iPad fever

Education & Technology

Earlier this morning, I posted an article on ZDNet about my New iPad: “Must…resist…temptation…to write…about the new iPad!” Not long after, one of our newest bloggers, Noah, posted part 1 of a 3-part series on “How the iPad won him over“. Most writers, bloggers, and journalists haven’t been able to write about much else this weekend. Friday was, after all, what I fondly refer to as “iPad Day.”

While it’s the iPad that’s getting all of the attention, what this really signals is a fundamental shift towards mobile devices for doing what we do. Our smartphones get smarter, our tablets get fancier (or they stay just as fancy as they were 6 months ago, but drop in price to levels that are affordable for the masses). This isn’t exactly news; we’ve seen the trend emerging for a couple of years now. However, it’s finally becoming viable to leave the PC behind and, for many people, do everything they need to do on a tablet. The technorati call this the post-PC era and I suppose it’s as apt a name for the evolution of mobile devices as any.

It’s also not surprising that the new iPad is the standard bearer for this phenomenon. As I wrote over on ZDNet,

…I’m not the only one floored by the new Retina display. It’s stunning and the uses in higher education, ranging from a study aid for medical students to data visualization for computer science students are easy to imagine. It’s overkill at the K12 level, where the iPad 2 (and countless other Android tablets) are great mobile internet devices, but there is one aspect of the new iPad that will make a difference for students everywhere: it’s easy to read for long periods of time…

$500 isn’t something that everyone can cough up and it certainly isn’t within reach of many public schools (at least not at scale). Even $400 for the iPad 2 just isn’t going to happen for many students. The $200 Kindle Fire is far more realistic. However, this is one tool that, especially for college students enduring countless late nights of study and reading, should probably be on the short list of requested graduation gifts or targeted for those handy student loan refunds.

Yes, iPad fever is probably well-justified. What we should really be talking about, though, is mobile fever. WizIQ is deep in the midst of executing a revamped mobile strategy; so are countless companies in the business of education. Today’s students, quite rightly I should add, expect to be able to learn on a device that fits in the crook of their arms, the palms of their hands, the cramped desks of a lecture hall, or in line at a cafe. Whatever ecosystem is able to provide this (and as I’ll be arguing on Tuesday during ZDNet’s Great Debate series, it’s probably going to be Android), Apple can happily take credit for planting the seeds of mobile technology in our collective psyche (and even more happily enjoy the profit margins associated with dominating the upper end of the market for the foreseeable future).

Christopher Dawson

Chris is a full-time online teacher since then, focusing on teaching Business English to Adults. Rather than pushing the boundaries of technology, Chris seeks to simplify the online learning process by focusing on authentic human connections as a way to make online learning accessible for learners of all ages.

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