Thursday, October 25, 2012
At the recent unveiling of the new iPad Mini, Apple touted its use as a must-have educational tool having eclipsed MAC use by a factor of two to one in grades K-12. How soon the iPad replaces PC's and laptops in law schools? From Education Week:
While it may not be an intended outcome when Apple launched its iPad tablet device in 2010, K-12 schools seem to love the thing. iPads sales in K-12 schools are now twice the amount of Macs, Apple's desktop counterpart, the company's chief executive officer, Tim Cook, announced in July. (On Tuesday, he announced that 100 million iPads have been sold worldwide.)
So when word leaked this week that the company would be unveiling a smaller, cheaper version of its iPad—in typical Apple fashion, at an invite-only presentation in a San Jose auditorium, live-streaming online around the world— the education world took notice.
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The iPad Mini starts at $329 for a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet with 16 gigabytes of memory; a device with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, useful for students without Internet at home, starts at $459. Regular iPads for K-12 schools run between $379 and $829, depending on the model and specifications.
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During Apple's live event, Cook introduced the iPad Mini by touting its potential for schools. He said 80 percent of the nation's "core curricula" is available in iBooks, Apple's digital bookstore. He showed a glowing quote from James Ponce, the superintendent of schools in McAllen, Texas, which recently purchased 25,000 iPads as part of a $20 million digital learning initiative that I wrote about here. There is also a new version of iBooks, which allows people, including teachers and "not just the big three textbook publishers," Cook pointed out, to author their own textbooks. He highlighted the ability to include math tools and multi-touch widgets within the e-textbooks, though that functionality is available through other e-textbooks providers.
But overall, one of the big selling points for iPads in education is that the learning experience is better and less burdensome than print textbooks. There is growing support on a national level for the switch. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education and Federal Communications Commission unveiled a "Digital Textbook Playbook" that encouraged schools to switch to all digital materials by 2017—in a recent report the State Education Technology Directors Association followed that recommendation.
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