The Ultimate Guide to e-Learning via the iPad: Apps, Implementations and More

Apple launched iPad on 3 April this year, and, according to Apple, over 300,000 iPads were sold the day it debuted, including pre-orders. That number doubled, according to a report at CNN Money, when Apple did not include a second-day sales report that pushed that number over the top. Additionally, numerous article preceded the iPad debut, intimating that the iPad was the ultimate tool for educational experiences. While this leaning toward education may or may not have had an impact on initial sales, the news since the iPad debut has been mixed.

To that end, the following information provides information about schools that are implementing iPad, a few apps and information about how to find those apps for the iPad, and a list of further resources to learn more about this tool that may or may not change the face of education.

While you may be chomping at the bit yourself to purchase an iPad, the following information may cool your heels to see how issues play out over the summer.

Steve Jobs and iPadSchools Implementing iPad

Apple announced at the end of March that it now offers discounts to educational institutions for 10-pack Wi-Fi iPad bundles. Each package contains ten iPads with USB-to-Dock Connector cables and power adapters along with a single set of documentation. While this discount is minor, the cost of an iPad still is less than a desktop or laptop, and apps can be used to supplement the lack of other features.

Still, the only two schools that have offered to use iPads in the learning environment include Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania and George Fox University in Oregon. Seton Hill will give a new Apple iPad to every full-time student in fall 2010. George Fox is offering incoming 2010/2011 freshmen with a choice between iPads and MacBooks. While more schools, colleges and universities might jump on the iPad give-away before fall 2010, the investment might prove too much too soon for the technology.

Huffington Post listed seven of the most common complaints about iPads to date, including weak Wi-Fi, charging issues, crashing apps, typing problems, sluggish syncing and student issues that ranged from slow PDF downloads to the inability to save those PDFs. The other issue is cost, a major factor for some critics. However, that linked article does not mention how much a student might save by downloading rather than by purchasing textbooks outright.

That said, the push to use iPad as a educational tool is touted, at least tentatively, by individuals such as Mark Milian for the Los Angeles Times and by Lamarr Wilson for SchoolTech Consulting, Inc. Other advocates, such as Dr. Joseph Kim, state that iPads should be mandatory for learning. The latter approval comes on the heels of textbook publishers who are heading to iPad to put up textbooks, study guides and test prep manuals.

Apple AppsTop Educational Apps

Only three days after the initial iPad launch, Apple claimed that over 3,500 iPad-native apps already were available. According to Apple, there are more than 150,000 apps for iPhone and iPod touch at the App Store. And iPad works with just about all of them — including apps you may have already downloaded for learning.

The drawback — other than possible problems with apps — is that some educational apps that were free for iPod are not free for iPad, like The Elements. But, viewing The Elements on iPad seems to be a vast new experience, including the fact that this app now is labeled as a “book” at the iTunes store.

The following handful of apps provide a few examples of free apps you can download and use on your iPad. View more apps at the educational apps catalog at iTunes.

  1. Eponyms: This app provides short descriptions for more than 1,700 common and obscure medical eponyms.
  2. iThesaurus: You have access to over 140,000 different words, with the ability to get definitions as well.
  3. Skeletal System (Head and Neck): This app allows users to learn the skeletal system and is free for a limited time only.
  4. TED: Enjoy inspiration talks from the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conferences.
  5. The Wall Street Journal: This free app can help you stay on top of the stories that matter to you most.

Apple Store on Magnificent Mile in ChicagoFurther Reading

If you want to learn more about iPad before spending your money for the iPad and any other peripherals that you feel you might need, you can visit the following guides and opinions:

  • Apple iPad: This link leads straight to the iPad section at Apple, where you can follow links to learn more about this tool and how to use it.
  • Apple’s Education: Although not directly focused on iPad, this section of the Apple site is dedicated to education, including programs, seminars and more.]
  • Common Concerns about the iPad’s Use in Education: This is one of the many articles written before iPad was released. It is included because this article is fairly thorough, and because the links in the right column of this site lead to many more articles about education and the iPad, all at Edutechnophobia.
  • Developers seek to link iPad with education: This eSchool News article states that the iPad won’t replace students’ laptops, but a menu of applications could help merge the iPad with classrooms.
  • iPad 4 Edu: This is a forum where you can view topics and ask questions or provide answers to iPad educational topics.
  • iPad-Centric Education: An interesting article filled with Twitters about iPad and education, with a link per Tweet to learn more.
  • Apple iPad vs Kindle DX: Which is Better for Education? This article by Jeff Bertolucci at PCWorld provides a run-down of the pros and cons and the differences between iPad and Kindle DX.
  • First Look at the iPad for eLearning: A list of reasons to help you decide whether the iPad is for you and your learning processes, on campus or off through online learning.
  • Pros and Cons of the iPad in Education: The Apple Blog talks about the pros and cons of using iPad for education.
  • The iPad and Higher Education: In this guest post by David Parry, assistant professor of emerging media and communication at the University of Texas, Dallas, he states that he will not buy an iPad. Read on to learn why.

About Sarah Bass

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Sarah manages the editorial operations for Best Online Universities. Her responsibilities include proofing, editing, and developing content for the company’s Web sites. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree from Drake University and an MA in Writing from DePaul University. When she isn't working on new and entertaining articles for you will most likely find her curled up with a good book, walking her dog, Roger, or breaking the sound barrier on the Nürburgring.