What’s it Good For?

The biggest impact of the iPad would be in the textbook market, said several officials interviewed by The Chronicle.

via chronicle.com

I wonder if this is actually the case. I'd love to hear what people think. I'd like to organize a pilot that looks at several key questions — note taking, portfolio management, eBooks, personal publishing, podcasting (lecture recording) and some other ideas that would be great to collect from the Internets. Anyone care to offer some thoughts on what we could study if we figured out a way to make iPads available to groups of faculty, staff, and students on our campus?

17 thoughts on “What’s it Good For?

  1. I think a study of eyestrain between a backlit ipad & an e-ink (kindle) would be worthy.
    It would be subjective but with a large pool we should see some correlation.

  2. Brian, that is a good question … not sure how we’d measure and I am betting human subjects would not approve that IRB! A more general review of the overall accessibility might be interesting. The iPhone, believe it or not, gets high marks in that department.

  3. Assuming, of course, that the pad’s ebook reader even allows those capabilities. Not all ebook readers do. Even if it does, will it sync them between multipledevices and make them accessible online?

  4. I’ve read books on both the Kindle and the Kindle app on my iPhone. The e-ink is definitely crisper, but I have come to love having a backlit screen and not having to have a separate light source to read. Don’t get me wrong.. I’d love a Kindle if I had one, but I just don’t see the need when I have an iPhone.
    As far as a study, note taking and eBook annotation are pretty important features to look at. We talked about the instructional value of Kindles in class yesterday, and pretty much everyone agreed that the limitations of the Kindle’s annotation features eliminated it as a replacement for textbooks. If the iPad would allow students to read a textbook and scribble in the margins (I don’t know that it does) it would be an effective alternative to paper textbooks. As for audio capture, it would be great if it mimicked some of the features of the Livescribe (http://www.livescribe.com/) namely the ability to play the snippet of audio that was recorded when a particular section of notes was being written. If it doesn’t out of the box, I’m sure people are going to create apps to do these things. The form factor of the iPad just screams for it to be used like a notepad. I’d hate to say it, but I just hope someone releases a stylus that works well.

  5. Is it really an surprise that a huge print journal source thinks the biggest impact will be on textbooks. They simply can’t see past the end of their nose (or the end of their journal).

  6. Chris, I love the idea of real note taking over texts … if one could insert comments (audio, video, and text) like you can in a google doc they’d have something really special. If you’ve ever used some of the features of Keynote that let you annotate your own presos it seems like a no brainer.
    Speaking of Keynote, I hope they leave the ability to record the audio of a running preso so it syncs with slides. That coupled with a publish to podcast producer (if that ever grows into something production worthy) you’d have a compelling lecture capture system.

  7. Scott … no kidding. Did you see the new This American Life iPhone app? For something like $3 you get every single episode (and maybe new ones) in a resident app. I am guessing it goes out and fetches each one on the fly. I wonder how long it will take for others to see how interesting it can be to bundle web services with the speed of local apps? Ask me sometime about some other thoughts about that source.

  8. One thing I would like to see tested is a replace for Smart slate technology. Where you could pass it around the room and have other students write on the screen. Maybe the whiteboard app could do that. I am also interested in using the iPad as a presentation tool. I can connect my touch to a project and display the not so stellar PPT slideshow with my AV cord to a standard projector or to my pocket project. If most of your apps are from the web why can’t the iPad be something for K – 16 teachers use to present to their students. Currently, we have students adding comments to PDF files with Adobe Reader to presentation notes. If Adobe Reader could do the same, you could edit the text and the PPT presentations at the same time. I have a few other ideas if you want hear more.

  9. This article guessed that the ability to annotate (within iBooks, at least) will be available in iPad version 2.0:
    I’d love to see that happen.
    I’m sure that we will be testing the iPad as an e-reader. I suggested yesterday that we outfit one of our smaller instruction rooms (currently computer-less) with iPads to facilitate collaborative work. No one said yes to me, but I wasn’t entirely turned down either. Somewhat encouraging.
    I’m certain that we will pilot iPads for use in answering roving reference questions throughout Pattee and Paterno. We are currently using the iPod Touch for this purpose, but it is simply too small to facilitate most of the work necessary when answering reference questions.
    Keep me and Emily posted on a possible iPad pilot. We’d love to work with you all on this! 🙂

  10. Ellysa … as a TLT Faculty Fellow you know we are right there with you. I’m interested in finding as many compelling use cases as we can to see what happens with the iPad. Let’s find time to talk about some ideas!
    Nathan … if the thing can really do killer presentations then it is a winner in my book. That is certainly something I am keenly interested in! More to come as they become available.

  11. What would be super cool, imh(and biased)o is a study in a tech writing classroom (202C) using the Apple iPad. Many techwriting courses here at Penn State already use an e-book, but I’m not sure how the interface is right now. It would be interesting to look into if it’s compatible in anyway with the iPad, and with the PSU blogging software (which many 202C teachers use and could be done on the iPad), Keynote on the iPad (so presentations could be done), I think it would integrate quite well, with the exception of creating many technical documents (though Pages would work, I hate that program). Peer Review could be amazing depending on ability to comment on the thing and email to each other.
    Stuart, Rebecca, and I used the Sony ebook Reader in English 30 and 584 last year, and I think it resulted in interesting data through interviews, presentations, and reflections. Something similar could be replicated.
    Problems: doing so sooner requires the first generation iPad, which might be super limited compared to a second generation. Getting money for 25+ iPads and then checking them out to students for four months. I mean, the thing is expensive.

  12. Hi Michael, I like the idea of peer review and I wonder if coupled with the PSU Blogs that work could be moved to the comments? If the open nature of that wouldn’t allow for authentic critique maybe we could look at course protected blog spaces?

  13. We could design a study that extends our work with the Sony Reader. Part of that could consider single-purpose (Sony Reader, Kindle) vs. multi-purpose (iPad) devices. We have 200 pages of field notes from our Sony study! Working on interpretations now.

  14. Cole,
    Displaying images in-sync with audio on a mobile device is a powerful tool for learning but is underutilized. I can’t wait to experience enhanced podcasts (using Keynote – Profcast for example) on a larger screen.
    It’s now possible to create and play custom audiobooks (with text) on iPhones and iPod touches. Multimodal learning is especially helpful to students with assistive learning needs but would apply to anyone. Imagine the potential with an iPad! There may be a lot of hype about a separate textbook market, but assembling multimedia materials with open source resources excites me the most!
    As Chris mentioned I look forward to eBook annotation (text and audio), dictionary lookup, bookmarking, and hyperlinking. Anything to help with reading and notetaking.
    Like this article on the iPad experience: http://db.tidbits.com/article/10960

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