Apple's iPad is one of the hottest pieces of consumer electronics right now. It's being used by people who had never had a desire to own a computer before. The popular tablet has even made its way to hospitals, where it is used by doctors and nurses who are alway on the move and must have medical records on hand at all times. It's an awesome device with great potential. More importantly, it launched the tablet race, and now we see similar tablets from various manufacturers looking for a chunk of the Apple pie.
Most recently, Apple took a step toward turning the iPad into an educational tool. Let's take a look at how the iPad is being used in the educational sector.
1) Donate iPad to Schools
This program was introduced soon after the iPad 2. Apple announced a program alongside Teach for America that would donate old iPads to schools in low-income parts of the United States. All a person has to do is take their old iPad into any Apple Store and tell the folks there that they want to donate the tablet. The iPad goes to Teach for America, who in turn will send it off to be used by a teacher in a lower-income area.
Most recently a company called Inkling, who publishes textbooks on Apple's tablet, signed a deal with Pearson and McGraw-Hill (we remember like every damned textbook we were issued in school had their logo on it) have signed a deal with Inkling. This would bring about 100 textbooks to the iPad by 2012, according to a New York Times report. No more bad backs for students who once had to load their bookbags with 400 pounds of dead tree.
3) Educational Apps
Well this isn't Apple's doing. However, they did open their platform up for the possibility, and Apple is known to promote these applications during the 'Back to School' season. There are quite a few useful applications in there. Yeah, some are just cashing in on the back to school thing, but there are quite a few that can actually be very useful for the busy student life.
4) The Example of Bonneville School District
While $30k on iPad 3G models with 64GB of storage sounds like overkill if you ask us, one school district did in fact decide to pick those up for their teachers. This was something we learned about last year, and it seems that the school district feels that it can improve education and make teacher's lives much easier. That remains to be seen, but this can only be good if teachers learn how to make proper use of the tools at their disposal. Otherwise, they've just wasted a whole lot of money.
The thing about the iPad is that while we say it's being used for education, the first thought that comes to mind is students learning on the iPad. That is definitely happening at some schools, but we are also seeing teachers use the tablet, whether its for keeping track of their schedule or for keeping track of grades, there are other uses for it. However, most of these uses fit more into the 'All of the Above' category.
We also think it's interesting that (and this is coming from a group that enjoys using their iPads) some school districts seem to take the 'magical' sales pitch almost literally. While we strongly believe that technology can further education, we also understand that technology is useless if you don't know how to operate it. You have to be willing to learn with the student. Otherwise, you give them an iPad and we are sure they'd rather watch Rebecca Black sing Friday than do boring math stuff.