Will iPads Revolutionize Education?

Camps are forming as we draw closer to the release of Apple’s new iPad. Some think it is the worst idea Apple has had this century, and others believe it will revolutionize how we use computers. I have had a number of conversations this week with teachers, principals and consultants about the impact this new device will have on education.

Anti-iPad: “Who wants to carry around a big phone?” “It will not run multiple programs simultaneously” “The keyboard sucks.” I reply to these statements by saying that the iPad is not a productivity tool. I think Steven Jobs gives a great, two minute description of the iPad’s function during his 2010 Keynote address (watch from 6:34 – 8:49) . If you equate learning with productivity, then you would not see any benefit to having iPads or next-gen tablet PCs in school. I have also heard that iPad will not run Flash, but  according to Adobe’s Flash Platform blog “It is [their] intent to make it possible for Flash developers to build applications that can take advantage of the increased screen size and resolution of the iPad.”

Pro-iPad: “Students won’t need to carry around armfuls of textbooks” “eTextbooks can be constantly and easily updated as well as include sound and video files” “You can recline to read it and you don’t need a keyboard or mouse” Don’t underestimate this last statement. Erganomics play a large role in engagement. Ask yourself how long you spend reading and watching stuff on the web with small netbook and iPhone screens. To really see what the iPad can do, watch this clip about how Sports Illustrated is envisioning their magazine on the iPad, and think about what you could do with that kind of functionality in a textbook:

The iPad will revolutionize textbooks and the way we interact with the web. It has opened up endless possibilities for new ways to enhance good pedagogy as well as  improve differentiation and engagement. These devices will change education, so lets be intentional in how we incorporate them into our practice and mindful of both the positive and negative effects.

Update: Here is a very good counter argument to my claim – The iPad and Higher Education.  The discussion that follows is also very interesting.

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4 thoughts on “Will iPads Revolutionize Education?

  1. I was just talking to another teacher about this…he’s Anti and I’m Pro. If the right publishers and app developers get behind it I think that could seal the deal. I’ve said to my students many times, “I wish you all had your own Smart board!”. The iPad could make that possible.

  2. I am so all for the general idea of iPads, and would love to see them in my school next year, but I am really concerned at what can happen without Flash. So many of the Web 2.0 programs require flash, and so we would therefore lose access to ALL those programs! Apps are great and I love them, but sometimes the free versions either don’t exist or just doesn’t match up. So then the question becomes, is it really worth it to jump on board the iPad train and lose access to all those great resources and the possibilities that Web 2.0 applications hold for a future that is heading ‘into the clouds’? With Apple’s policy of never adopting Flash, it really makes you think…

    http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/ – Steve Jobs’ explanation for the Apple no-Flash policy

    • Thanks for clearing up the Flash issue. You bring up a good point about the 2.0 apps. It will be interesting to see how many of those web apps develop an iPod version in the future.

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