Where does the iPad fit in education?

After some initial hesitation before the launch of the iPad as to how effective, stylish and useful it would be for the home user I am yet to hear many complaints since it hit the market early last month.  Compared to the iPhone it is quick, has a beautiful display and Apple’s handprint all over in terms of the user interface, design and ease of use.

However, does the iPad really stack up as a useful tool for teachers and students?  Sure it has some educational apps that I examined last month that look great but is this a tool we would want our kids reaching for on a daily basis or are there better alternatives.

I have read reams of information about how the iPad is going to revolutionise education which I find amazing as obviously none of these people have tried to use it in a genuine educational environment. I have put together some pros and cons for the iPad in education below as I see it at from my own experiences.


Battery Life:  10 hours, you wish.  But 7 are realistic and more than acceptable for classroom needs.

Cost:  comparative to a high end netbook or a lower specced laptop it is definitely on the radar of most school budgets.

Single tasking:  Yes this can actually be a pro in the classroom.  No network games going on in the background of other applications means students can remain focussed on the job at hand.

Space Conscious.  No need for a dedicated desk you can work from your lap and it can be stored compactly and securely within your classroom.

A large range of cheap apps:  Tens of thousands of programs to choose from.  Surely there is an app for almost everything now.

Beautiful display:  Yes it is.


Single Tasking:  You can only do one thing at a time:  Didn’t this go out in computing 20 years ago when OS2 Warp was launched.  I know OS 4.0 is working on this but really… This is 2010

Multiple User License Software:  I see this as the biggest killer to the iPad in Education. Apple are clearly not interested in coming up with a solution to this as it is just not as profitable as the 30 something single user market.  Buy apps individually and install them individually. Good luck keeping up with that when you have more than about 5 of them.

No Camera:  Really how hard would this have been and how many less options does it offer students.  I am sure it will appear in the next model.

ITunes:  Yes, everything you want to do on your iPad in terms of managing your hardware and software has to run through iTunes.  You should really feel confident about this.

Can’t re-image or upgrade multiple units:  Our techies will love dealing this on a one at a time basis through iTunes. 

Networking Nightmare:  Anyone want to print or access a shared database of information or files?  Well good luck with that.

File compatibility.  In a perfect world every media file would be written in a format Apple could sell.  But unfortunately the vast majority of digital content is not.  Oh Well...  I won’t mention the word FLASH either.

Breakability:  It is Oh’ Sooo pretty and I’d be cautious letting my students pass this slippery sucker around a busy classroom.

Single User Accounts:  Yes, maybe more than one person would like to have a profile on the iPad. 

Conclusion:  The iPad is great for single use on a simple home network and probably meets most of our needs in this role and I commend Apple for their innovation in producing it. However it is clearly a long way from any environment that multiple users would like to use with reliability and confidence for the many cons it offers.  The iPad education revolution has a long way to go in my opinion as it just not up to the job in schools.

As always Apple you have given us a taste of what might be in a few years with your lovely iPad but I’ll be leaving mine at home for the moment.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this too.

Top 5 reasons to Switch your school to Windows 7 Sooner than Later

Today is the official release of Windows 7 across the globe and from my own experiences of using it as my primary OS at work and at home and from the many reviews it has received over the last couple of months it is clear that Windows 7 is a great operating system that should restore the faith of many maligned Vista users and become a real alternative to the now archaic but robust Windows XP.  It is reliable, visually appealing, fast and full of new components to make this the best version of windows yet and the OS of choice for your school network from here on in.

Speed to Burn and Reliability you can bank on:  Most users who upgraded from Windows XP to Vista instantly were disappointed that there computers performance dropped off for no apparent reason.  Whilst this has been a common trend when upgrading an OS in the past both Apple’s Snow leopard and Windows 7 will actually buy you a few more years out of your current hardware as I can attest to on My Atom Powered Low Specced Netbook and an old Pentium 4 PC here at school that run windows 7 quickly and responsively.  For those of you with a new quad core and a beefy new video card Windows 7 flies under Direct X 11 to produce the best gaming and multimedia performance currently available on any platform. 

Windows XP doesn’t really understand what a quad core or an i7 Processor is and offers practically no performance benefit for them.  Windows 7 has been designed from the ground up to capitalise on these processors.

I have not yet sighted the Blue screen of death under Windows 7 after 12 months but I will cross my fingers saying that.

Considerable Power Savings:  windows 7 is the greenest Microsoft OS ever and this will not only make you feel a little better about our planetary demise but in the case of notebook and netbook users dramatically increase your battery life to get through a day at school.  Microsoft claim as much as a 40 percent increase in battery life over XP and a slight increase for Vista users.  Some large corporations have justified the power savings made from switching from XP to cover the cost of upgrading to Windows 7.  For large schools with hundreds of desktops and notebooks this might be a consideration for you too.

Your New Digital media Hub:  Windows 7 Now supports multitudes of video and audio formats straight out of the box including AAC and H.264.  I have not yet had to download a codec pack to play a video or audio file although I am sure they are out there.  Plug and Play compatibility to 3rd party devices has been dramatically increased and you should now expect your camera, iPhone or USB device to work straight up under windows 7 without fishing for discs or trawling the net for drivers.

Windows 7 allows streaming of high quality video and audio across a network with fuss and Windows Media Player 12 kills iTunes in every department which looks slow, ugly and is still riddled with bugs it has carried for years now.  Apple I love what you do but iTunes is sorely in need of a makeover. 

Best Windows Interface Yet.  Windows has long been the ugly sister of Mac OS in terms of its look and feel and Windows 7 has worked hard to improve this area.  It’s slick Glass Aero interface is bright and colourful and fonts look a lot sharper and clearer which will be a benefit on interactive white boards and students that have trouble with their sight and of course those poky netbook screens look a great deal cleaner.

As I said earlier it is quick sharp and and the new toolbar allows you to put more your frequent apps and tools at the ready and you simply hover for animated thumbnail of the window running with no slowdown.

You asked for it:  Yes you did, let us now put Vista and its many misconceptions and genuine flaws behind us and move forward with confidence to the best enterprise OS available.  As I said I have used it for over 12 months on gaming, multimedia and networked office rigs and I cannot put it any simpler that this is the best version of windows ever.  I would not recommend the average classroom workstation bothering going 64 – bit just yet as it is simply not worth it for the vast majority of apps. But 32 is super fast none the less  So when you are forward planning in regards to your schools network infrastructure I can see absolutely no benefit in staying with Vista and XP considering most educational facilities will have windows 7 included as a free upgrade under your current licensing agreement with various Education Departments and Microsoft.