Tag Archives: ipod

The iPad in education

Wordpress on iPod - edit postIn an earlier post I discussed how Apple’s software development efforts seem very focused on consumption of media.

I’m interested in learning which incorporates producing information (not just consuming it) and which makes effective use of Web 2.0 tools to publish, not just to read. Given the iPad currently appears to have pretty much the same features as an oversized iPod Touch, the software limitations are likely to parallel those of the iPod. These include:

  • The only multitasking available seems to be that music can be played in the background while you use other apps. So moving content from one app to another is clumsy. Given the size of the iPod, this is not such a big deal. But if I purchased the much bigger iPad, I’d expect it to be more suitable for productive work such as editing web-based content.
  • Many web-based systems use WYSIWYG editors for creating and editing content. These are not available using the current iPod OS, so editing is restricted to plain text – unless you can use markup. This affects all kinds of web-based systems used in education: Moodle, PBWorks, Blackboard, Mediawiki, etc. In a wiki you can use wiki markup to get around this, otherwise you’ll need to use HTML. Either way, this will be seen as a big step backward by many educators and learners!

There are many apps which allow the user to access content as consumer but few apps which allow authoring. One that I really like is the WordPress blogging app which allows me to create and edit posts and pages and manage comments. Like WordPress, it’s simple, straightforward and effective. But notice from the screenshot above (on an iPod Touch) that the editor shows only source code (HTML). Now I work in that mode most of the time anyway, but I know many of the teachers I work with would see the loss of the WYSIWYG editor as a return to the dark ages!

Since the iPad is not yet available, my comments are merely predictions based on the current technology. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect the first iPads will not solve these problems. My advice to teachers: if you are using Web 2.0 tools or an LMS such as Moodle, you may not find a shiny new iPad is a suitable platform for creating and editing content. Unless of course you are prepared to learn some markup!

Apple neglecting productivity?

iPod TouchApple seems to be fully committed to intensive development of its iTunes-related software features to the detriment of other features. If you own a Mac or iPod/ iPhone for listening to music and watching videos, you’ll be happy. But if you also want to get on with managing your life, work and information, you’re likely to find the bundled Apple software a bit disappointing.

On the Mac, the standard Apple Mail software bundled with OS 10.6 seems to have changed little… it still has the same irritating bugs and limited features it had in 10.4. And iCal still has many limitations – it’s really quite a basic application. These Mac OS desktop applications feel like add-ons and don’t appear to have had much in the way of development effort for several years now.

And if you own an iPod Touch or iPhone with the latest OS, you can’t even sync your tasks with iCal. To be able to do this effectively, you’ll have to buy an app such as Appigo’s ToDo – luckily like most apps it’s pretty cheap. It provides much better features for managing your ToDo list than iCal does. But since it’s not allowed to talk to iCal directly when syncing, it has to sync separately. It does this over wireless with its own desktop application running on your Mac, which itself syncs with iCal. Not a big problem, but it’s all a bit clumsy.

If the much-heralded Apple tablet does appear next week as the rumours suggest, it’s likely to be attractive to users who want it for work as well as play. But unless the software bundled with it is much improved on what’s available now, they’re likely to find its usefulness is limited.