You might not have to take a look at the search trends to guess that Internet search traffic for the iPad is on par with President Obama and LeBron James. Since the iPad’s launch on April 3rd, over 10,000 apps have been created for the device; that’s nearly 90 apps a day. And you can probably guess that there are already more than a few articles about the iPad in Education. But I have two observations that I think are worth putting out into educational cyberspace.
First, despite all the hullabaloo, the iPad is really not about the device. The beauty of the iPad’s design is that it’s a digital canvas that becomes and facilitates so many things. It’s a book, newspaper, game, compass, menu, recipe, calendar, calculator, communicator, encyclopedia, guitar tuner, sketch pad, research tool, conversion tool, star chart... It is what we want it to be; it is what we make it to be. The mindset is shifting from ‘this-is-what-a-device-can-do-for-you’ to ‘show-what-you-can-do-with-this-device.’ Apologies to JFK, but perhaps the best phase is: “Ask not what the iPad can do for you; ask what you can do with the iPad.”
Second, the iPad meets us where we are. Let’s face it, our lives are hybrid. We’re offline and we’re online and the line between the two has been blurred for a while. We live mobile lives and we don’t think twice about getting and receiving information day or night, no matter where we are. The days are (or soon to be) over when education is tied to location. It first moved from the campus/classroom to the home/library/coffee shop with the personal computer; now it’s moving from the computer’s location to me. Perhaps ironically, I think the iPad is to hardware as Google’s mission statement is to information. It’s a bold move in making the computer readily accessible to more people. It meets the young, the old, the savvy and the novice with ease.
iPad-like devices have just been born; we have definitely not yet seen the best of what they will be or will bring. But, to me, if one of the purposes of education is along the lines of ‘preparing younger generations for the future’, then iPads (and devices like it to come) facilitate the natural next steps from where we are today to education anywhere-anytime.
Academic Trainer & Consultant