Friday, April 02, 2010

1:1 Learning and the iPad...a few thoughts

In August of 2010 when the new school year begins all of our students
in grades 6-12 will show up with a with a wireless laptop of their
choice. A Survey of our students shows that 60-70%  already own a
laptop and that the majority own a mac. Even though most students who
already own a laptop own a mac, we know that others are using a
range of models running everything from windows to Linux (a sixth
grade student uses Fedora if you can believe it). Because our primary
academic learning platforms (moodle and google apps education edition)
run directly through the browser we're able to take a hardware and OS
nuetral approach in our 1-1 learning model.

April 3, 2010-enter the iPad, a device whoose potential for use in our
1-1 learning environment I immediately wrote off after it was
announced back in January. There were so many unanswered questions.
Would it be able to read AND edit google documents? Does it lean too
heavily on the side of information consumption? How would the lack of
flash support and multiple-tasking impact its utility in the
classroom? These questions aside, it's highly proprietary and closed
nature didn't seem to be a match  for our open ethos.

However, my thinking has evolved over the past few months. Google docs
support is available via 3rd party apps, google is doing some cool  
things with HTML 5, multi tasking is coming, and some popular video platforms
are rushing to make their content iPad friendly. In classroom
situations where teachers need students to access a flash heavy site,
iPad users can easily partner up with  classmates who have a
traditional laptop (this has the ancillary benefit of making computer
use in the classroom more social and collaborative). For some students,
particularly those who have a desktop computer or large laptop at
home, the iPad might be a great fit. I'm nearing the point where I'm
ready to advocate for the ipad as an acceptable device for our
students and families to choose from.

I've said this before and ill say it again; what I like about our
school's approach to 1-1 learning is that it is inherently tolerant of
new technologies.  We have a model that, as Gever Tulley says, is
ready to integrate new technologies as quickly as they emerge.

What are your thoughts on the utility of the iPad in a 1-1 learning
model? Does it have everthing, or at least most everything, necessary
to be a useful 1-1 student learning device?


  1. This post is a great counter-balance to my thoughts on the iPad shared here:
    Although I say counter-balance, I don't think we disagree. I wouldn't mind a handful of my students bringing these to a school or a class, but I really wouldn't want a school to purchase them.
    There are so many cool flash-based learning opportunities and so many different advantages to having a camera and to using tools (like a portable mp3 player) that rely on USB connectivity and... well, you get the point. Why limit school equipment with the purchase of a limited (and somewhat pricey for what you get) tool?

  2. I love the OS agnostic approach. Well done. Have to agree with David about the issues around flash :(

  3. Thanks for the comments, David and Wara. I agree on is a big hurdle. Another complication of the iPad for use in a BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) model is printing support-I heard it doesn't support printing.

    Yeah, I don't think we're far off at all, David. I would never advocate that a school purchase these for use in mobile labs or something like that, but to me, they are ever so close to qualifying as acceptable computing devices in a BYOL model.