My first trip to Edublogger con was great and disappointing all in one day. After wading through and walking away from the conversations about wikis, I took on iPads as an educational device.
The organizer of the discussion chose to go ahead and examine the iPad's size, weight and specs. This was something that we all knew and was a complete waste of time. His intention was to spend 10 minutes on the physical structure, and he was true to his word. My colleague, Terry Kaminski even tried to steer the conversation to the apps and teaching with it, and was told that was coming, let's talk about the screen size. #fail
Next the apps were discussed and people shared which one they were using to take notes with and check Twitter with. I shared how I think the app TaptoTalk would be great on the iPad for non verbal special needs students because often there are fine motor skills that need help as well. The size of the iPad is perfect for special ed!
The most entertaining aspect of the discussion was how the educators in the room banded together against "the tech guy" who kept going on about the security of the device and how it could be authenticated on his networks, but not without great difficulty, and that netbooks were the cost effective answer. He clearly was alone in his thinking.
Finally the talk went to teaching with the iPad, and from my observations the jury is still out on this one. Many praised it for it ability to be what the kids would love to use, but few have experience with it over a period of time in the class. If a student showed up with one this coming September I would be happy to try and make it work. With HTML 5 coming soon, I would hope Google Apps and other cloud programs would work better on the iPad. It's almost like it's ahead of it's time by 9 months.
Another issue that came up was synching and getting apps loaded on the devices (if you had a class set). This is a big concern due to the user agreements that restrict each purchase of the app to only one installation on one iPad, and how to synch many devices with many purchases of a single app. Hey, most of these awesome apps are under 5 bucks and as teachers we don't mind paying a small amount 30 times for a class set as long as it's easy to do.
So do I have an iPad? The answer is no. The reason? There are 2. First and foremost I have a lot of gadgets and my wife would kill me if I bought another one this year. Also, I wanted the camera in version 1, but it won't be there until version 2 or later. Think of the amazing possibilities for students to video blog, take video and edit it in an iPad specific version of iMovie, use iChat (Facetime) and Skype to work with other student around the world, the list goes on and on. I'm a media arts teacher and so anything that takes video and allows me to edit it and post it within a short amount of time is golden to me.
Ideally the iPad will transform from a media consuming device to a media creating device with newer versions. This is why the iPhone 4 is so attractive as a viable video camera and editing solution in one. If you need proof, watch this video filmed entirely on an iPhone 4 and except for some audio, edited entirely on it as well! No camera for me is a serious misgiving of version 1. I guess that's easy to say from my point of view as I sit here on a Macbook and type on the old keys!
I took the last 10 minutes of the conversation as where we should have been from the beginning: looking at the iPad as another tool students are going to show up with and want to use. We need to be ready for it and allow it on our wireless networks! Overall the device is so new that I don't think anyone fully knows how it can be used as a tool in education.
How could it be used in your teaching?