Tech Blog

2011 will be the breakout school year for tablets in classrooms

by Blogger on ‎08-31-2011 12:55 PM - last edited on ‎05-02-2012 07:25 PM by Retired Moderator

Photo Jul 28, 11 43 19 AM.pngNext week the 2011–2012 school year kicks off in earnest. We’ve had the raft of Back to School 101 posts to help you gear up (literally and figuratively ) for school, but in the meantime I’ve been keeping an eye on trends overall and I believe that this is going to be the breakout year for tablets in schools—iPads especially.

 

When the iPad first came out there were a smattering of schools and teachers starting to take advantage of the iPad. You can’t blame them for being cautious, iPads are expensive and their use in the classroom was unproven. There was talk about textbooks for iPads, but early on there wasn’t much out there.

 

This year is different.

 

Yale Medical School is giving all first year med students iPad for coursework, textbooks, and later diagnostics. Closer to home, CDI College and Vancouver Career College are both giving iPads to new students this fall and as Techvibes points out, it’s turns out an iPad is the cost-effective choice for buying textbooks. According to Techcrunch, Kno Textbooks for iPad (US iTunes only) is being downloaded every 8 seconds with schools like Harvard, University of Arizona and UT Austin leading the pack in terms of students using the app. Sure you still have to buy textbooks electronically, but when folks like Kno are offering books at 30–50% off the cover price? I’m sure publishers are seeing the financial benefit if they can avoid printing and shipping books. Maybe textbooks might even be updated more often if the cost of reprinting textbooks is taken out of the equation.

 

Then there are app suggestions.

 

iPad Fan has their recommendations, TUAW has note taking and app suggestions, Sophos talks about Kindergartens using iPads (I’d get port covers straight away) and both MacLife and Mashable have their own suggestions.

 

Photo Aug 31, 12 20 58 PM.pngJust taking advantage of “back to school” time? Of course that’s part of it, but you don’t write columns about stuff people don’t care about. Seeing the number of schools encouraging, requiring, or giving out iPads is enough for publications to take notice and write about apps and reviews.

 

My sense is that now with the iPad 2 available and flourishing plus more and more apps plus more textbooks, schools are seeing that they can now safely justify the expense of providing iPads to students. Even if a school doesn’t provide iPads, recommending them isn’t an outlandish thing. If I were heading back to school (especially if I had to buy textbooks), I’d want a tablet have all my materials in one place. A backpack loaded with books and notebooks? Yeah not so much. One satchel with some basic gear, an iPad and I’d be ready for class.

 

Which would you rather carry to school?

 

On the downside, iPads are still expensive and out of reach of many, many families. Should school boards and Apple help out? You bet. I think the long-term benefit to students, teachers, and schools far outweighs the cost. So while I think this school year is going to be the breakout year for iPads in schools, it will be years before schools have iPads like they have computers in classrooms.

Comments
by takwu on ‎08-31-2011 05:38 PM

While I agree iPad and similar tablets have the potential to replace textbooks (if any of your required textbooks are available in the corresponding app store), I have to disagree that it can replace anything else a student needs: binder, paper, pen, or laptop.

 

Binder: you get paper from your instructors and classmates everyday.  Where in the iPad do you keep it?

 

Paper: you give paper to your instructors and classmates everyday.  Don't say "I'll email it to you" because I tried that and people don't like it, and most instructors don't accept it for assignment.

 

Pen: capacitive touch screen just does not work.  Look at Penultimate, the number one handwriting note app for iPad, and look at how huge those words have to be in their screenshots.  It's a marker on a tiny white board, not pen on paper.

 

Laptop: have you tried typing an essay on an iPad?  Even if you add a keyboard and mouse?  You will probably be fine if your essay is in plain text format, and you don't need to print it out.  Need to research on the internet?  Website has Flash?  Need to download a file?  Well, you get the idea.

 

"One satchel with some basic gear, an iPad and I’d be ready for class."

 

Yeah, you wish.

 

I know this, because I just spent my final two years at college with a Tablet PC.  It replaced most of my note paper, thanks to a proper digitizer stylus, and handwriting apps with abundent features so you can choose the way you want to use it.  It also saves me from printing handouts, as I can directly write notes on any printable file (word, pdf, ppt, everything).  Try that with an iPad.

 

Still, I had to carry a binder, a few sheets of paper just in case, and some pens.  The convertible Tablet PC doubles as a small laptop with full sized keyboard, which also makes organizing my files that much easier.  I do wish one day we can replace the whole backpack with one machine, and my Tablet PC comes close.  The iPad is another story.

by Exalted Expert / Community Ambassador on ‎08-31-2011 06:18 PM

There's another factor.  Drop a pen or piece of paper.... pick it up.  Drop an iPad..... buy a new one?

by rtms77 on ‎08-31-2011 08:35 PM

I agree the iPad is completely useless for school, at least secondary and high school and up. Same goes for Android tablets. These things are good for playing with, amusing apps but real world applicatons just suck. I've tried to use it for work and the rigamarol in trying to update files and keep them organized drove me insane. Windows 8 tablets will be the answer, with proper storage space and SD cards, and USB flash drives where you could give your professor you work.

by Blogger on ‎09-01-2011 08:47 AM

All valid points. Myself I do make sure I have a couple pens and a notebook all the time and I'd expect students to find they need to do the same. I also find that a wireless keyboard makes both note taking and writing documents much easier. I don't have any problems keeping documents straight on my iPad. I can easily go from desktop to iPad and back all the while working on the same document.

 

Dropping iPads? Yeah that's an issue schools will have to deal with. Better cases or maybe school-ready iPad versions might be the answer.

 

Regardless, I think the era of carrying lots of books to school and handing in assignments on paper is drawing to a close.

© 2011 Future Shop. All rights reserved. For personal, noncommercial use.