Saturday, May 1, 2010
iPad in Education: Initial Readings
At the ITSC 2010 Conference there was a definite buzz about the 2 days learning that lay ahead. But there was also another buzz running through the room - that of the iPad. A few of the educators that were in the room had their own iPad's. The excitement of this was quickly noted as one person pulled it out to use to be accompanied by "ohhhh's" and "ahhh's" as it would quickly disappear for a round of the table with keen people.
But the question is, does the buzz that exist belong to something shiny and new. Or does it belong to something that is going to "revolutionize education" the way that many articles across the web suggest.
So far there seems to be 2 distinct camps in the iPad conversation. Centered around the abilities and restrictions of the iPad. How it can interact or work for students and educators and how it can be or could be used in creative ways (e.g. the development of Apps by students).
1 side of the conversation seems to believe that the iPad lacks many functions which we seek from technology in the classroom these days; the ability to multi-task applications, the ability to access a range of Apps through the NZ iTunes store (due to them only being available in the US Store at present). Also the lack of camera and the use of the iPad in the classroom - for example, the screen glare from lighting.
The strong sides of the conversation seem to centre around the iPad as being a consumer product as opposed to a creator product. The iPad seems ideal for consuming products such as Apps and the internet but not for the creation of objects. This seems to flow from some people in the opensource community - that the lack of flexibility in the Apple App guidelines doesn't allow for a range of content to be made by or available to students as the App's need to be created under guidelines from Apple.
The other side of the conversation seem to be those that see what the iPad has to offer in the long run of it's development. Those that see that the iPad as well as the range of App's available already have huge potential in the classroom. That the mobility and collaboration that the iPad allows for will be a powerful asset in the classroom.
For a piece of technology that has created such a buzz through the world and the education sector it has been interesting to read through many articles and see the difference of opinions that are circulating about the iPad. The key to this conversation though is the students - it will be about what students think about iPad in comparison to the technology they already have access to in our classrooms.
I know that my students have a strong preference to a laptop over a desktop computer in the classroom. They enjoy the mobility factor of sitting outside or in bean bags to work. So it will be interesting to see if the mobilty, the shine or the tech factor of the iPad will grab our students as a new tool for their learning.
Image used under Creative Commons: Tom Raferty