Posted by: crudbasher | July 12, 2010

Views: The iPad for Academics – Inside Higher Ed

I like this story about the iPad.  Written from the Higher Ed teacher’s point of view, it is a good summary of what, if anything the iPad will change about the teacher’s job.

I really struck by how a computer’s size really does constrain how it is used and for what purpose.  The iPhone for example is actually a very powerful computer and yet it is constrained by a small screen to just light browsing and messaging.  (and apparently it’s not a very good phone, lol)  The iPad seems to be able to do some of what a laptop can do, but just not quite as good or efficiently.  We are rapidly solving the computation power and network connection problems.  Now we need to work more on interfaces and displays.

Imagine if the student desk had a large touchscreen display built into it, and they just connected up their phones as the computer.  Very cool stuff!

  • Good look at what the iPad is good for, and it’s limitations

    tags: education technology ipad

    • Do academics really need to shell out five hundred bucks for what is essentially a big iPod touch?
    • After having used an iPad shortly since its release I can safely say that the device — or another one like it — deserves to become an important part of the academic’s arsenal of gadgets.
    • The crucial question for academics is: What in our current arsenal will the iPad replace? After using the device, the answer surprised me: the iPad makes a lousy computer replacement, but it does a great job of replacing paper.
    • Let me begin by getting one thing straight: When it comes to weaning professors off of traditional computers, the iPad fails. It is simply not a good device for people who do serious productive work, whether that be reading, writing, or working with multimedia
    • Apple deserves credit for making the thing as usable as it is, but it is still not quite there.
    • Where the iPad does shine is as a paper replacement. The iPad is the long, long awaited portable PDF reader that we have hoped for.
    • Because of the iPad I’m finally untethering myself from paper files. In fact these days I’d rather buy an eBook and export the annotations to my notebook program than add another underlined book to my library — an amazing turnaround for someone who once ranted on this very website about his passion for paper.
    • the revolutionary thing about the iPad is not software for reading content, but for finding (and buying) it. The iPad represents the genuine retailization of academic content. Let me explain:
    • Currently folks like Elsevier act as content wholesalers, selling greats bucketfuls of the stuff to libraries
    • Individual articles are prohibitively expensive, and academics must fight through a tangled, messy mass of proxy sign-ins and authentication web pages
    • What would happen if journals went straight to consumers and sold articles like they were mp3s? What if you could log on to your ScienceDirect or JSTOR app and get a complete browsable list of your favorite journal articles, available for purchase for, say, 25 cents each?
    • they offer a world where everyone can read exactly the articles they want. Individuals, not institutions, could purchase content
    • There are plenty of outlandish scenarios to imagine: professors who create specialized current content lists or anthologies of classic or cutting-edge articles, essentially filtering wholesale content and retailing it to increase their academic prestige
    • Overall, however, by splitting the difference between dedicated devices and genuine computers, the iPad doesn’t show a lot of promise as a mobile platform for research and teaching
    • Ultimately, academics need a world full of devices they can pour information in and out of. The more open and interoperable our new ecology of applications, devices, and content providers are, the more our learning will enrich human life — whether the people selling us our readers, software, and content are Apple, Amazon, or someone else entirely.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


  1. I agree, the iPad isn’t a replacement for the computer, but it does make a great replacement to paper and supplement to the computer. The portability of it makes it an outstanding 1 to 1 device. In the ideal situation, the classroom would have a computer center 6 or so computers, iPad for every student and access to a computer lab.

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