Some issues with the iPad 2 in Education

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become an Apple and iPad evangelist. I know that I’ve personally been responsible for (at least) a dozen MacBook and iPad purchases (not including my own). Although I was once a certified Apple-Hater (or, in politically correct terms, Pro-Windows), I’ve become an All-Apple guy. And if you find yourself on the Windows or Linux side of the aisle, my love for all things Apple might be very annoying–or enough to cause you to read other blogs (they joy of blogging is that someone out there shares your perspective–or you can make your own blog and share your perspective with others).

I’ve made it clear that I’m thrilled with the potential of the iPad for education, and I’m thrilled with the advances of the iPad 2 for education. Specifically, we can mirror an iPad to a projector.

However, after more than a week of using an iPad 2 in my classroom, I’ve noticed some problems with the iPad 2 (Some of these are also true for the iPad 1, but the iPad 2 has some hardware advantages over the iPad 1). Perhaps there are work-arounds for these problems. If so, send me an e-mail, as I’d love some advice.

1) The good news: you can use the VGA adapter to mirror the iPad 2 just like the new iPad HDMI adapter. I am not sure if the iPad HDMI adapter outputs audio (for example, if I use an HDMI adapter with my late 2008 MacBook, it does not output audio, whereas later models do output audio via HDMI). Here’s the problem: the VGA adapter connects at the bottom of the device (30-pin connector). Audio comes out of the top of the device. I cannot plug both the VGA adapter and the audio in at the same time and have the device in portrait mode while sitting on my piano. Additionally, if the VGA adapter is in, the iPad has to be rotated 180 degrees from its normal portrait position. Sure, the iPad rotates, but it is awkward to use the home button on the top of the screen. At the least I need some kind of dock that will allow the iPad to sit flat on the piano stand yet have the 30-pin connector exposed to the side.

2) Another issue with VGA or HDMI adapters: you need another cord. In the case of the iPad VGA connector, the connector does not “lock” into the device, and very easily (under the weight of a longer VGA cable) causes the cable to fall out, losing the video signal to a projector. All these VGA cables are clunky affairs. How about a 10 foot VGA extension (or 30-pin connector extension) that is a thin cable that puts less weight on the device itself?

3) I’m fearful of a student–or myself–tripping on the cable, causing the iPad to hit the deck–case or not.

I wish I could make demands of Apple. Here’s what my immediate demands would be:

a) A school-district focused AirPlay receiver that would be relatively inexpensive (think Apple TV priced or less) and friendly with school district networks. Obviously, it has to be able to convert the signal to VGA or HDMI.

b) AirPlay friendly “static” apps like KeyNote (or like UnrealBook/ForScore). Or any other app you wanted to project. For now, refresh rates would not need to be outstanding (in several years, yes, for now, just being able to reforest occasionally would be worth it). This would not be for gaming purposes, but for education.

c) Better iPad discounts for students & teachers. Apple has the potential to put an iPad in EVERY classroom in America.

d) Put a 30-pin connector on one of the sides of the iPad.

Now, I do know about some of the programs that allow the iPad to control a PC, but the iPad is mine and unable to access the “private” district network (we have a separate channel for “public” wi-fi), and our district IT is terrified of installing any program they don’t choose themselves.

Ultimately, AirPlay has far more potential for education–and I hope apple harvests that potential. They have the chance to dominate and control the (coming) tablet market in education.

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