The iPad in Education…more thoughts from a January 2010 article from GigaOm

I’ve written a lot about the use of the iPad in education, and I tripped upon an article from GigaOm this evening, written by Janko Roettgers.  The story is on Alan Kay, who was a pioneer in computing and the notebook computer could be attributed to him (designed in 1968).  The story was on Alan Kay’s reaction to the iPhone and the to-be-released tablet, the iPad.  Here is the paragraph from the article that stood out about the use of the coming tablet in education:

It’s not just the screen size of Apple’s upcoming tablet that will please Kay, but the fact that Apple is reportedly selling its tablet with a 3G data plan. This fits right in with Kay’s vision of using computer technology for education, a goal he’s been championing ever since he came up with the idea of the Dynabook. In fact, it’s been the challenges faced by the One Laptop per Child project in particular, for which he’s an adviser, that have solidified his believe that the PC industry needs to move away from just selling hardware and towards a service-based model that could be used to establish an educational infrastructure.

People make a lot of fuss over Apple’s statements that the iPad is “magical” or that it “just works.”  But the fact is that it does seem magical, and it does just work.  People with the original iPad (that didn’t upgrade) are probably still very happy with those devices.  The iPad is being used in ways that Apple never considered (but they built a platform where they knew that could happen).   Unlike PCs, or even Android phones or tablets, you don’t talk “specs” about iPads, unless you’re talking whether the device has a camera or not (and then perhaps, you bemoan the quality of the camera).

The iPad, being a non-hardware, hardware device, can allow developers to build educational infrastructure, and I truly believe that if schools need a specific app, as long as there is money to make, developers will satisfy that need.  I’ve also found that most iOS developers want feedback, and they want (constructive) criticism from actual end users.  They also realize that their apps can grow beyond the narrow confines they originally intended.

At any rate, it’s interesting to see the “One Laptop Per Child” initiative mentioned with the iPad, before the iPad was even introduced.  As a side note, the latest project of OLPC (XO-3) is a tablet computer, much like the iPad, but with a much lower cost ($75).


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