in real-time. Blackboard is on board, too.
Study.Net is a web-based learning service, used by the University of Pennsylvania, Georgia State University, University of California, Berkeley and Emory University. Study.Net is ready to become one of the first companies to make Harvard Business Publishing and Ivey Publishing and Darden Business Publishing course materials available on eReader and iPad formats. CEO Jay McGoodwin says his company is device agnostic. He neither loves iPad nor hates it. But he adds that the iPad buzz has rapidly accelerated the adoption of eReaders and collaborative learning systems.