Well in our class anyway...
Our 3 week iPad trial ended on Friday, much to the dismay of the students.
They have loved (this could be an understatement) using the iPad in class. Consistently the first thing they chose on the iPad were games. It gave me a really quick understanding of how gaming in educational is a powerful tool for students. But also finding Apps with a balance of gaming to learning is an important factor!
I've discovered a lot about the iPad from having the chance to work with it myself and within a classroom context. It's incredibly simple and intuitive to navigate and use. A friend's 4 year old daughter had a play when she visited and the iPads ease of use was immediately apparent. She picked it up and understood very quickly that you press a picture to play an App and press the only button to quit a game. Simple and easy. The same applied for the students - many of them picked it up and were using it with little instruction.
Most of the Apps that we had on the iPad were free - which is amazing in an educational setting. It seemed that every few days you could go back to the App store and find new Apps up at the iTunes store. This will change further once the iPad is released in NZ and the iPad Apps can be accessed via a NZ account rather than having to have a US iTunes account. Another bonus is that a lot of the more expensive Apps tend to have trial Apps so that you can get the idea of what it can offer you before you buy the real deal. In an educational setting this is a massive possibility - opening up lots of new content weekly for free - free is always great to a teacher!
I think one thing that would be ideal in a classroom is the iWorks package as Google Docs and many of the other collaborative writing websites don't work, most of them because they are flash based sites. The Apple vs Adobe standoff won't change anytime soon, this is not a problem (definitely an annoyance at times) but means that there needs to be a shift in thinking in making the iPad work online in the way we are used to at times. It definitely wasn't like putting a laptop in the classroom as many of the sites we use daily in class can't be accessed on the iPad at the moment.
It's definitely something I can see myself buying but not in the first round at the moment. But I really do understand and see that the iPad is a work in process, not a final product. For it to be an ultimate class gadget I would really like to see a camera on the iPad - this would allow for students to take photos and videos easily and would make it an ideal gadget for ePortfolios creation and sharing (create all the content via the iPad, then collate and share using Keynote - simple!)
I also think the iPad really is a personal learning tool and will be highly successful when the students have a better understanding of the Apps available to them and are using it more than just 'when they have a turn'. I will be continuing to watch and read articles as the iPad gains momentum in schools and around the world. It will be really interesting to see where the 'next big technological advancement' for schools will head to in the future.