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The New iPad, Constant Connectivity, and EDU Apps
March 7, 2012 - 8:50pm

The first thing that strikes me about the new iPad is the inclusion of 4G LTE cellular, in addition to 3G networks including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. The assumption is that a combination of Wi-Fi and "two cellular antennas tuned to 12 different bands that access a larger frequency spectrum" will create constant web connectivity.

Coming from the LMS (learning management system) world, constant web connectivity is an important concept. In looking at mobile versions of the leading LMS platforms, it does not seem to me that they are built to sync and work offline. Accessing course materials (at least initially), reading and responding to discussion or blog posts, and taking assessments (if that feature exists) all depend on being connected to the internet.  

This generation of LMS apps is not designed for offline access and full use. The mobile LMS platforms do not sync with the course content and materials, and do not update back to the LMS when connectivity is restored. (If I'm wrong about this please let me know - and share which mobile LMS app can be fully utilized offline and synced).

This idea that it is possible to achieve ubiquitous connectivity, through Wi-Fi or a cellular signal, does not square with my own experience. There are many instances when I find myself unable to get a Wi-Fi or strong cellular signal, and not just when I'm on airplanes. In the rural and hilly area that I live in a cellular signal can be hit or miss.  Traveling around my region for my kids sporting events I've hit many dead zones. Cellular connections can be dropped, even in seemingly strong coverage zones. And of course, there are those long airplane trips.

Is the idea to build EDU apps (including mobile LMS apps) for offline usage on the roadmap of ed tech vendors? I worry that most ed tech companies are located in areas of high wireless bandwidth saturation, and don't really think about where bandwidth may be scarce.  

Do you think that mobile EDU apps should have robust offline and sync capabilities?

Can you point to examples of mobile EDU and LMS apps that work like the NYTimes App, which does a really good job of syncing for offline reading?

What struck you about the new iPad?


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