iPad and education

Mornings are always hard. Kids making beds, taking showers and just getting ready is a routine we enjoy stretching out when the weekends arrive.  Though weekdays demand that we stay on track, nuggets of casual and interesting conversation still flutters in the mist of chaos.

As my daughter ate her morning breakfast, she ask me to tell her some more about the iPad. After telling her my feelings of how Apple missed a great opportunity, she asked me something intriguing.

“We have Apple computers at school, will I get to use this iPad there too?”

I put my spoon down and thought for a second, did I miss the point of why Apple created the iPad?

As I walked my kids to school and we did our daily giggles of rock kicking and short races, the thought of the iPad in the classroom lingered. Maybe the reason why the thought could not be easily dismissed was my team’s continual effort on discovering engaging mobile framework examples. At work I wanted to create a process on how a faculty member could use mobile frameworks to enhance teaching. We set a couple of requirements to assist with practical development:

  • Applications must enhance high-touch intimate classroom environments of 20 or less students per faculty member
  • What can be done on a mobile framework that cannot be done better with a laptop
  • Application development must be design so that each function could be taught and extended (strong MVC design)

With those requirements set, we constantly failed in our efforts with the first two bullets. High-touch classrooms negated back-channel conversation and even when social elements could enhance teaching or learning, the laptop was a better tool for such engagements. It does not mean there has not been successes with teaching using advance mobile phones.  Furman University is exploring the uses of geo-location and teaching with real-time image updates from a remote instructor.  But remember, the engagement is utilizing what the mobile phone was designed for, mobility.

The keys for success is to not only find methods that successfully engage mobile frameworks but also allows the seamless transition of learning that occurs within a classroom to also occur outside as well.  This is where I believe tablets can succeed.  Though I did not have a favorable vibe to the new Apple iPad from a student’s perspective, I do believe the device has potential as a supplemental teaching tool.

With the new iPad and a large true multi-touch screen, movements can be exaggerated, a key element hindered within the cramp screen space of mobile phones and a missing feature on laptops.  Some potential applications:

  • Protein folding or inorganic molecules
  • Human anatomy with 3D rotation
  • Art and photography

This captive screen paired with a proven integrated development platform will allow Apple to further extend their reach within education.

“We’ve always tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts — we want to make the best tech, but have them be intuitive. It’s the combination of these two things that have let us make the iPad.” – Steve Jobs

This is just a start, similar to what Apple did with the iPhone.  This product will only become stronger with each iteration.  I am looking forward to reviewing what can be done on this device.  Does this change the way I feel about the iPad?  On a professional level, definitely; however I still hold reservations on how practical day-to-day use will be on this device.  Maybe I should get one after all?


One thought on “iPad and education

  1. The privacy is the product of Apple’s cleverly crafted publicity process. Without the veil of secrecy, the alleged news leaks wouldn’t produce the attention that they do. You’re a fool if you don’t believe these news leaks are intentionally leaked. I mean honestly, how hard would it really be to trace back to the 1 who leaked it? How many people have access to Apple prototypes?

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