For the past six weeks I have been demoing the iPad to see how it would work in the classroom, and my conclusion so far is that the iPad is a piece of school technology that is going to severely change education over the next two years.
Reason Number 1 - Size: The iPad is just the right size for education -- not too big, not too small. It fits nicely on a desk, with still plenty of room for workbooks and textbooks. A full size laptop takes up 80% of a student's desk, leaving very little room for anything else.
Reason Number 2 - Weight: Everyday as I watch my own two children leave for school with their backpacks stuffed to the limit with textbooks I think that there has got to be a better way, something to replace all those heavy textbooks with something better. With the iPad being able to store hundreds of textbooks, say goodbye to bulky and heavy printed ones. At just over a pound the iPad is barely noticeable in a backpack.
Reason Number 3 - Coolness: At first I thought about leaving this one out, but then I started to think about the need to get fussy teenagers to accept anything new. Trust me, if teenagers think that something is dorky then there is very little chance of them using it. Since Apple has the "coolness" factor down pat -- everyone is going to want one.
Reason Number 4 - iBooks: Now students can walk around with thousands of books in their iPads. These electronic books not only have color illustrations but are also searchable -- something impossible with a traditional tree-destroying book.
Reason Number 5 - Apps: There are currently over 200,000 apps and that number increases everyday. With there being an app for nearly everything imaginable, students can fill their iPads with everything from graphing calculators to language translators. Again, that means less items to haul around in their backpacks.
Reason Number 6 - Knock Offs: Truthfully, I don't know if it will really be the iPad that will do all this. The reality is that it someone could come out with a tablet PC that is 10 times better for only $100 (Okay, I know I am dreaming), so it is going to be fun to see what gets made by the big PC companies over the next few months.
Reason Number 7 - Battery Life: At over 10 hours of battery life, there is finally a piece of school technology that works for students. They can use the iPad all day at school and never worry about having to recharge it.
So there you have it. I left off some obvious ones like the Internet, of course the fact that all students will have access to the Internet the whole time while they are at school if they have an iPad is going to be big.
Hold on educators the next few years are going to be a bumpy yet fun ride.