The iPad is popping up in educational institutions all over the world (including my college) but the adoption of it as an educational tool seem to have hit a wall in some cases. A six month study conducted in 2010 at the University of San Francisco saw both positive and negative side of using the iPad, where the four major negative points were lack of a USB port, VGA-out issues, keyboard difficulties, and the inability to play Flash video. Other educational institutions have had similar hit or miss results, and a lot of it seems to come down to ability to use technology properly.
While this survey was conducted in 2010 (the fact it took them a year to publish the results is perhaps an indicator of something or the other in itself) I can’t help but point out how their four major points don’t make much sense. The VGA issues were resolved in iOS 5, though that wouldn’t have helped them a year ago – so OK. USB port? For what? External storage? You don’t ever need to connect storage devices to the iPad in a school situation because you’ll never be that far away from a computer that can be sued to send stuff wirelessly through any number services. In fact, you have to actually store stuff on the flash drive in the first place, and that’s more work than just sending it off wirelessly. To me, this seems like a case of looking at a car and complaining there’s no way to attach the horse that drags it.
Keyboard difficulties is also one of those things that I simply don’t get when people or all professions and affiliations bring it up. If you remove the keyboard from a laptop, you’re stuck with the Windows on-screen keyboard and a mouse to control it – a touch screen if you have a tablet. On the iPad, the keyboard is a much more integrated part of the OS, and arguable better to use. If you’re going to compare keyboard use between a tablet and a computer, you have to at least add a hardware keyboard to the tablet, or remove it from the computer. Even in 2010 there were a gazillion wireless and wired keyboard accessories, so if you’re going to whine about the keyboard on a tablet, at least add a keyboard first – or you will have to make the same point with a computer.
Lastly, inability to play Flash video. Wrong. There have been apps capable of doing this for ages. More in 2011 than in 2010, yes, but still. Even more importantly, more websites now use HTML5, making it a complete non-issue either way.
The reason why I feel the need to call this study out is that the entire study in itself is a great show of incompetence. The guy who presented this study did so a year after it was conducted. A year. That’s a decade in the tablet space. Presenting a year old result that weren’t even accurate back then to a crowd of people looking to adopt the iPad in today’s market pisses me off to no end, as it’s a dictionary example of the blind leading the blind. The room was filled to the brim with audience when he did the presentation too, so I don’t dare to think how many people have gotten a backwards view of the iPad’s educational capabilities because faculty members at the University of San Francisco couldn’t figure out how to use the thing a year ago.[Tabtimes via TUAW]