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An iPad for (My) Students?
January 28, 2010 - 9:53pm

Jim Groom is dead on - I'm pandering to the iPad. Why stop now?

(But seriously….stay tuned for a full blog post responding to Jim's comments yesterday - I think he is on to something and I have the links of open learning resources at UMW to prove it).

Back to the iPad pandering.

Will the iPad let me get away with not buying Mac laptops for my students? And when I say "my students", I mean the 5th and 7th grade students that live in my house. My daughters are desperate for their own MacBooks. They have a good case, as a great deal of their homework has migrated to the Web and Apple applications. At school they work on Macs and use Apple applications such as Pages and Keynote. All of their homework and school assignments go through Moodle.

So far, we have been forcing them to use the family iMac. They take turns, waiting for our kitchen based computer to be available. When really desperate they borrow Dad's MacBook Pro (which I'd like to avoid). Using Mom's computer is basically a non-option, as neither her work Dell (Windows XP) or her Dell Netbook (ubuntu) can work with their school apps.

Our students' parents have up to this point been too cheap to buy another Mac. We keep thinking we will need to get a MacBook, but we are not sure how any new coveted laptop will be shared. Dropping a thousand bucks on a kids' computer seems excessive, but increasingly necessary.

Which brings me back to the iPad. Could the $500 iPad serve as a "good enough" computer? My understanding is that it has a version of iWork (what we need) that can also read and transfer files to the regular iWork. Is this accurate? Could my kids sync with the kitchen "mothership" iMac to an iPad, updating files to be worked on.

If the iPad can serve as a computer to work on Pages or Keynote documents than I could see it working very well. My girls spend only some time on the iMac working in their Apple applications. They spend lots of time watching YouTube videos, surfing the web, chatting with friends, etc. etc. The iPad seems ideal for those functions. The iPad could also become their media hub, the place they watch videos and listen to music. Downloading and reading books on the iPad would be a bonus.

So what do you think? Can the iPad substitute for a laptop give the conditions I've described? Is this a bad idea? Can the iPad replace a laptop and a Touch, as long as a family has at least one desktop to do the syncing?

To make the higher ed. connection, do you foresee the day when students come to campus having had their main computing experiences on something other than a full OS equipped laptop? For our future students will the browser and the app be the only computing experience they really know?



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