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How the iPad may change education

April 19, 2010

When the iPad was first released, I was one of those people who scoffed at it. No multi-tasking? No USB inputs? No video calling camera? But Steve Jobs and his team had a different plan entirely. While many were hoping for a touch screen mini-macbook, Apple decided to take the ebook world by storm.

Recently, they announced the iPhone OS 4.0 that will be released later this year. Among the list of features was multi-tasking. I was unsure about fast app switching. I mean, facebook for iphone seems to do that already in the current iphone OS. If i was typing something and left the program, facebook seemed to save the state of the message and did not seem to “quit” entirely when i opened it again. Anyway, when multi-tasking comes to the iPad, i think the device will become one to be reckoned with.

I think that the iPad will be able to substitute paper notes for lectures. It has an excellent battery life for starters, suitable for a day’s use in school. There is an iPhone app called Aji Annotate which will undoubtedly be updated for use in the iPad. Here is a mockup:

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Imagine not having to file your lecture notes, and being able to neatly write your notes down onto the PDF. Drawing and writing will be easy with the touch screen interface. Think of how much paper will be saved. The iPad was made using environmentally friendly materials. I cannot comment on the cost to the environment for producing the iPad, but the amount of trees saved and carbon that does not get used should justify that. To me that is an environment WIN.

While writing with a finger may not be the most ideal, people who have dug into the iPhone OS and found a prototype “handwriting keyboard“. Hopefully, that will become one of the final features in the iPad. Then, an stylus like this one for the iphone may be useful.

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Other means of input to the iPad could be the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which can connect via bluetooth.

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Some people may prefer the keyboard with iPad dock, but for those who want some flexibility in placement, as well as the ability to use the keyboard for their mac or PC, the wireless keyboard is the way to go.

So, things are speculative as of now, but the iPad could be a very good candidate for use in a classroom environment. It is light, can support a lot of apps (though games will be a problem), has a long battery life, supports touch input, and i think it is not that costly. The upcoming iPhone OS will definitely strengthen its capabilities. However, only time will tell if there are people who are willing to make it happen.

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