December 21, 2014

The iPad: consumption not production?

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For another spin on the iPad, see Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine:

‘after having slept with her (Ms. iPad), I woke up with morning-after regrets. She’s sweet and pretty but shallow and vapid.’

Or EducationTechNews: ‘The younger, harder-to-please demographic were quick to point out the iPad’s shortcomings:

  • no camera
  • no USB port
  • no flash
  • no multi-tasking (you can only run one application at a time)
  • screen glare
  • too expensive at $499′

Early reports on iPads in higher education

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Kolowich, S. (2010) Minor bumps for iPad Inside Higher Education, April 23

A report on how some USA universities and colleges have reacted to the iPad. Two interesting things to note: a high proportion of students are not interested in buying any digital book devices; and can Apple continue to ignore compatibility with Adobe’s Flash?

One last comment: I’ve not seen any reports yet on how instructors plan to use iPads in their teaching in any unique ways, compared with a standard laptop. If you are doing something unique with an iPad in teaching, I’d love to hear from you.

Educational affordances of the iPad

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For a very quick and preliminary review of possible educational uses or affordances of the Apple iPad, see Elliott Masie’s 10 minute video at: http://www.ipadlearninglab.com/ (Thanks to Clayton R. Wright for bringing this to my attention – from Sierra Leone!)

It would be a good idea to keep an eye on the Masie web site over the next few weeks, as Elliott and his team explore the educational possibilities of the iPad, which is now on sale in the USA, and later this month in Canada.

My immediate thoughts on the iPad after seeing the video:

1. I’m going to wait for the next version, as there seems to be some key features missing, such as a USB port and a video camera option. Connecting an iPad to a VGA projector looks possible but awkward. (However, maybe I am missing some important new thinking here about the way the iPad is meant to be used). Nevertheless, I’m semi-retired, so can’t afford to keep buying every new version of a gadget, and I’m happy for someone else to find the bugs. However, if I was working within an educational institution, I would try to get a model of the iPad as soon as possible to explore its capabilities, then throw it away (or give it to charity) as soon as the next version arrives.

2. If I was an instructional designer, teacher or instructor, I would immediately start thinking of the design implications for the future. In particular, what is the best way to incorporate multimedia and networking into the design of learning for my course or program? The iPad clearly indicates a move away from the dominance of text, even (or perhaps especially) in higher education, although , as with all pre-existing media when a new technology comes along, text will have a reduced but still important role.This seems to me to revive or increase the need for a model of media selection for education, such as my old ACTIONS model – see Technology, e-Learning and Distance Education. I will be revising this with a new version due for 2012.

With the iPad, I suspect it will also further reduce the importance of spoken or ‘read’ text (i.e. lectures – the word comes from the Latin ‘to read’. In medieval times, there was usually only one copy of a beautifully handcrafted text written/copied painstakingly by a monk, and only the professor was allowed to read from it. So, yes, the lecture IS a technology artefact. However, in case you haven’t noticed, universities and colleges, the technology has CHANGED.) How can I easily incorporate media and graphics into my teaching – or even more so, how can I encourage my students to use multimedia to demonstrate their learning – including formal assessment? Do I need to be ‘there’ for students to do this? (I’m going to do a blog soon on why ‘there’ is important in education, how the concept though of ‘there’ is changing, and why for this reason alone education must fundamentally change).

3. Although the iPad suggests an exciting future for the design of teaching and learning, we need to bear in mind that many people still have limited broadband access, which is essential for such developments. So the iPad will at least initially further widen the digital divide (see Canada’s Digital Divide).

More news from the eLearning Africa 2010 conference

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The news portal for the eLearning Africa 2010 conference in Lusaka, Zambia, between May 26-28 has the following news items about presentations to be made at the conference:

Haggards, S. (2010) African Digital Diaries – Portraits of Ad Hoc eLearning in Africa, eLearning Africa 2010 News Portal, March 31

This is a podcast about several self-taught “digital pioneers” in Africa, including the Bishop of West Africa, a group of teenage “beach boys” on the island of Zanzibar, and a young woman journalist in Tunisia.

They keep diaries of their work and will present them at eLearning Africa 2010 – either directly or online – inspiring a discussion on the power of unstructured learning.

For more information on this project, go to: http://sites.google.com/site/africandigitaldiarieslusaka/

IICD (2010) ICT Helps Young People in Zambia Increase Their Employment Chances eLearning Africa 2010 News Portal, March 31

This is a project of the Youth Resource Centre in Kalingalinga, a suburb of Lusaka, Zambia.  In a food production class, young people have learned how to run a restaurant. By using a computer, they can then design and print menus for the restaurant and use the computers to find recipes of international dishes on the world wide web. In the carpentry and tailoring classes, computers are primarily used to calculate precise sizes and produce designs for products such as tables and chairs. This saves time for the carpenters and cuts out errors from drawing by hand.

Kiyama, R. (2010) Tackling eWaste in Africa with eLearning from UNEP eLearning Africa 2010 News Portal, March 31

To counterattack the surge in eWastes, officials at UNEP have developed an eLearning strategy and built internal capacity in eLearning course development and managing eLearning programmes. The UN agency has also established a number of strategic partnerships with specialised institutions across Africa. Representatives of environmental authorities in fourteen African countries met in Dakar, Senegal in 2009, during the fourth eLearning Africa conference. They agreed on their responsibility for establishing an African environmental eLearning network to share expertise, best practice and eLearning content.

Zulu, B. (2010) How good are Open Educational Resources? eLearning Africa 2010 News Portal, March 31

An interesting report of the response of high school teachers in four provinces of Zambia to OERs.

Will banning laptops in class work?

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de Vise, D. (2010) Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls Washington Post March 9

An article about instructors who have banned the use of laptops in class, and why. I liked the comments by Professor Vaidhyanathan:

“If students don’t want to pay attention, the laptop is the least of your problems,” and

“In an era of iPhones and BlackBerrys, Internet-ready cellphones have become just as prevalent in classrooms as laptops, and equally capable of distraction. If professors had hoped to hermetically seal their teaching space by banning laptops, they might be about three years too late.”

For my views on this see: Laptops in Lectures and More on laptops in class

See also: Is the laptop love-in over?