mlearn project

Charles Sturt University's Mobile Learning Project

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Spreading the word

Our project sponsor, Philip Uys, has been on the road in 2012 and has been presenting about the mLearn project. You can view his presentations on The mobile movement: what does this mean for tertiary education and Creating and executing a successful mobile learning strategy – a Charles Sturt University case study over on Slideshare.


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iPads are in the wild

By the end of the week all our students should have received their iPads! That’s about 60+ iPads with students and a few more in the hands of academic and support staff!

It’s been a big effort from everyone involved!

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iPads are GO!

Last Thursday saw the delivery of 22 wifi-iPads into the hands of excited Education students. Believe me, they were excited — with the experience more akin to Christmas than a university device trial.

iPads Yeah!The session was not quite what I expected, in short it was absolute bedlam! The spectrum of ability with the device ranged from experts to those who had never used one, had not much experience with Apple products and didn’t have an iTunes account right through to those students who brought their own iPads!

At one extreme I had students who whooped, ripped the plastic off the devices and had run through the setup and was downloading apps while I was still handing the last device out. At the other end of the spectrum, I went step by step through setting up the iPad, and in several cases, guided students through the process of getting an Apple ID.

Working with the tech savvy spectrum

It was definitely a good lesson for me. I’m a qualified trainer, but I have never had to work with such a wide range of technical abilities before. Students have usually come to me with a good grounding in computing and an aptitude for technology. It will be interesting watching how the class manages with the exercises that have been designed specifically for the use of the iPad. All of these students know how to use a pen and paper, but the iPad may pose a challenge in thinking and doing for some of the less technically savvy ones.

Overall the class went well, although we ran out of time to show them how to use the primary app that the lecturer and I had selected for them. In the end I was left uncertain about how prepared they’d be for the next assignment which would be prepared exclusively on the iPad. I have some thinking to do about how much the new technology will impact their ability to get through the subject material in the time available, but that is a discussion for another week.

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The New iPad

So the new iPad has arrived. Its been met with mixed reactions in the media and a lot of “meh” from the tech blogs (like this one). Rather than be revolutionary the new iPad (oh yeah, that’s its name – the New iPad) is evolutionary. But the kind of evolution we are talking about is quite dramatic, in the sense that we are skipping stages. We are talking something similar to television going from black and white to colour, that sort of evolutionary step. Two years ago Apple created the tablet market, this time they are changing the we see it.

The big feature of the new iPad is the arrival of what Apple calls a “Retina Display” – where the pixels have been made smaller and many many more pixels are able to fit into a smaller space so that they are almost indistinguishable. This creates a crispness and clarity that rivals the printed page.

In real world terms the new iPad has more pixels in its 10.1″ screen than in your 50″ plasma. Its almost twice as high definition as blu-ray and HD TV. The only way to truly see how crisp and clear the new iPad to see it with your own eyes, because nothing out there can actually replicate it.

The new iPad represents a leap in display technology that Apple have been working on for close to a decade and it puts Apple way ahead of the competition. Other manufacturers have been obsessing over the chips inside, how fast and powerful they can make them, but most people don’t care about that. They want functionality, not a spec sheet. Apple have gone and developed something that makes a difference every day and every time you use it.

The Retina Display and the recent iBooks announcement puts Apple in the drivers seat when it comes to education. One of the key complaints by many people (quite often not iPad users) is that they don’t like reading of a screen. But now when the screen is as crisp and as clear as a printed page does that excuse still wear? Apple have just made reading on a tablet a much better experience, actually no – they have made reading on an iPad much better.

Looking for a recommendation on buying the new iPad? Well … I think it depends.

  • If you’re looking to upgrade from an iPad 1 – then yes it makes sense. The performance improvements alone will justify the spend.
  • If you’re a new tablet user – then you won’t get a choice. The next model will replace the current iPad 2 line.
  • If you currently have an iPad 2… thats a harder choice. When it’s released, I think you will know just by looking and playing with it if you want to upgrade. So head to you local store and see it for yourself.

What Apple have signalled is that the new iPad is the future and each new device is an increment and an evolution.They’ve even dumped the numbering scheme to prove this. They might not blow the tech writers away every time they come out, but what other product gets so much hype for a new model?  You don’t see a MacBook 11 or Sony TV 5 and you certainly don’t see this much coverage for any other piece of technology!

The iPad is consistently resetting the benchmark for the tablet, and the bar just got a little higher.