iPad in eLearning: Challenges and opportunities

by Brian Thompson

The iPad is quite a hot topic right now (and with sales figures in excess of 3 million, a hot product, too). There’s a lot of buzz about it in eLearning circles, too, some positive, some negative. Some even call it a game-changer. While it does spark the imagination for new fun learning apps, it has a number of challenges to overcome. Consider:

  • No camera. This excludes entire classes of applications (e.g. virtual classrooms, augmented reality).
  • No Flash support. The eLearning industry has invested a lot of time and effort in producing Flash-based content. Targeting the iPad requires either converting it into an iPad-compatible format or abandoning that content entirely.
  • Limited availability. Although the iPad has been selling extremely well, there are still less than four million of them in use. That’s an extremely limited reach compared to the billion-plus PCs in use, over 99% of which run Flash.
  • The App Store Terms and Conditions. One purchased application can be downloaded to up to 5 iPads, after which the application must be purchased again for the next 5 iPads and so on. That’s bad news for schools wanting to buy $15 apps for an entire classroom full of iPads unless Apple changes their terms.

Despite the challenges, the iPad is a very exciting device with great prospects for eLearning. Right off the bat, it makes a nice e-reader for any textbook in e-book format. Going further, it’s a relatively inexpensive touchscreen computer with great audio and video support. That’s a mix that can’t help but spark the imagination with ideas for learning apps that couldn’t really be done on older styles of computers.

Do you have any ideas for eLearning apps on the iPad? Leave a comment below!

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One Comment on “iPad in eLearning: Challenges and opportunities”

  1. Eric Stoller Says:

    Let’s not forget that one of the biggest issues with all touchscreen devices is there general lack of accessibility for those with visual impairments. Higher Education cannot fully adopt touchscreen devices for learning purposes until they are accessible for all users.


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