In January, I convened a meeting to suggest ways that we could get past this problem that everyone wanted access to computers in almost all classrooms almost all the time.
We talked about the iPod touch. It was cheap and small, tons of software and we could easily give everyone a device. When it came to discussing capabilities, I constantly ran into three major problems:
1. You can’t connect a hardware keyboard (remember this was iOS 3.x days)
2. You cant connect it to a projector
3. You can’t do proper word processing
That was January 15th and the meeting broke up with general approval to move forward and see how many educational ‘bases’ we could cover with an iPod touch. We still had our computers, so we hoped that even just giving access to the web for everyone would be a big step up.
That was January 15th. On January 24th, Steve Jobs convened the world’s press in San Francisco and traduced the iPad along with iOS versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers.
The rest isn’t quite history yet, but it felt inevitable.
For many schools, the iPad is the perfect compromise. It’s a lot cheaper than a full laptop, the batter lasts the whole day, the app environment is “safe” to a degree – . It’s a logical choice.
There are limitations: the lack of printing being something that is being addressed by Apple – but then I hardly see that as a disadvantage in a modern classroom. Another problem is the need to power the devices but, as others will attest, the battery life is phenomenal. The devices themselves have limited storage (which is not expandable) but then this is a large multiple of the space normally available to students for document storage in the education cloud and iPad is an excellent network citizen.
I know there are iPad-in-education case studies to be found around Northern Ireland and we, as a province, have always enjoyed
god good technology in the classroom. We also have a much higher than average number of iOS developers in the province (greatly assisted by InvestNI’s support of local companies attending WWDC) so we are well placed to take advantage of the new trends in education technology.