Rumors and speculation about the second generation iPad have been bandied about since Steve Jobs announced the first iPad last year. This week, Apple finally unveiled the iPad 2, unleashing another huge around of press frenzy, fanboy adulation, and predictions that, once again, "this changes everything." As a technology blogger, I have to say I'm exhausted from it all. I wrote 5 posts about Apple and/or the iPad 2 this week for ReadWriteWeb. I did a iPad 2 Day video-cast, and I talked about the device when I was a guest on the Digital Campus podcast.
So yeah, the iPad 2. I'm over it. Don't get me wrong: I use Apple products. I own a MacBook, an iPhone 4, and an iPad. (Somewhere in a drawer somewhere, I've got an iPod and iPhone 3.) And the iPad 2 looks nice. But it's Friday. I wrote 5 iPad/Apple posts this week. I'm tired.
The Revolution Will Not Be...
The hype and the hubbub are exhausting. And perhaps that's why I'm irked by a headline like this one from Fast Company: "How the iPad 2 Will Revolutionize Education."
I am, admittedly, pretty skeptical about claims to revolution, just in general. To me, revolution means a dramatic (and often violent) political and social upheaval, and the term loses its meaning, I think, when it's applied to any new practice or change in behavior.
That's not to say that teachers don't and won't do cool things with iPads in the classroom. That's not to say that kids don't and won't learn with iPads -- at home and at school. But does that really make the iPad 2 revolutionary?
Fast Company asserts that the iPad 2 Revolution will include 3 things: mobile learning, virtual office hours, and mirror image lecturing (a.k.a. a projector.)
I'm sorry. A projector is not revolutionary. Connecting an iPad to an HDTV is cool, sure. But bringing projectors into classrooms for teachers to demonstrate and share is hardly novel.
I do agree that mobile learning, and online learning, and one-to-one computing have the potential to transform education tremendously. But that needn't happen via an iPad 2. (Me, I'm a fan of the mobile phone.) And I do think that this new version does address a lot of the complaints that some folks had about the first generation device. (You can read my initial thoughts on the iPad in the classroom here. I try to be more measured.)
It's hard to not think of the frenzy for the iPad in light of the recent article in Tech & Learning where Gary Stager questions the adoration of the interactive whiteboard. Better teaching and learning aren't inextricably bound to a new tech tool. Stager's article and the comments are interesting for their content as for their tenor. It's all worth a read, but here's a key quotation from the blog post:
"It all depends on how teachers use it. We don't buy a chain saw for every teacher. If we did, a few teachers would do brilliant work with the chain saws, a few others would cut off their thumbs, and the vast majority would just make a mess. Even in the case of the great teachers, the best we can hope for is one of those bears carved out of a log�not high art."
The iPad 2 is a different investment than the IWB, to be sure. It's in every child's hands
Or is it?
Perhaps the better headline would be "The iPad 2 May Transform Education... For Kids Who Can Afford Them." Or "The iPad 2 May Transform Education... When Teachers and Students Make Innovative Use of Them." Or "Mobile Learning, the Internet, and Connected Devices Are Changing Education. Check Out the iPad 2. We're All So Very Very Excited."