Wednesday, 14 April 2010

To iPad or not to iPad: That is the question

iPad fever has reached its peak with opinions, first-impressions, hands-on reviews for the select few appearing everywhere, even making it to the front pages of national newspapers! Click HERE, and HERE and even more HERE from Engadget. The pundits are suggesting that it will revolutionize the personal computing experience and maybe, just maybe, kill off the mouse.

What does this mean for education? A large number of educators are scrambling to see if this (what looks like) persuasive, sexy and cool-looking device will really assist student learning. At least one (rich) institution has already indicated a very large commitment to developing iPad applications. And that is where the serious question resides: what affordances does the iPad offer that will make it the killer-product for education in addition to the rest? Read any number of writers on the use of technology in the classroom and they will talk about communication, student engagement (and not just with content), social networking and the like. Apple, however, talks about access to content via iTunes such as iBooks, movies, games and music. That is, consumption of content rather that creation of knowledge from the plethora of information that will now be available in a lightweight, attractive package. The latter is no where better exemplified by the comments by Rupert Murdoch, touting the iPad as the saviour of newpapers!

It is the work of app developers and maybe the next version of the iPad with camera (still and video), USB, and access to external media that may answer the questions and opportunities for education.

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