Since everyone is going crazy  about the possible/maybe upcoming Apple iSlate tablet, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and add to the hype. But … with a higher ed. angle.
The iSlate in combination with iTunesU will deliver all the media and materials associated with a given course. A course will be packaged in iTunesU to include all the course readings and course videos. The built-in reading application (simple page advance, annotation, sharing etc. etc.) will finally offer a better reading experience then paper. Course video and readings will be organized into one download (wireless), easily allowing navigation through the curriculum. The portability and light-weight form factor of the iSlate will make it convenient to bring the device everywhere, effortlessly shifting between course related materials and any other entertainment content the student wishes to download and consume.
Bundling all course materials into one download on iTunesU, and having the consumption of the materials offer a great experience on the iSlate, will mean that a cloud-based, disagregated, open educational experience is one step closer to challenging the traditional campus experience. The game changer will not only be the aggregation and form factor of the content, but the ability to use the iSlate to interact and collaborate around the content. The iSlate's communication software will make it easy to share your thoughts and questions about the curricular materials you are reading or viewing. The built-in camera and microphone will make it a simple matter to record and upload video questions and reactions to the materials. Eventually, this communication around the educational content (again all organized and searchable in iTunesU) will form a value-add around the learning content - bringing community to the course materials.
Before the integration of the iSlate and iTunesU it was never possible to bring all the course and learning materials to one device. Course readings and video delivered through the browser were often difficult to navigate, and the reading experience was relatively poor. But with the iSlate and iTunesU it will be possible to download all the course related materials, hosting them locally for easy viewing and reading. At the same time, the browser experience in the iSlate will keep what is good about a Web based learning system - the ability to interact and communicate. Combining both the reading/viewing experience (not browser based), with the collaboration/communication experience (browser based) will converge these activities into one device.
Once students begin to experience the advantages of consuming course materials and interacting with the content and other learners through the iSlate the incentives to upload course materials to iTuneU will only grown. Schools will want to have an iTunesU presence because their existing students will demand it, and the platform will be a wonderful way to gift learning materials to the world and communicate all the wonderful teaching and scholarship being offered on campus. Like iTunes and the iPod, the combination of iTunesU and the iSlate will mutually support and reinforce each other. Publishers will have incentives to make sure that their textbooks and other books used for courses are available for sale in an iTunesU course bundle. The market for journal articles and other copyrighted works (such as book chapters) will also develop around the iSlate and iTunesU ecosystem - insuring a great user experience and opening up new avenues to monetize publisher content.
Phew … was this hyperbolic enough for you? Did I adequately live up to the iSlate hype? What do you think…..is this a plausible story?