Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why the iPad is bad for education

‘Amazing, revolutionary, a new era in technology’.  The iPad may be all these things but in my humble opinion it is bad for education and schools.  Here are some reasons.

They aren’t popular.

The iPad isn’t designed to be a primary home computer.  Not even a secondary device.  Ask any student, do you want a cell phone?  Of course they do.  So, at best, an iPad is a tertiary technology purchase and won’t have the ubiquity education needed to begin meaningful integration.  The classes will be split between the have and the have not students.  iPads promote social division between students who we are encouraging to work cooperatively in our classes.

They are only designed to be a one user device.

The reason that most schools still have computer labs with desktop computers is multifold.  They always have power and have good connectivity as they are wired to the network and internet.  They are also great for having multiple students use them in a given day.  This doesn’t work for the iPad.  Take for example the email app which is designed for one user to check and send messages.

Back to my previous point.  Apple has designed a one user machine for the simple reason that the less it can be shared the more they sell.  Even at the ‘cheap’ price of $499 that would be a whopping $400,000 to get them for all the students at our school.

They promote media consumption not creation

The small keyboard is difficult and slow to type on.  Voice dictation accuracy is average to poor.  Our ESL and special need students who most need voice input, it would be terrible.  Therefore, writing, blogging and having students create projects would be a worse experience than regular laptops/desktops.

Purchasing Apps is for individuals not schools

There isn’t clear information on how schools can get discounts for bulk purchase of apps.  Check out the terms of use on the apple site.  Let’s say your class has a mix of school owned and personal iPads.  If you had ‘an awesome’ paid app, how would you get it on all iPads?

They don’t support flash

Really Apple?  I’ve read Steve Job’s open letter to Adobe and still don’t get it.  There are so many great free educational sites that are built on flash.  One of my favourite websites for having students practice keyboarding flash based Dance Mat Typing.  Why can’t I use this site on my iPad?

They are fragile

Take this as an example.  Let’s say your school uses eBooks on the iPad.  Now the simple statement of ‘open your book and turn to page 123’ is now a lesson in patience as the device loads, student find the app and opens the textbook.  If the book is WiFi dependent there is another challenge to overcome.  When the battery runs out there isn’t only no iPad there is no textbook.


I’m not the only person who feels this way.  Here are some other posts to support this view

Why iPads can’t succeed in education by Liam Cassidy

Why the iPad Will Not Reform Higher Education Anytime Soon by Lindsay Pund

Thoughts or Comments?

OK, I know that this post is intentionally controversial and against common views of educators that own one (including myself).  Agree or disagree with a comment below.

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