iPad for the Classroom
Geeks everywhere have iPad on the brain this week, and that includes those who are educators. Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania is the first out of the gate to make iPad a mandatory assignment by announcing that beginning in Fall 2010 all first year undergrads will receive the newest creation from the House of Jobs, along with a MacBook laptop. This is part of the private Catholic university’s Griffin Technology Advantage program, which is billed to provide its 2145 students “with the best in technology and collaborative learning tools.”
At George Fox University in Oregon the iPad will be more of an elective for incoming freshman, who will be able to choose between that or a MacBook. The school’s CIO Greg Smith says that they’re asking students, “What computing system will work best for you?” Smith says it would be “reckless” to make the iPad the only choice because it’s not clear if the iPad is suited to all the tasks students need to accomplish.
A big question that hangs over the iPad in education stems from the lack of Flash support. The transition to Flash video has been strong inside the academy just as it has across the online video industry. Some major video sites and platforms, from Vimeo to Kaltua, are beta testing HTML5 streaming, but such a switch still entails a potentially expensive and labor-intensive shift for schools to undertake. On top of that, there’s still the issue of older content encoded in RealVideo and Windows Media that is still in use and cannot be played natively on iPads, iPhones or iPods. Finally, many multimedia elearning applications have been developed in Flash. Those also will be unplayable on the iPad.
At the very least it looks like some iPad-equipped students will be able to access courses in learning management systems. Market-leader Blackboard announced an iPad app for its Blackboard Mobile Learn platform, which provides access to course materials using mobile devices. In February Adobe released the Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro Mobile App for the iPhone, which connects mobile users to live and archived Connect meetings and content, and should also work on the iPad. But, again, at the moment content in Flash or other older formats may be inaccessible in either Blackboard or Connect.
Nevertheless, scores of K-12 schools, colleges and universities take advantage of iTunesU to distribute audio and video. We can be certain that the iPad will have no problems downloading and playing this content anywhere there’s a wi-fi connection.
Adobe’s CS5 and Education
Adobe’s debut of CS5 was the next big announcement of the month to catch the attention of video geeks. While the new versions of the Creative Suite applications certainly have much to offer educators, there is no update to Adobe’s core eLearning application Captivate, which hit version four last year. However, Captivate’s sister applications, like Flash and Photoshop, did get bumped to CS5.
Adobe’s new online service suite, called CS Live, is of particular interest to educators. Live includes the CS Review service intended to make it easier for production teams to collaborate on and review projects online without having to download assets or run an application like Premiere. The Adobe Story service assists in moving from script through post-production. Both services show potential to help educational media producers work more efficiently with faculty and instructional designers to develop, revise and approve content for elearning.
Looming over the excitement about the iPad introduction and the new CS5 applications is Apple’s recent change to their terms of service for iPhone app developers. This change appears to rule out the use of Flash CS5’s new Flash Packager to make applications developed in Flash ready to run as stand alone apps on the iPhone OS. This burgeoning battle between Adobe and Apple may cause educators to be cautious about both developing elearning apps in Flash and relying on iPhones or iPads to be replacements for laptop or desktop computers.