Will You Mini? 1st thoughts on the new iPad by a teacher

So the much awaited entry by Apple into the smaller tablet space has now been announced. You can as usual get all the details immediately at Apple.com. It does look, just like with the iPhone5, to be an amazing feat of engineering in regards to its fit and finish etc, areas that often set Apple products apart and for which people are prepared to choose time and again.

My feeling however for schools is that the US$329 price ($369 in Australia) is too high to really trigger a mass takeup. Perhaps it will come down in price over the next couple of years, but for now – although the cameras are better, in other respects its identical to the iPad2. For iPad buyers, that leaves the smaller size as the main differentiating factor – which may be great for being out and about, and maybe for P-3 students?

I’d be very Interested in the thoughts of P-3 teachers on if they’d prefer the smaller size or the full size iPad. Also – how many would choose the mini purely to save $50 or so over the iPad2 (which I’m very surprised they kept around)? Maybe if you were buying a lot?

There is one factor however that is highly in the mini’s favour – step outside of comparing the 16gb mini and 16gb iPad2 and it becomes a different comparison. Many schools I work with I know are finding 16gb too small nowadays – so with the mini you can get a 32gb mini model for $479 when the only other iPad with that option is the full iPad at $649 – that is a major difference beyond just the size.

(Also consider however that refurbished 32gb models of the larger 3rd gen retina iPad are also selling at only US$469 [or US$379 for 16gb] now as spotted by theverge.com).


What will be in iOS6 for educators?

What will be in iOS6 for educators?

Every year at this time, Apple has used the opening of its World Wide Developers Conference to preview what the next version of the iPhone and iPad operating system will bring. Amongst the purported 200 new features we will see when iOS version 6 is released in our Spring (Fall in the USA), I wanted to detail three of those announced overnight that in my opinion will be most useful for educators and schools. While there is nothing quite on the level of AirPlay mirroring which we got last year, these are worth knowing about and planning for. I’ll also touch on something that might be a concern.

Accessibility – Guided Access mode

  • Mentioned only briefly as part of the accessibility options in iOS6, to me this may turn out to be the most useful new feature of iOS6 for educators as it allows a teacher to disable the home button effectively turning on a ‘single, one-app at at time’ mode.
  • I can see it being especially good for schools with shared sets of iPads and iPod touches and who need students to not accidentally or otherwise use certain apps. May also help those students who ‘multi-task’ a bit too much.

Do-not-disturb switch

  • This option in settings will allow users to halt all incoming notifications and alerts with one toggle – or to customise what is allowed and even when.
  • I see this as being a great new tool for busy educators and for students doing assignments etc – we’ll now be able to have designated ‘quiet’ time to concentrate on the task at hand without being distracted.

Siri for iPad 3

  • This will bring exactly what it says – rather than just the voice dictation that it debuted with, iOS6 will enable Siri for the new (2012) iPad. Strangely, rather than taking up the full screen to show you maps or information, a small (iPhone-sized) Siri window will pop up. Siri will also be updated to accept more commands such as opening apps.
  • For educators of students who are sight-impaired, having them be able to interact with their iPad simply by speaking will be a boon.
  • If you haven’t already, you might like to consider having students use headphones to keep all the voice chatter down.



The one concern I did want to note is one that could be said to come up anytime that we discuss how consumer devices like the iPhone and iPad can be ‘translated’ for use in Education. So in many schools for example, Siri or voice dictation (as opposed to the Voice-Over accessibility feature) won’t work through the standard network settings, and neither may notifications and alerts.

Ok, any I have missed? For the most comprehensive list go to iLounge:


Kids Apps: as selected by miss 4

As tested and selected by my Miss 4 1/2 – a 3 1/2 year iOS veteran.
Nearly all of these have iPad and iPod touch/iPhone versions, and are in the free->$5 range (some also have free ‘lite’ versions you can try out).

Special mention:



This was the first app our then 9 month old used. Very simple of course, just tap the image that links to the sound being made. Ask what the name of the old iPhone that she uses is tho, and even to this day she will reply ‘Clara’ .

Her top choices (based on which apps she independently goes back to and spends the most time on):

Puppet Pals


- choose characters, move them with your finger and talk – and Puppet Pals turns it all into a movie. Great for imagination and developing oral language.

My PlayHome


- interact with 5 spaces in a play house – amazing level of detail and interaction possibilities.

Art Maker by Playschool


- free and provides great picture making options and scenes

Ansel & Clair


- a little more advanced, but even at age three this was a hit with lots of sections and animations to explore on a journey around Africa

Park Math or Draw and Tell, or anything by Duck Duck Moose


- all apps by Duck Duck Moose have great graphics and animation as well as songs and hidden interactions.

Red Writing


- aimed at Australian kids, it includes the right school font used by each state as kids practice letter formation

Montessori Crosswords


- allows kids to explore letters and sounds as well as to see how to use them to build words



- just a simple look around and find animals with some quiz questions, but this one has proved very popular on a recent week away.

Seuss Band


- Great for co-ordination and getting a sense of the fun of playing music

Talking Carl


- the original talking creature app – repeats what you say in fun and interactive ways – very good for developing oral language skills

iWrite Words


- a letter tracing and word making app with fun activities like tipping the device to slide the letters around

Me Books – Lady Bird Classics


- animates old classic books and allows you to record as many animal sounds or readings of the story as you like yourself.

Monster at the end of the book


- just pure fun as you drive Grover more and more crazy as the story unfolds

A little more advanced:

Pirate Treasure Hunt


- younger kids may require help as there are some great problem solving puzzles

Bartelby’s Book of Buttons volume 1 & 2


- a step beyond Pirate Treasure hunt with an involved story and puzzles that prove a great challenge for kids when they are ready.

Also – Moms with apps is the best parent site for keeping up apps aimed at kids:

What does the new iPad mean for education?

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.

Thoughts on a Post-PC era Phase 2 – Tablets and ‘Appliance’ computing

I hold very strongly to the idea that there are two ‘tablet device’ markets – the first is the much older ‘slate PC’ one that saw PCs and laptops gain expensive convertible options around 2003. These slate PCs are still around today and provide a reasonable compromise between a full PC and touchscreen device, but generally come with a higher price. One still has to know how to operate a full computer to use one.


Since the rise of smaller, mobile devices that mark the start of a Post-PC era, elements of ‘full computing’ have increasingly become available as part of their feature sets. Such things as the light productivity of email and web surfing, as well as viewing and consuming documents and media can all now be done almost anywhere at anytime, and with better battery life and often direct touch control. I have been calling these ‘Tablet PCs’, but the launch of the Amazon Fire tablet has got me thinking that phase 2 of the Post-PC era is upon us, and that we should instead be using the term ‘appliances’, or ‘Appliance computing’. Why?


In phase 1, I think large segments of the tech industry and their user base have stuck to the idea that a slate or tablet computer should just be the classic PC plus touch, and nothing else really needed changing. When the iPad debuted and didn’t try to be just a PC-replacement, it really messed up all these notions and led to nearly two years of discussion about what a tablet PC should be. Most similar devices released since by Motorolla, Samsung, Sony, RIM etc have tried to hedge their bets by ape-ing the form factor while still advertising their ‘PC’ features – USB ports and multi-tasking. Perhaps they do offer a useful middle ground or transition zone for those used to the PC-only era, but the general public has not adopted them in numbers any greater than they did the previous convertible Slate PCs. So what have they been adopting?


I think we all know. Not a tablet focused on being a PC replacement, but one that I see as having deliberately left-out USB ports and as many buttons as possible so it can’t be confused as a PC. Now for almost the first time since it debuted, a tablet is being released by a major player that also doesn’t seek to be seen as a PC-replacement. The Amazon Kindle Fire is a touchscreen eReader and media consumption tablet – and e-Content appliance basically – and at US$199 is also priced as such. So now that another ‘tablet as appliance’ device by a major company has entered the market, I think this space just got a whole lot clearer – Slate CPs for the older and smaller ‘PC in a tablet’ proffessional market, and and ‘appliance tablets’ for everyone else. Which market would you like a company that you hold shares in to target?


NB. Of course what I haven’t stated is why the appliance tablets are the ones that are selling – just for the record – its because they are simpler (and in many cases, cheaper).

NB2. Of course Microsoft’s Windows 8 on tablets may muddy this space again in 2012, but I think you can see that if all it does is go for the ‘a tablet and PC should be the same’ model, then they will miss the ‘computing for everybody-else’ potential of the Post-PC era.

NB3. Of course these are my own thoughts entirely and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer or other professional groups of which I am a member.

Post PC phase 2 – appliance computing 2.pdf Download this file

Posted via email from Jonathan Nalder

The other great mobile education movement

I am aware dear reader that much of my writings on how learning is handling the inevitable rise of ubiquitous computing centre’s around the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad platform. But in this post I’d like to reflect a little on the other great mobile education movement of the last three years – that of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) ‘children’s machine’. While even the latest version 1.5 of the XO laptop they build and supply  has tech that is getting a little behind, it does have at least three distinct advantages over the iPod/iPhone/iPad platform:

1. Designed for children – yep, rather than being a consumer or business device that crafty educators are able to integrate into educational settings, the XO was designed ground-up to be in students hands. I mean its bright green! When a student first sees one, they know already this is for them – and that means their use of it for learning starts at a unique place. This is a factor not to be underestimated.

2. Automatic collaboration – while there are a growing number of  iPod touch apps that can use wifi or bluetooth to do some basic screen-sharing or sending of files etc, another of the distinguishing features of the XO laptop is that sharing and collaboration is built in automatically to practically every activity, even the camera. Its not something students even have to think – ‘oh can I work on this with someone?’ (or two, or four etc), but is simply a matter of switching to the dedicated ‘friends’ screen and sending the invitation.

3. Dual screen modes – the announcement of the iPad means that one of the XO’s advantages (larger screen) will shortly be neutered, but the ability of the screen to work as a regular colour LCD indoors, and a black and white screen outdoors with full readability in direct sunlight gives the XO a big advantage over the glossy  iPad as far as true mobile learning goes.

4. Ok I know I said three – but this one is not one of mine – Flash support. I don’t use flash hardly at all, but I know alot of educators that do rely on it for hundreds of interactive learning objects that are totally unavailable in the Apple mobile world. How long it takes for these to eventually be ported over to Java/HTML5 or turned into the mobile apps (via Adobe conversion software) that are becoming more of the standard for such software I don’t know, but until then, educators are great hoarders, and so Flash support remains an issue.

Of course there are downsides to the XO laptop also (such as the aforementioned aging hardware, and the fact that a more natural touch-based version may be more than two years away). As a final note to this comparison, I don’t know how many of the 140,000 iPod touch apps are educational, but a developer in that space recently mentioned a figure of 3-4000 to me. Anyone reading out there know how many XO activities (the OLPC name for apps) there are?

Review of the iPhone 3GS from a uLearning perspective

The iPhone 3GS is the most advanced converged mobile device and as such, is one that teachers and educators need to be familiar with. Its really a signpost on the road to ubiquitous computing, where mobile, miniaturised, wirless and cloud-based devices proliferate.

This review looks at how the 3GS is an update to the 3G – its faster speed, video recording, better camera, universal access tools, compass, Nike+ and improved battery all make a compelling case for this new model to find a home with educators. The review details what each of these improvements means for educators looking to advance 21st century learning.
Go here to view in 3 parts: http://www.youtube.com/user/jnxyz
or here to view in full (21mins) http://gallery.me.com/jnxyz/100260

Posted via email from Jonathan’s posterous

Mobile Software is here to stay

> So, this whole ‘buying software just for mobile devices’ thing is > really taking off! Educators should take note that a major shift > from PCs to mobile/ everywhere computing I’d under way -I mean > 500,000,000 app downloads in 6 months is a huge number by any > technology platforms standards, and with Android, Palm and > Blackberry all having app stores of their own ok the way, it’s clear > that anytime access to software via wireless connections will be an > important part of our students futures. Now to working out what the > educational opportunities if this are … !
> Read more about it here:
> http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/news/comments/app-store-500-million-downloads-15000-apps/

Posted via email from Jonathan’s posterous

Rising Netbook sales a sign of things to come for Educators

Netbooks, those super-small but just capable-enough laptops, have been around long enough now that their impact can be measured in more than just how many have been released (very many) or how much they have been hyped. While the One-Laptop-Per-Child program that started it all is encountering difficulties at the moment, Education departments the world over have still embraced the mini-laptop concept as the best way of delivering 1:1 laptop rollouts in a cost-effective way.
Tangible proof of the impact of this new class of PCs is showing up in sales figures – the following Appleinsider article reports on recent US sales data showing that Acer has re-taken the 3rd spot at the expense of Apple, which has fallen a place for the first time in some time. Acer’s success is reported as being due to the success of its strong Aspire Netbook line, while Apple has no products at present in this clearly growing category. Apple’s Steve Jobs recently opinioned that the iPod Touch and iPhone were its equivalent, but maybe the current harsher economic times will force Apple’s hand, making the many Mac-using schools of the world rather happy I imagine.
Article is HERE:
> http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/01/14/apples_share_of_us_pc_market_slips_to_8_at_hands_of_acer.html

Posted via email from Jonathan’s posterous