The thing I love most about being a blogger is the direct engagement with my readers. Getting feedback and thoughts on posts directly is always enlightening and brings up different angles of a story or delivers the basis for an analysis like this one here.
This post is based on a comment in the Edupreneurs Club on Facebook (if you are an edupreneur and did not join our secret circle, what are you waiting for?). Based on my piece about the ShowMe App for iPad Glenn Weidner pointed out that Salman Khan is using a less costly setup to create his famous lessons and that the price tag for an iPad might be too high for most teachers who are looking to contemplate technology in the classroom.
Before I give you my take on this, I would like to thank Glenn for bringing this up and for posting the link to where Salman Khan explains his setup, something I had wondered about for quite a while. I really appreciate it.
I did not buy the first generation of the iPad as I felt back then that it did not live up to what it has eventually become. There was no camera and I did not like the form factor. And by now we all know that the second generation of Apple products is usually much better. So when it became lighter, thinner and featured two cameras I bought one but only the WiFi version with 16 GB. I don’t use mobile Internet because I find it still too expensive and there are enough WiFi connections available these days, even in rural Brittany. I also don’t need a huge disk space because I won’t download music, videos or tons of applications. Hence I paid 489€ and had to add another 39€ for the Smart Cover thanks to Evernote and StudyBlue later on.
The thing is this, when you decide to invest in an iPad you are investing into much more than just a nice looking gadget. As I said, the iPad features two cameras which turns it into a photo camera, a video camera and a video conferencing device.
With the iPad come the applications and as Apple paid over $2.5 billion to its developers up to now you can imagine that a big chunk of the brightest amongst them are creating apps for the iOS ecosystem. Therefore you will get an ever rising choice of really awesome applications, ShowMe is only one of them.
With the iPad comes its simplicity. I am also using Camtasia for my video interviews so I know that you need to have at least some experience in video editing to use it. Then you need to know how to upload a video, either to YouTube or other services. Then you need to know how to get viewers to see it, either on one of the major video platforms or, even more difficult, on your own website or blog. And of course you need a PC or Mac which, when we assume a teacher starts from scratch, is another big investment besides Camtasisia’s software and the tablet to draw on. On the iPad you download ShowMe and can start right away. If you are done you click on upload and the ShowMe is on a portal that is made for students to search for and find video lessons.
This last argument may sound cheesy, but the iPad is the future. You might have heard of the “post PC era” and the iPad 2 is definitely a very good example for this. It has about the same specs like my laptop but it fits in my handbag. Many of your students will most likely already have one or are going to have one in the family in the coming weeks. Remember the days when in a computer shop all the shelves were full of desktop or tower PCs and there was only a tiny one that had two or three laptops on it? Last time I counted 24 laptops vs 4 desktop PCs and this will again switch to tablets vs laptops.
The tablet will become the digital backpack of students. All textbooks will be digital in a couple of years, South Korea is aiming for 2015. Tests will be taken on tablets or smartphones, I will have an EDUKWEST with Naiku, one of the pioneers in that field, tomorrow. Learning and homework will be done via apps like StudyBlue and watching videos like Khan Academy or Brightstorm. Live tutors will be just a finger tab away as we can see already now with Motuto.
Now, is the iPad worth the investment? For me the answer is yes. Sometimes, you simply have to pay a certain price as an investment in yourself and for that matter into your own future. Or, in the words of the Prince of Darkness “Life won’t wait for you”.
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