The iPad: Not the Right Product for Education

I’ve been reflecting the last couple days on Apple’s new iPad. The product that, before it’s announcement, some had claim would revolutionize education.

If it does…..it will be a shock to me.

apple-creation-0105-rm-engI have nothing against Apple (I’m typing on a MacBook that I love), I just think this piece of hardware is not what we need in education.

I had high hopes for this new piece of technology. Enough to stay up until 3am on a school night to watch the live announcement. Throughout the keynote, I was waiting to be wowed by something new, something different, something that would allow me to produce content in a new way.

But it didn’t come.

Leading up to the keynote I was watching TWIT.TV and their coverage. I don’t remember who said it, but one of the host said something to the effect of:

“It will be interesting to see what they come out with, when you start with the questions ‘How do we allow people to consumer media?'”

It’s a great question and I think the iPad nails that question on the head. If you want a new way to consume information, it’s a great piece of technology that allows you to do that.

We already have ways to consumer information in education. Consuming information has never been our issue. What we need help with is teaching students how to become producers of information and knowledge.

I wrote about this almost two years ago in a post titled “Moving from Consumers to Producers of Information” and have created a presentation that I give by the same name that has been well received.

I have no doubt that the iPad is a great consumer device, but I want my students to be able to produce videos podcasts and blog posts. I want them to be able to edit wikis with full editing features (Safari browser does not support many WYSIWYG Editors….including the one built in Moodle…an online course program used by a lot of schools). I want my students to becoming producers of knowledge not just consumers of it. We already have ways in which we consume information that work….I think…pretty well.

Apple’s own iPad website states:

The best way to experience the web, email, photos, and videos.

That might be so, but what’s the best way to create web pages, emails, photos, and videos. That’s the device I want. That’s the device I want in the hands of my students!