Significantly, my number one item for how the new 2012 iPad will impact education is not the new 2012 iPad at all – its the fact that the 2011 iPad 2 is now much more affordable for schools – $100, or a permanent 20% discount in fact. And if schools take the tip of buying refurbished units when they can (these still have the full warranty) you can now get an iPad 2 for US$349.
The screen. I don’t think anyone will start off talking about the boost to ram, the additional graphic cores etc. I’m guessing that the sharpness of the screen will be the number one new feature that people purchase the new iPad for. For students (and readers in general), I’m positing that there will be less eye strain – a good outcome for schools that are deploying iPads to large numbers of students.
The camera. Sure most schools have separate digital cameras for taking photos and video recording, and yes the iPad is a little hard to hold for this kind of thing, but as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you – so there will be times when being able to capture decent shots without having to reach for another camera means action gets captured that would otherwise be missed.
The specs. Ok, perhaps in terms of future-proofing, schools may choose to spend the extra money on the new iPad simply so they know that the device will be usable for a longer period of time due to its extra ram and processor speed. iPads typically support more years of updates than other tablets already, but $100 or so for an extra year or two that you don’t have to replace your iPad fleet could be significant for some institutions.
Voice dictation. Maybe not so vital for the everyday student, but for those with physical disabilities or even just those that think in more auditory terms, this could prove a very useful addition. Pity its not the full Siri voice control as well though.
200,000+ tablet apps. All the great hardware in the world is useless unless there is software to run on it, and the iPad has this in spades. Many schools are looking at Android tablets for various reasons at present, but the fact that there are only a few hundred tablet apps, and because experienced educators such as this one see them as only a gadget, not platform choice for schools makes those 200,000+ choices all the more pertinent.