iPad Crossing the Chasm

iPad in School

I’ve often wondered why some things seem intuitively obvious to some people while other people might never come to accept an idea without the validation of some ‘authority.’

As an outsider to the schooling system it seems to me that teachers and administrators are often limited in what they can do – even if they know its’ the right thing. I started this blog to explore the use of a new technology in the schooling environment – because it seemed like an obvious winner.

Many in the schooling process may not be familiar with is known in the technology community as crossing the chasm – the chasm being that gap between the early adopter and the mass market.

Many technologies don’t make it over the chasm – like Apple’s Newton for instance. It’s almost hard to believe that the Newton was released in 1987. The Newton was embraced by some in the schooling community – but it didn’t make it to mass acceptance.

In many of the posts to date I’ve highlighted what some of the early adopters are doing. But now, only 6 months after the introduction of the iPad to the public, researchers and other voices are beginning to weigh in with some opinions too. For example, there is a pretty extensive article in THE Journal explaining how the iPad could be used in schools. Here’s a few quotes.

The prognosis for iPad’s use in the classroom is good, said Sandra Sutton Andrews, research director in the Applied Learning Technologies Institute at Arizona State University. “The concept is perfect for education–a lightweight computer, relatively inexpensive, capable of being used almost anywhere: in your hands, on a table, attached to a wall, built into a tabletop,” she said.

Andrews’s job involves investigating uses of technology in education–especially emerging technologies. She designs and conducts research, teaches university courses, and works with K-12 teachers to help assess and satisfy technology needs. One of her next anticipated projects is setting up an iPad laboratory for a deeper examination of features and benefits.

“Add to this the fact that creating apps [for iPad] is not difficult, and at that point everything changes in terms of possibilities,” she said. “Educators are already finding new uses for the available free or inexpensive commercial apps and are creating new apps that teach, engage, and even collect data. What’s more, the educators behind these apps are making their resources available at no cost to other educators.”

As I’ve noted in past articles – ?? – the ability for software developers to do just about anything they want AND the fact that schools can (and should be) developing their own applications makes it seem to me that the iPad will succeed way beyond what anyone might have expected. I can hardly wait to see the ingenuity of students flourish by being able to develop applications for iPads. We should even begin to see awards being offered to young people – and maybe even some of that $100million dollar investment fund? App development could even become a great way for schools to earn money – move over bake sale; bring on the app sale!

AND, given that the next generation of the Apple Operating System – Lion – will support Apps on the Mac, investments in apps will be able to be extended or rather move both ways. Apple will once again blur the line between the desktop computer and the laptop, and handheld devices like tablets, phones, and ipods.

Apple has raised the bar again. Mark my words. That one change – apps that work on all platforms – will change the computing experience forever.

The article mentioned above also has some of the similar ‘benefits’s we’ve heard before – like long battery life, beautiful touch screen display, ability to connect to a VGA connector and project, docking features, etc. They suggest the iPad is good for content creation since it has an always on internet connection (for 3G users – or when near a WiFi connection for non-3G users).

The article mentions the iPad as a natural platform for reading text books and e-books. In a previous article I wrote about the burgeoning acceptance of the iPad in Colleges around the US. The follow graphic suggests the iPad is holding its own versus the Kindle and Sony e-reader.

iPad in College

The article also mentions the ability to mount the iPad in different ways as an advantage. The following is one of the comments below the article that liked that idea!

The idea of a mounted iPad is fabulous! This is a very easy way for schools to provide access to students and parents. I see mounting these in common areas, such as the front office where or counseling office where our students and parents could log into their PowerSchool accounts and check attendance, grades, homework and bulletin announcements.

The iPad hasn’t made it over the chasm yet, but it looks like it’s sure on the way to making it.

Sources: http://thejournal.com/articles/2010/10/13/ushering-ipad-into-the-classroom.aspx