Sending shockwaves through the ed tech establishment, Apple unveiled the iPad LMS at the March 2nd iPad 2 event.
The iPad LMS, and corresponding Mac/PC and web Apps, was the third major iPad 2 software announced, alongside the new iPad 2 versions of iMovie and GarageBand.
Taking advantage of the new A5 dual-core processor and dual cameras, the iPad LMS offers the following authoring, collaboration, and learning features:
Integrated Speech-to-Text Authoring: Students and professors can create discussion board posts, blog or wiki entries simply by speaking. The iPad converts speech-to-text on the fly, populating the Apple LMS collaboration tools.
Integrated Video Authoring: Asynchronous communication can switch between text and video, with the integrated video recording and publishing directly into the LMS collaboration areas. Students and faculty can create and post video from the iPad 2 directly into the Apple LMS.
Voice-Over Presentation Capture and Sharing: Faculty can quickly create voice-over learning objects within the Apple LMS, calling up presentations and documents either authored on the iPad or imported from productivity applications such as Office. Students can work individually or collaboratively on voice-over presentations, sharing their work within the Apple LMS or publishing up to YouTube or iTunesU.
Synchronous Class Discussions and Virtual Office Hours: Utilizing the expanded academic FaceTime applications, class members can video chat with each other from within the Apple LMS. Groups of students can meet, with up to 24 simultaneous group video discussions. Virtual office hours and video tutoring services are easily accessible. The academic FaceTime discussions can be recorded and seamlessly placed in the Apple LMS as learning objects.
Deep Integration with iTunesU: The Apple LMS can easily pull in lectures and other learning objects from iTunesU. Faculty and students can choose to publish individual class videos, voice-over presentations, or entire courses to iTunesU from the iPad 2. Test banks, animations, and simulations are now shared through iTunesU, with authoring tools to create these objects built directly in to the Apple LMS.
Steve Jobs also announced that Apple is developing an initial set of 10 core courses, to be designed by Apple and academic partners to highlight best practices in pedagogy and the power of the iPad 2 and the Apple LMS. These courses will be free to all students as self-paced learning environments, and be available to any institution of higher learning to offer for credit as an instructor led course. Jobs called these new Apple Courses, combined with the Apple LMS, the best expression yet of Apple's commitment to marry technology with the liberal arts.
Speculation is that Apple will eventually move into producing full educational programs, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees through the new Apple University application.