Learning at the Speed of Technology

New iPad Promises to Revolutionize Certain E-learning Practices – For the Good.

Learning technology is moving almost too fast for even us in the media to keep up. The latest innovation is a little thing called the iPad. You may have heard of it.

The new tablet computer from Apple has a larger screen (9.7 inches) than your typical smartphone, but it’s still smaller than a breadbox. In this blossoming age of mobile learning, it should allow users to learn “on the go” without having to extract a magnifying glass from their pocket or lugging around a full-size laptop computer.

“We are intrigued by the interactive nature of the collaboration that could happen between learners, end-users, sponsors and designers of an application,” says Elliott Masie of The Masie Institute. “What can the iPad do that will afford new approaches to learning? For example, can we create e-pubs that are rich in multi-media and leverage the affordance of ‘multi-touch’ to allow a very different user experience as a learner?What changes in learning content will be stimulated? For just a few dollars, can we buy an app [application] that will assist or structure learning of a key topic? Can we find apps that will be performance-support-related [like] a spell- checker function for a key role or skill set?”

During the first week after the iPad went on sale to the general public, more than 1 million iPad specific apps also came to market. One of the earliest came from Blackboard Inc.

“The iPad can fundamentally change the way students navigate their educational experience,” says Blackboard’s Michael L. Chasen. “We think there’s a lot of potential for mobile learning to drive greater engagement.”

Another early release came from Citrix Online. Its GoToMeeting iPad app allows users to view online presentations and connect to conference audio via VoIP.

Both the Blackboard and the Citrix apps are free to iPad users.

For social networkers, MySpace, Google, Yahoo — and just about every other company in the world — probably will be trying to win over iPad users. In that regard, the sky’s the limit.

Initial iPad user reports were generally glowing, though there were some concerns raised about its comparatively weak wi-fi antenna and limited USB connectivity speed for re-charging purposes. The former problem should be corrected almost immediately when a 3G wireless version of the iPad (costing an extra $130, not including data plan) is released soon. The latter problem is best avoided by charging the iPad from a 10-watt USB power adapter (included with iPad purchase) rather than from a computer.

The glossy display is also said to be difficult to read in direct sunlight — and it apparently collects more fingerprints than the FBI.

For more information on the iPad, apps and accessories, you can visit the Websites
www.apple.com/ipadblackboard.com/Mobile/Overview.aspx and itunes.apple.com/us/app/gotomeeting/id363452804.

Additionally,Masie has established a blog for new iPad users at
www.ipadlearninglab.com

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