I assume everybody have already read about the Apple’s iPad launch. What kind of devices it is, to be used in schools?
I have been Mac user for more than 15 years. I am not a “fan” but very satisfied customer – even relatively big customer. I do not like the close ecosystem approach of the Apple, but highly appreciate their design thinking behind the products.
In the demo yesterday Steve Job explained that iPad tablet should do a better job than a smart phone or laptop computer in some specific areas. This is definitely a right way to design a product like this: to think some important things and make a product that is really good at doing them. This sounds simple.
Job’s list of important things in which iPad is really good at was:
- web browsing,
- watching video,
- listening to music,
- playing games and
- reading ebooks.
Now we may ask: what students need from their ICT device at school?
In 90% of cases this is it: web browsing with the ability to submit things online (including longer texts, such as blog posts), email, photos, watching videos, listening audio, playing games and reading books. In addition to this, students need a simple real-time communication channel with their peers, teachers and parents: a chat or phone. I assume, in the iPad there soon will be an application for audio/video call with add-on video camera. This is definitely something needed. On the other hand, I think students will anyway have their mobile phones, too for chating and calling.
I see in the iPad some similarities to the “ultimate network connectivity school device” I wrote about some time ago: a touch screen and “limited features”. That’s what we need in schools – well designed, simple and elegant tools that are non-distractive.
Why the simplicity is so important in school? Learning is a cognitive process. All extra cognitive load put on the use of tools is out from the learning. The technology used should never take the main role from the actual learning situation.
In a way this is the case with all human activity. That is also why Apple have took over smart phone market and have made internet mobile.
Often Apple is considered to be a “high-end” technology, but actually their competence is in their ability to design for the “masses”, the people. This is why they should have at least 50% of the school ICT-device market (actually I think this is already the case in some parts of the world, like in UK).
Some one just sent me a link to another example of simplicity and respect of human cognition. Do not make me think – I just want to “consume” my magazine!