On Wednesday, USQ welcomed Stephen Atherton and John Webb of the Apple Higher Education Team, who gave an Apple University Consortium Seminar entitled “iPad in Tertiary Education”. The event was organised by the Faculty of Business and Law and was enlightening for all who attended..
Since its launch in 2010, the iPad since has sold over 25 million units and as a new category of device, it has revolutionised the way many individuals work, create, consume content and play. On release, as noted by Stephen at the start of the seminar, it was seen by some as a potential “game changer for education.” Stephen and John then continued to test this idea further by introducing the audience to some key educational features of the iPad – specifically, the iPad as a mobile device, iTunes U, educational apps, and E-books.
In the first part of his talk, Stephen cited Gartner and the Horizon reports, which predicted that mobile device use within organisations will be ubiquitous by the middle of this decade. He also reflected on how disruptive mobile technologies are forcing universities to react quickly to these changes, in terms of both IT provision (huge numbers of devices connecting to the wireless network) and of course reviewing pedagogy. Stephen pointed the audience towards a number of really useful mobile learning links and it is worth sharing them here:
- Conference videos from the Connected Summit 2011 at Abilene Christian University
- Fraser Speirs views on mobile technology in education
iTunes U is a distribution channel for public and private educational materials. It is a section of the iTunes store that allows learners to download and subscribe to literally thousands of lectures (both audio and video), PDFs and ebooks. Around 20 Australian universities have iTunes U sites and some of the world’s leading universities are participants, including Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge and the Open University. Stephen showed examples of successful implementations of iTunes U and some great content including short pieces which he called “vignettes” – my favourite being a physicist demonstrating the concept of pressure by lying on a bed of nails!
John was then given the floor and demonstrated a number of iPad apps that are gaining traction for educational purposes. These included:
- Popplet for iPad (mind mapping)
- Papers (research literature database)
- Evernote (notetaking)
- Discovr Apps (a discovery app)
- Explain Everything (lesson design)
- Muscle Pro II (a fantastic 3D anatomy app)
The final part of the seminar was dedicated to e-books and electronic publishing. Steve talked about the epub standard and how it was being utilised for electronic book creation for a number of mobile devices including the iPad. Epub allows the embedding of text, but also interactive content and video. The ability to annotate content, bookmark key pages and view content across multiple devices has the potential to revolutionise the printing industry and a number of publishers are embracing the format as well as offering their own apps with epub content embedded. One such company to watch is Inkling, with interactive textbooks including quizzes and study tools.
I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar. I think Steve and John demonstrated that the iPad does have the potential to be an educational game changer. There is no doubt that tablets will revolutionise the delivery of educational content in the coming years and currently, the iPad leads the way.
Neil Martin, Learning Technologist (Co-Pilot)