Brandon, B. (2010) Apple’s iPad: what does it offer for e-learning? Learning Solutions Magazine January 27

I was wondering how to comment on the iPad without having actually seen it (it’s not available yet in Canada), when Clayton Wright (many thanks) directed me to this article, which is comprehensive and with regard to e-learning, reflects both my opinion and Clayton’s, given what we know so far.

Also make sure you read the comments to the article – especially the very last sentence of Bill’s response to the comments.

Despite Bill Brandon’s last comment, it’s not too soon for mainstream educators to start thinking of how they would design teaching and learning using media rich, low cost user-friendly mobile devices, because the iPad does indicate the kind of devices that will be available and suitable for e-learning in the near future (three to five years), when the price comes down to around $200, there are additional features, such as a camera, and more competitors.

A major limitation that is unlikely to go away will be the cost of data plans. At the moment, the AT&T data plan costs $350 a year – OK if students are going to pay this anyway for personal use but expensive if it is an additional cost on top of the cost of the device.

In the meantime, the iPad is an important step forward in the evolution of devices that can be used for e-learning.


  1. It has WiFi like what most netbooks and notebooks have. The cost of the always-on 3G is not crucial, considering that WiFi is faster and is available at home and in school.

    The lack of the front-facing camera may be a deal-break for education, but how often do you use it anyway? It has a mic and speakers, audio-conferencing is possible with Skype and Fring.

    Flash? Who needs flash? The iPod Touch and the iPhone have been used in educational settings – and you don’t hear them complain about the lack of Flash. If it does not exist on the iPad, there are always ways to re-create it. HTML5 is slowly being adopted (YouTube and Vimeo are major examples) and it’s there to kill Flash. 😀 AS educators, I think it is crucial that we support open technologies, rather than supporting an unstable platform such as Flash (did I say proprietary, too?).

    Just my two cents worth. 😀

    BTW, am a fan of your blog.

  2. Lack of Flash would be a serious constraint for Workplace eLearning most of which is currently created in Flash. Also if we believe learning is fast becoming Social (and that would include user generated content) then video capture too would be important. I would rather wait for iPad ver 2!

  3. Have you even considered how you will use the camera on the iPad? Try holding an A4 paper and pretend to shoot a video — not only would one look like a dork, and it will not take that long before your arms will ache.

    Video conferencing is also affected – if you put the iPad on your lap, then a view of one’s nostrils is not pleasant. If you hold it, again, wondering how long you can do that. You will need the dock, which makes it less portable.

  4. I can see what you mean about the camera, Ron. I’d wondered why it wasn’t included – but I’d not really thought about the logistics of it! A USB socket, though, would be useful for things like a Flip – so you could have the web conferencing etc., if you want to – though clearly you’d have to carry it with you if you wanted to use it.

    The case of Flash is an interesting one; I don’t know enough about work place learning to be able to comment on Amit’s claim that most of it is Flash based; certainly in Higher Ed, comparatively little is; granted there may be Flash based components in a bigger package – just as there are videos etc.,

    Given, however, workplaces’ reluctance (in the UK at any rate) to allow the use of iPhones, I wonder if iPad for workplace learning is going to be a fairly small field.

  5. I agree with ROM, let’s not say that workplace learning cannot happen without Flash. There are other ways as well. We have a product which has not been produced for “e-learning” only. We need to figure out how best we can use the technology available and deliver learning solutions..

  6. @Rom – You’re right, HTML5 is SLOWWWWWWLY being adopted. Way to slow to wait to use versus Flash. It plays videos. Yay!! Unsecured videos that anyone can copy. And you want to support open technologies? The iPhone and Touch are the most closed systems I’ve seen. As soon as a developer makes an app that Steve Jobs thinks he can make money on, he bans everyone except Apple from making it. That’s the main reason Flash is banned. It would allow everyone to play games for free and not have to download from iTunes. And if you’re complaining that it runs slow, it’s because Mr. Jobs won’t allow access to hardware acceleration, which would probably solve the problem. Apple products are CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED!!!

    I’ll wait for an Android tablet to take over. They’re already taking over iPhones. It’s inevitable.


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