iPad. Have you seen one in your classroom?

I just sent this email to the teachers in my school. I am feeling a little uncomfortable with it. What do you think?

ipad image

Much hype has surrounded the iPad. Overpriced. Limited in what it can do. An iPod Touch Xtra Large. All true. We bought one for my eldest’s 18th  to accompany him to Oxford. One happy boy, I mean, man. It is a lovely device to use.

Well, here’s a little bit of the deal that I know.

Apple keep the iPad limited (major limitations = view one app at a time, no phone, no file explorer) so they can keep their pricey devices segregated. In theory there is a reason for each person to have an iPhone, an iPad and a Mac (Macbook or iMac or mini mac). This is so they keep you buying, should you be bothered to spend your cash that way. All these devices do similar things but, as Mary Portas would put it, they are all clear about their point of difference. Steve Jobs is quite aware that this will change over time as the iPad gets more powerful.

Apple computer products are successful because they do fulfil the hype. They are easy to use. Pick one up and give it a go.

Anyway, should you happen to part with £429.00 of your precious pennies over the summer (that is the cheapest one) you might like to think about bringing it into your classroom. Teachers all over the world are blogging about iPad use in the classroom at the moment. [quiet aside: by the way, if any of you would like to set up a blog to reflect on and share your classroom practice, do let me know if you would like some help] Some UK schools have bought iPod Touch class sets and are having great fun discovering the educational advantages they afford. Felsted School are buying a class set of iPod touches instead of a virtual language lab. Bizarre but true (£4,000 vs £40,000). They will be sacrificing some core functionality but equally engaging all involved with creative uses.

In case you were wondering what I am going on about, have a look at this: http://www.universityreviewsonline.com/2005/10/20-amazing-ipad-apps-for-educators.html

Also, Apple are not the only player in the game. Many Primary Schools have seen the advantage of using Nintendo Wii in the classroom. If you would like to go and see class sets of Nintendo DS being used in a classroom, I am sure I could sort out a visit within the M25.

But the point Barnes, come on!

When you are googling over the summer, have a quick search for some exciting techie activity you might like to do with your pupils next year and Google it. See what comes back. If you like the look of it send me an email. You never know where it might lead.

Will I be buying an iPad? Maybe.

Dai

Is it over the top? Simply trying to spread a little summer curiosity. Let me know if you think I’ve been a bit foolish.

  • Zaltech

    Nice honest opinion about the iPad. I too am curious as to how these devices could be used in the classroom. We are just beginning to outfit our students with netbooks that, for the money, give us more bang for our buck than supplying them with iPads. The latter does have some coolness to it and, if textbooks were available to us for a low, low cost, a real keyboard supplied and a sort of skype capability included, the iPad would then become a more attractive investment.

  • Sacha van Straten

    Hi Dai,

    Two weeks in with my iPad and I can see lots of uses for it, albeit I started with a similar sentiment to the one you express in your blog post. At first, I thought it was no more than an overpriced, over-sized iPod Touch. However, I’m now discovering some potential uses for it:

    1) With Docs2Go I have instant access to MS Office tools. OK, not the full enchilada, but enough for taking notes in meetings. I’ve charged it three times in three weeks, and it’s always on.

    2) There’s a range of interesting timetabling/register/markbook apps appearing. I’ve got three or so that I’m going to play with and probably trial next term.

    3) Jaadu make a great VNC client, so I can now use the iPad as a monstrously big and tactile control pad. Photoshop is interesting, for example.

    4) Some of the apps, like the scientific calculator, and the animated Periodic Table, are a good example of where we could end up with textbooks.

    5) I had a nosey in the Apple jobs section, as I always do when new products come out, to see where they’re heading. Apple are recruiting for someone to help with iPad for Education and iBookstore for Education. So, it’s a reasonable assumption that prices will drop and central control systems will appear, much like the ones available now for the IPod Touch, in which 20 machines can be administered from one school iTunes account.

    6) I know what you mean about restricted access, but I can see that for day to day working this might be an advantage. My mind’s open on this one.

    7) I thought it would really bug me not having a USB port, but in fact it hasn’t. I keep everything in my Docs2Go folder and sync either over the air or via the dock when I get in reach of my MacBook Pro. True, this isn’t going to replace my MBP, but it does mean I can take a digital tool for notes and presentations with me easily. Being on a multiple campus school that’s more relevant than it might seem at first.

    I’ll keep you posted on how I get on.

    All the best,

    Sacha

  • http://www.nickdennis.com Nick Dennis

    Like the reference, Dai. :) You must come to see us on one of the Apple RTC days at Felsted.

  • http://daibarnes.info daibarnes

    Thank you all for your comments.

    Completely agree with Zaltech. iPad needs more flexibilty/functionality before it will make any big steps into the classroom at £429 per piece. I agree on with the absence of apps you have stated. More as well to make it worthwhile.

    Sacha, thanks for your list of ‘hands-on’ experiences. I had a look at Docs2Go for the iPhone but kept my cash. I’ll have another look. And on the text books issue, it’s becoming all too concise and too clear, that text books will be leaving us before too long.

  • http://www,asksir.co.uk David Mitchell

    Hi Dai

    I think it is a well pitched email! It will intrigue those who are reachable, I’m sure of that. I will be getting an ipad through attending HHL10 in Jan 2011 and I WILL be using in class. I can’t wait!