iPad passes Reed College higher ed test
Reed College took the Apple iPad for a spin in 2010 and was pleased with the tablet's performance as an educational tool. The College was one of several educational establishments that tested the Kindle DX when the eReader was launched in 2009. When the pilot program was completed, the Kindle DX was deemed a failure for usage in a classroom situation. Where the Kindle failed, the Apple iPad excelled according to CTO Martin Ringle who was speaking with Fast Company.
According to the results from Reed College's iPad pilot program, the iPad's responsive and smooth scrolling touchscreen made it ideal for reading content in the classroom. Navigation among passages was quick and easy, a task that was difficult using the Kindle's navigation pointer. The highlighting and annotation of text was also easy, with many students choosing to highlight text on the iPad over traditional pen and paper.
The iPad pilot program did point out some flaws, most notable of which is the virtual keyboard. While easy to type short messages, the onscreen keyboard is not designed for long-form writing. This shortcoming could be alleviated with an external keyboard that lets you input text in a traditional and comfortable manner. The purchase of a keyboard, though, adds an additional expense to the final cost of adoption. Syncing and file system issues are also a hindrance as transferring PDF files via iTunes is slow. Once synced, documents are difficult to locate on the device, though the use of a third-party application like Good Reader would mitigate this issue.
Interestingly enough, the Reed report on the pilot program suggests schools may be open to the usage of Android tablets as well as the iPad. If a device hits the right price point and the correct set of features, schools will adopt these tablet devices en masse in the upcoming years.
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