Last spring I was subjected to an odd pre-emptive attack on the iPad from a techie at a private school that requires its students to lease expensive P.C.s. She forwarded a fierce criticism on the supposed limits of the iPad written by a Windows slappy.
I was targeted for this polemic because of my association with Apple (ADE ’09) and because parents at her school were wondering out loud whether or not they might be spared about $2500.00 in cost by substituting an iPad instead for the required P.C.
At the time I fired back a snippy reply saying that the comparison was apples (pun intended) and oranges-- What the school should do, I said, was save parents $2000 and outfit students with a vastly superior MacBook.
But now I admit I was wrong . . . The iPad is superior to laptops in ways that I had not appreciated. In fact, I have seen them used heavily in favor of Macbooks by Apple educators, some who reported that their MacBook Pros had almost fallen into relative disuse. So what are the advantages of an iPad over laptops?
The iPad is lighter, smaller, and cheaper than laptops.
The 3g model allows almost ubiquitous connectivity.
Its ease of use is identical to its incredibly popular cousins-- the iPhone and the iPod Touch.
It has a beautiful presentation of most forms of media.
For many users, its basic functions satisfy all the needs of their current computer use.
Most importantly, third parties are writing ingenious apps for the device every day, pushing the envelope of its usefulness.
Now, admittedly this is an unabashedly biased take on the iPad. However,my point is not that schools should be staking their curricular futures on this or any device.
The Baker position is this: Connectivity rules, not machines. Instead of investing vast sums of $$$ in machines that are outdated shortly after they arrive, plow more into wi-fi and professional development. Get the community of learners on the grid and let connectivism do the rest.