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.

iPad 2: whats in it for education?

So, version 2 of the device that has spurred the tablet computing market into the mainstream over the last 12 months (15 million sold) has been announced. Despite being a consumer device, it has seen massive adoption by professionals in business, medicine, and education. In Australia, there are iPad trials occurring in nearly every state, with over 500 deployed officially in Victoria alone. So it only follows that there will be great interest in the next version (to be released in Australia March 25). Here are the top 3 things that iPad 2 has going for it as far as education is concerned:
1. Screen Mirroring – Almost from day one of the release of the original iPod touch, the number one question that educators have asked is “can I display the screen on a projector or tv?”, and the answer has been “no”, then “no, but yes if you use a document camera”, then “yes some apps can, but its still limited”. Now FINALLY, the iPad 2 (and presumably all iOS devices going forward) will support full screen mirroring of everything via the VGA cable or the new HDMI cable. For showing apps and using the iPad as a shared whiteboard etc, this is a huge leap forward.
2. Lighter – apparently the new iPad is 15% lighter – just enough of an improvement to make it more usable by students. I know my first generation iPad does get heavy even for my adult arms after 15mins or so – for primary school students especially, the weight drop might be just enough to allow for extended mobile use of iPads without as much hand/arm strain.
3. Price drop of the old model – for now at least, the iPad 1 has had its price dropped by large amounts – up to AU$200 on some models – so its a great time for schools with limited budgets (ie all that I know) to do a learning and management plan, then purchase iPads at the cheaper price point.
So what does the iPad not have yet for education? As mentioned above, the iPad is a consumer device – its not been designed with the needs of education in mind specifically. So we still need a good system for managing and syncing more than a few iPads. We also need clarity around education use off apps and iTunes content. The hope is that the app volume licensing program available in the US will be extended overseas and enhanced with provision for iBooks and music/movies as well as apps. For Mac users, the next version of the Mac OS (due in around 6 months) will reportedly include iOS device management built in. Until then, proceed with caution; join an online iPad in education community, and create a good learning/management plan as always!
Planning resources:
www.slidetolearn.info – beginners guide for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone in Education (updated regularly)
21 Steps to 1-1 – planning guide for deploying technology in education (this one is laptop specific – adapt for your device) http://education.qld.gov.au/smartclassrooms/pdf/scbyte-21steps.pdf
21 Steps to iPad success – Victorian Education department version of 21 Steps guide specifically for iPads http://asp-uk.secure-zone.net/v2/index.jsp?id=639/684/1625&lng=en
iPad in Education networks:
> Slide2Learn iPad/iPhone/iPod touch learning community and events.
> iPad4Edu iPad for Education Question and Answer site.

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updated: TIME between TIMES: the joy of educating during a time of rapid technological change.

time b times wordle

In a few days, I get to present at a massive educational conference – Ulearn09 in Christchurch, New Zealand. This year there will be over 1700 educators present. I’m presenting the following paper. I publish it here now (and at Scribd) so attendees, but also the wider blogosphere and twitterverse can appreciate the great thoughts contributed by several distinguished educators from George Siemens and Stephen Heppell, to practicing classroom teachers. Enjoy! (UPDATE: slides of the presentation are now available at Slideshare HERE)

TIME between TIMES

: the joy of educating during a time of rapid technological change.

Which educator with even a vague interest in keeping pedagogy up to date hasn’t shaken their head when overhearing comments like these in staffrooms or education gatherings:

“I have a school provided laptop, but it just sits in my cupboard.”

“Our network is always down so I’ve just given up trying.”

“All mobile phones in schools should be banned.”

“I’m just a digital immigrant, so can’t be expected to learn that!”

“I’m retiring in 5 years, so I’m not going bother with technology.”

“You’re the guru, you do it!”

At my own large primary school with over 65 teaching staff, I sadly know of several for which the first comment holds true. Anyone reading this could probably similarly pick out the ones they have been exposed to. Day after day, and year after year of being an advocate for transformational learning in the face of these kinds of attitudes can have a pretty disheartening effect. Thank goodness that one of the benefits of the technology that so many educators still shun is that we can now access other colleagues via Facebook and Twitter who feel the same, but just as what is still most needed across nearly all Education sectors is not necessarily more money, but a total mindset change, so can we who are charged with leading change benefit from turning around our thinking.

The Digital revolution is a fast moving beast. Change is now a constant, not a once every now and then event. Mobile, wireless and cloud computing developments are leading very quickly towards a world of ubiquitous, or ‘everyware’ computing. Its no secret that Education has been slow to respond to rise of these technologies. In fact, a 2003 report into the ICT-intensiveness of 55 industries found that Education ranked … last. While its easy to get down about such a result, as well as the responses that many teachers still give today when invited to incorporate digital pedagogies into their students learning, there are plenty of great examples where educators have responded in wonderful ways to the digital revolution. I encourage you to seek them out, perhaps by visiting the sites of the distinguished educators you’ll find below who have responded to this:


This is the time between times for educators working with technology. Before mobile, ubiquitous and everyware computing become the invisible norm, but after a time when educators could sit back and wait for the digital revolution to pass on by. As slow as some in education have been to respond to rapid technological change, this is however the most exciting and dynamic time to be an educator of the educators because …

George Siemens, Canada.

Founder of ‘Connectivism’, Associate Director with the Learning Technologies Centre at University of Manitoba.


“I believe that we are seeing, in educational technology, a rare convergence of technological transformation and ideological development. Twin trends of this sort are infrequent, last occurring with the industrial revolution when (rudimentary) concepts of democracy compounded the trends of industrialization. In education, the last century has provided growing consensus of learning as a social and participative process. While not always ideologically aligned, thinkers like Dewey, Vygotsky, Piaget, Bandura, Bruner, Engestrom, Wenger, Lave, Pea, and others have emphasized the distributed, social, and multi-faceted dimensions of learning.

The last several decades has also produced an increase in technologies that enable participants to engage with information in a manner not seen in history. The rise of social networking services, participative web, and growth in mobile technologies and broadband access, provides a compelling argument for change. When the technological movement combines with the ideological shift in learning theory, the impact on education may be transformative. The future of education will be shaped by those who are able to anticipate and understand the impact of the dual forces of social learning and participative technology”.

Tony Vincent, USA.

Former teacher, now trainer and education consultant.


“What I love even more than teaching is learning. And in the changing digital and social landscape, I get to learn constantly and reinforce my learning by sharing it with others”.

Dr Tony Karrer, USA.

CEO/CTO of TechEmpower, a software, web and eLearning development firm.


“My only real formal learning on the metacognitive methods and tools that are the heart of the value I bring as a knowledge worker was by educators.  But I learned in an era of card catalogs, microfiche readers, notes on paper. There were no laptops or mobile devices; no instant access to trillions of web pages; no networks of millions of people; nor free access to thousands of new tools.  Educators today are in the midst of one of the most interesting transformations where individual knowledge becomes devalued but the ability to teach new metacognitive tools and methods is more important than ever”.

Toni Twiss, NZ.

Former teacher, now a director of eLearning for secondary schools and a  lecturer at Waikato University.


Of the opportunity we have to remind ourselves of and rekindle our passion for learning within a truly authentic context. We are forming our own new way forward, often through experimentation, and along the way are experiencing the feelings of satisfaction when something new is learned or achieved.  I think as teachers it is also a timely reminder of what it feels like to be a learner and perhaps at times a struggling learner.  We are put in the shoes of the very students we teach as we explore and experiment with the potential of new technologies and perhaps most importantly reconstruct and refresh understanding of our own pedagogy and practice rather than just doing what we have always done.

We are developing teaching methods to allow our students to be successful contributors to the world that they will be part of when they leave school.   It is exciting because by the choices we as teachers are making about what and how we choose to teach, we are helping to define the values and skills that we see as being key to the future”.

Shane Roberts, Australia.

Secondary HPE teacher, and Advanced Pedagogical Licence holder.


“The change in others that can be realised and witnessed is immense. This could be a time considered for preparation for anywhere, anytime learning and as such the phenomenon of educators learning from each other is a rising river. Innovators and early adopters can educate through means other than direct tuition which is impacting on the teaching and learning methodologies and practices experienced by today’s students. The range of devices available is also transforming ideas about teaching and learning, and the processes that distribute this teaching and learning.

Change is an exciting process, for me in particular as it means trial and experimentation are welcomed. Less effective or productive practices can be discovered, trialled and reported on without fear of being labeled incompetent – as long as learning is achieved and demonstrated. Accompanying this is the ability to gain feedback from a worldwide audience, leading to inspiration within one’s own practice.

Mathew Nehrling, USA.

Sr. Instructional Designer with a Fortune 500 telecommunications company.


“During a transition period like this, many minds are not in the box to solutions and ideas. Everyone is looking for how to integrate the new innovation (be it idea or technology).  After an innovation is standard, creativity is often stifled because people have the baseline as to ‘how it is’.

During the economic downturn as much off the world is having, it forces people to think about real, practical application.  It sharpens the focus like a sword.  How can you take the innovation and produce the greatest ROI?  It takes all the creative ideas and helps one hone in on what is practical.

We are at a point now where we have a perfect combination of the two. There is a technological revolution in anywhere, anytime computing, but with economic downturns, you have to focus on real, productive solutions, thus more energy is spent on what can be produced and static (data asphyxiation) is pushed aside”.

Emma Heffernan, Australia.

Manager Discovery Programs, eLearning Branch, Education Queensland.

“For the first time in history, students and teachers are consciously playing the same role; learners. Technology is a great democratiser of education. It is no longer expected that educators hold the knowledge to impart to their learners, rather that we are all learners. The role of the educator is evolving to one of true facilitator, guide and model learner. We have unprecedented access to people, information, resources and wisdom, and as we develop new ways of learning and working we are reshaping our view of education and schooling”.

Professor Stephen Heppell, U.K.

Founder, Ultralab and Think.com


“Because we are in a world recession. Every past recession has seen a step change for New Learning as Keynesian investment boost the new, rejects the old and favours public service; because we have moved from the flat start of technological progression’s exponential curve to the steep part. Where before we had good time to reflect on small changes, now we have little time to reflect on momentous changes – that means there is no time for a top-down quality control model and we must rely on people, practitioners and communities for judgement for what might be effective;

Because technology destroys cartels: music, automobiles, banks and more. Those who sought to build value from vast scale and barriers to new competition see their walls crumble as a people’s century erodes their foundations. It was people that called time on recorded music and rediscovered live performance; it’s small local mutual banks that have survived. Learning is about people, not corporations.

Because all the old certainties of a last century world of factory schools with its formulaic rigours of “met before” learning have palpably failed to meet the needs of a world full of surprises and the unexpected. It’s the death of factory education and, as I have often reflected before, the dawn of learning..


And the winner is … ? Based on all the above responses, and a word count/analysis, LEARNING is now king, and being a learner the key to educators finding a place in 21st Century learning. Many thanks to all the respondents for their key contributions.

- Jonathan Nalder, August 2009.

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

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Mobile, ubiquitous access to 1.5 million books

Any educators still doubting the power of mobile devices and web technologies really needs to see the following article. Not only is the around 1.5 million books that Google has scanned now available for searching and reading, but a new iPhone / iPod Touch / small-screen-optimized interface means it can now be done simply and easily from anywhere in the civilized (read cell-connected) world. Surely that must be useful for some students somewhere?
I was only discussing yesterday with my schools librarian about what he was planning to do about physical resources vs web-based (ie cheaper, less time and resource hungry) ones… TUAW.com link with more info:

Via TUAW.com

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Best IT Solution For a School?

Walk into any school probably across the western world and you’re likely to find a mix of technologies. Some Desktops, some laptops, some wireless equipment, some handhelds perhaps. The best combination/solution will probably always be dependent on local conditions and needs – but if ever there was an internet discussion that could provide you an answer, it may be this recent one where one teacher at a new school wrote:

“I’m a teacher at a British ‘City Academy’ (ages 11-19) that is going to move into a new building next year. Management is deciding now on the IT that the students will use in the new building, as everything will be built from scratch. Currently, the school has one ICT suite per department, each containing about 25-30 PCs. My issue with this model is that it means these suites are only rarely used for a bit of googling or typing up assignments, not as interactive teaching tools. The head likes the idea of moving to a thin client solution, with the same one room per department plan, as he see the cost benefits. However, I have seen tablet PCs used to great effect, with every single classroom having 20-30 units which the students use as ‘electronic workbooks,’ for want of a better phrase. This allows every lesson to fully utilize IT (multimedia resources, Internet access, instant handout and retrieval of learning resources, etc.) and all work to be stored centrally. My question is: In your opinion, what is the best way for a school to use IT (traditional computer lab, OLPCs, etc.) and what hardware is out there to best serve that purpose? Fat clients for IT/Media lessons and thin client for the rest? Thin client tablets? Giving each student a laptop to take home? Although, obviously, cost is an issue, we have a significant budget, so it should not be the only consideration.”


The full discussion can be found at Slashdot here: http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/01/25/1644249&from=rss

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Education and the Twitterverse


Twitter, twitter, twitter. Like the chattering that its name implies, micro-blogging turned mass communication tool Twitter now seems to be heard everywhere. So overwhelming has it been that while I joined some time ago, I’ve got serious in the last month and now consider it the fourth leg of my personal learning network after Google Reader, Facebook, and Email discussion lists. In one day I came across a three great articles blogged by others, a wiki, and even a story in my Brisbane paper (a sure sign that its now going mainstream if they know about it). So For all my friends and fellow Educators who are still asking what is Twitter and why does it matter, have a look at these:

Overview and introduction from the NY Times: Twittering Tips for Beginners

Wiki just for teachers using twitter: twitter4teachers

Twitter as a community of practice for eduators: MICROBLOGGING EXPLORED

And ‘follow’ me at www.twitter.com/jnxyz. Read you there.


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The iPhone Could Be The Ultimate Study Machine

TechCrunch has this great article up on the state of education apps for the iPhone platform:

With gigabytes of storage, dimensions comparable to traditional note cards, and a full color screen, the iPhone is the ultimate study companion. And, unlike many of its smartphone competitors, the iPhone and iPod Touch have huge appeal for the younger crowds that generally flock to study materials.

Unfortunately the current state of the ‘Education‘ section of the App Store leaves something to be desired – many of the top apps are poorly designed, and some of the best-selling applications in both the ‘paid’ and ‘free’ sections have fewer than 100 total reviews. I blame this mostly on a general lack of awareness.



Its well worth a read if you’re experimenting with the iPhone and learning opportunities – plus the article has spawned a long and growing list of comments on the subject – head over and add your opinion!
(Thanks to Adrian for the link)

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