I have never been a huge fan of the iPad. Too expensive. Too heavy. Too limited. Maybe good for watching videos, but not great for reading. And don't get me started on the problems with typing on the thing.
But our students seem to love the things. They like having their course materials, both articles and videos, on a portable device that is lighter than a laptop and that has a battery that lasts all day. They don't seem to miss the keyboard all that much, as they want to swipe and touch. And strangely, many seem to like those keyboard cases.
Maybe my problem with the iPad is not the concept, not the category, but the existing device. Maybe the iPad is just too damned big!
Enter iPad mini. (I"ll try to follow Apple lingo and drop the "the"…although it still sounds weird to my ears).
4 Reasons Why iPad Mini Might Hit the EDU Sweet Spot:
1. Price: $329 for the for the 16GB Wi-Fi version is not bad. Not as good as the $199 Nexus 7, but way better than the new $499 iPad with Retina display. $329 gets us closer to a reasonable add-on to a laptop.
2. Size and Weight: iPad mini looks to be small and light enough to hold in one hand. This will make reading text or websites much easier. A companion and not a substitute for a laptop. No more illusion of creating much of anything (besides maybe taking meeting notes), but good for reading and watching.
3. iTunes U and Course Manager: Google has not introduced anything like iTunes U and the Course Manager. A free app and web program that makes it easy to upload content (videos and articles), restrict enrollment, and dynamically update as new content is added. The course material consumption experience in iTunes U is smooth and elegant. Videos can be watched in 1.5x and 2.0x speeds. Readings can be read in any reading app. A mobile EDU content companion to the Web based LMS.
4. Absent Google: Why isn't Google going after the EDU space with the Nexus 7? Why does Google not have a program to encourage one-to-one Nexus 7 adoption on campuses, or in specific programs or schools (such as in the professional schools that are buying iPads for all students)? Where is Google's version of Course Manager?
Do you think that iPad mini will be the tablet of choice for our students?