D#3 – Will iPad, or Won’t I?

This is a trick question in the sense that it’s more than one question. Whether or not I think the iPad(#) is a global education changer may not match my opinion on whether I would invest in it or not. As long as it was profitable and I stood to make some money on it, I would invest in it. If it was a “game changer”, too, then great. If not, oh well. At least I made some money while the venture tried to alter educational evolution.

I am also a little stymied by the vagueness of what a “game changer” is, and how my own feelings on it aren’t exactly final. What does a device have to do to be a game changer? What kind of things does it have to impact, affect, or otherwise do? If it has any effect in education at all, it has changed the game, at least a little. I think a “game changer” should be a little more substantial, though, and that’s how I’m going to look at it here.

So… to figure out how I feel about it, I read the Abel article and also did some more searching on the iPad’s pros, cons, and educational potential.

Signs of Educational potential:

  • lots of them apearing on campuses / in schools. A recent study found that in US school districts, there is a six students to one tablet ratio in schools, compared to their 10-1 desktop computer ratio. (Dingan, 2011)
  • school districts are adopting the iPad, not Andoid devices (Dingan, 2011)
  • it is mid-size… more usable than a phone / iPod, not as cumbersome as a desktop or laptop
  • it is media-friendly, and a device that’s good for Internet browsing / use
  • it is not a power hog
  • to some, using it may not feel like work (I wonder how long that new/”not work” feeling will last)
  • it has an intuitive interface and is not intimidating to use

A thought I had while reading all of the items in Abel’s article, in particular, was that I would like to see a survey of attendees that showed their attitudes on Apple as a company and their loyalty to the brand – they seemed like a biased group, especially considering the first iPad was very novel still – only six months old at the time.

Signs of educational difficulties:

  • not equally compatible with some programs or markets
  • “stuck” with Apple’s products and programs – not as open as many people in schools would like
  • it competes with other devices that people own / want to own… will it evolve into the dominant all-in-one, or will it be a flash in the pan? The amount of tablets out there, their lack of universality, and other factors slow people’s decision-making, and therefore, the faster/further adoption of this market.
  • it multi-tasks now. Believe it or not, I liked the idea that I would be forced to focus more while using it, as I could only run one program / app at a time. I also think it would be good for my too-easily-distracted students.
  • how much of an impact it has depends on users: the students and teachers. Will informative training be given to all who need it? From who? At what cost? According to some, you can get existing off-the-shelf technology/hardware to do the same things an iPad does, at $300-$400 less per device (Hu, 2011).
  • its strictly educational affordances are: mobile learning, virtual office hours, and mirror image lecturing (Watters, 2011). It sounds as if they are made for universities more than lower-age places of learning: mobility, offices, and lecturing? Out of these three, the only big benefit I see for K-12 is mobility. Most teachers do not need a different projection tool, or flexible office hours.

To be honest, I keep going back on forth on both questions. Information I have seen seems to back up my gut instinct that the iPad is not the be-all and end-all ultimate device for education. Is it a game-changer, though? I think it is. I think it’s part of an important stage in the evolution of technology in schools. I just think it’s a bit overhyped, and that due to Apple’s cool factor and brand loyalty, it has a huge leg up on any other devices, no matter how good they may be. To answer the other question, would  invest in it? Absolutely. Despite how I feel about it, every article I looked at that dealt with numbers and the adoption of them by schools & districts seems to say that they are a very popular (and in some cases effective) device and are still growing in adoption. I don’t know how much longer their chunk of the market will continue to increase, but I would definitely back this device financially… and maybe help to direct Apple a bit in how it can be improved!


Abel, R. (2010). IMS Global Learning Consortium Series on Learning Impact. Retrieved from http://www.imsglobal.org/articles/nov2010iPad.cfm

Dingan, L. D. (2011, October 31). Apple’s iPad grabs education lead, says survey | ZDNet . Technology News, Analysis, Comments and Product Reviews for IT Professionals | ZDNet. Retrieved November 6, 2011, from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/apples-ipad-grabs-education-lead-says-survey/62238

Hu, W. (2011, January 4). More Schools Embrace the iPad as a Learning Tool – NYTimes.com. The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Retrieved November 6, 2011, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/05/education/05tablets.html?pagewanted=all

Watters, A. (2011, March 5). No, The iPad 2 Will Not Revolutionize Education | Hack Education. Hack Education | . Retrieved November 6, 2011, from http://www.hackeducation.com/2011/03/05/no-the-ipad-2-will-not-revolutionize-education

What it’s like to own an Apple product. (n.d.). The Oatmeal. Retrieved November 06, 2011, from http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apple

Posted in: Week 09: iPad Apps