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Apple's Announcement of the New iPad. How Will It Affect Education?

Elana Leoni Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

11 a.m. PST - Steve Jobs just announced the much anticipated iPad - a touchscreen tablet computer.

From the many tweets and blogs I've been following about this, it's described as a giant, touchscreen iPhone. The iPad weighs about 1.5 pounds, is 0.5 inch thin, has a 9.7-inch display and should have a battery life of 10 hours. For more information on the specs of the iPad, I've found this article helpful.


I'm wondering how this innovative product will affect the education sector. There's a great article on msnbc about the current e-reader market.

"Last year, about 3 million e-readers were sold. Estimates are another 6 million will be sold in 2010 according to the Yankee Group. The Kindle, which has a 6-inch screen and sells for $259, has the bulk of the e-reader sales."

"There are about 6 million people who are gearing up this year to buy an e-reader. And they’re going to spend between $250 and $700 on it," said James McQuivey, Forrester Research principal analyst. "They are already people who care about media, and who are willing to spend money on media."

One of the many benefits projected about the iPad, is the ease it creates of consuming multiple types of media in a very mobile fashion.

The tablet's "most revolutionary impact is on the way people consume media in the home," he said. "You take it from room to room, you dock it next to your bed, it becomes your alarm clock. You dock in the living room, it’s a photo frame and a video server for your TV; you dock it in the kitchen, and it displays your recipes for you."

Can you imagine a classroom that has this mobile and instantaneous sharing of information? Please let us know what information you've found out about Apple's new iPad and your predictions on how it will affect education in years to come.

Comments (40)

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Asst. Professor, South Dakota State

As long as it remains tied to

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As long as it remains tied to AT&T service, it will have minimal effect. AT&T doesn't offer voice service here, much less data service. I would have to drive hundreds of miles to get the 3G to work.

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Apple iPad and 3GS coverage

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As long as it remains tied to AT&T service, it will have minimal effect. AT&T doesn't offer voice service here, much less data service. I would have to drive hundreds of miles to get the 3G to work.

Geoff, FWIW it's pretty bad here in the Bay Area, too. I don't think I go three days without a dropped call. And I know others who can't get AT&T in their downtown offices!

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Can Apple’s tablet spark a textbook revolution?

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Can the release of Apple’s eReader tablet do for textbooks what the iPod did for music: combine an online store for purchasing books with sleek hardware that holds every text a student needs?

The article was written yesterday - before the announcement - so it does have more speculation, but I think the questions it asks are of interest.

Seems to me there are a couple of drawbacks:

1) Connectivity - Though it does have wi-fi, if you live in an area that doesn't support connectivity, this will not be terribly interesting.

2) Cost has to come down. $500 a pop is cheaper than most of Apple's brand new releases, but it's still a chunk of change.

But on the upside...
1) Textbooks will be updated instantaneously and seamlessly integrated with multimedia, news and social media.

2) On a related note, textbooks will be personalized for different learning styles. This is perhaps the most exciting piece to me. I'm not a big gadget head, but I do get a tingle up my spine when I hear about technology that can nurture and support different learning styles.

Other ideas?

Will the iPad have any educational use?

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The educational appeal of the iPad, at least in the K-12 classroom, is debatable.

How will schools deal with the large initial outlay required to provide every student in the K-12 classroom with a device? It seems that this device will be much better suited to collegiate and higher-education learning environments where students have the means to purchase the device themselves.

Also, would you want your child carrying around a $500 device? Books aren't attractive objects to steal, but an iPad certainly would be as it has many uses.

Don't get me wrong, the iPad could be an exceptional educational tool; however, it has serious questions to answer before it can be used in the classroom setting.

mom & former exec producer

iPad = textbook revolution?

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I've been super excited to hear what the Apple Tablet would be about and from what I could glean (sneaking time to hit the live blogs) the first thing I thought of was: I sure hope some time and money is spent on thinking about how this great new gadget can transform the textbook world. I know that task might be on par with passing health care, but a girl can dream right?

Edutopia Product Manager

In an education environment,

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In an education environment, wifi connection would be easier and *much* cheaper, so I don't think the AT&T bit would really have that big an effect.

And I agree that it will probably start to take root at the college level and prove its usefulness there before spreading to K-12. Unless you happen to be in a particularly well-off district or pilot school.

The thing that has me most excited is the impact it might have on the textbook industry. I spent 4 years working at a college bookstore, and 5 more working on eBay's site (which relies primarily on the used textbook business). Textbook publishers have a strangle-hold on their market, and are likely to be extremely resistant to any new tech that might impact their pseudo-monopoly.

That being said, the used textbook market is the industry's biggest enemy, followed by manufacturing/distribution costs. So a new deployment platform that would allow them to make more overall profit from lower priced books could be a game changer. The same shift may be happening in the video game industry as well, thanks to OnLive's video game streaming pilot.

If anyone is able to convince the textbook publishers that digital distribution is worth investing in, it's Apple. They have a pretty good track record with the entertainment industry so far.

And if a new player starts making innovative, customizable next-gen textbooks (like Betty describes) before the big boys do, there's no reason they can't take over the industry. We see flexible new business models replacing crusty old ones all over the map these days. No reason to think the same couldn't happen in educational materials.

High School Physics teacher, Educational Technology Specialist


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I don't think it is all that. No real keyboard attached, no multi-tasking. My netbook can do all of what it can do cheaper and do more. I think laptops and netbooks are still the way to go for education until the iPad matures.

Read more of my thoughts here -

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Great point about the multi-tasking (iPad)

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To that end, it really does seem more like a media consumption device than a creation one. Will be interesting to see if they expand beyond this or if that's a different device altogether (eg laptop or netbook).

Director of Technology/Decatur Independent School District

Great Potential - Some Worries

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1. I think the iBooks Store has great potential, especially in 1:1 environments. I would like to see my district with it's own personalized iBooks Store with the required texts/readings easily available. Also, I want my students to be able to have their own publications available in our district's online store.
2. The 10 hour battery really helps with the access over a school day.
3. The simple iPhone/iPod Touch OS is great, easy and intuitive for an education environment where we constantly struggle between the demands of tech support, training, security. I don't need my users to be able to even poke around in the guts of a machine. An OS like this keeps a natural wall around the OS and makes it disappear.

1. The App/iTunes/iBooks Store model does not work in an educational environment. I need a way to provide the apps and content to all the iPads and control the minimum available requirements without fuss. The model is great for consumers, but purchasing procedures and restrictions will keep me from making a school purchase any time soon.
2. The device leans heavy on consuming rather than creating content. While you can create content, the interface is restrictive in creating mass amounts of it. Without the keyboard accessory, it will take time for the device to become more balanced in this area.
3. No Flash support - so much good content on the web relies on Flash.


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Questionable immediate impact on education. Here's why:

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