Could the latest tablet from Apple be the ultimate mobile learning device?


It was hard to miss that Apple’s iPad 2 was released internationally last Friday. If you braved the lines and the cold, you might have been lucky enough to snag one for yourself. Not me yet, but it’s definitely on my wish list.

I wasn’t so sure about a tablet device until we got our 1st gen iPad, but now I’m sold on how comfortable it makes ‘couch computing’. It’s an easy way to check email, access the Internet and watch videos, whether I’m working in comfort outside of normal office hours or using it for fun. And let’s not forget the apps—hundreds of thousands of software applications that can do everything from balance your bank account to manage your to-do list to playing some Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies (I admit it, I’m guilty).

With its even thinner profile and 10 hour battery life, plus the added front and back facing video cameras, I’m wondering if the iPad 2 can finally be a perfect platform for mobile learning. There are already rumours about Apple releasing an LMS for the iPad 2, which would take advantage of the unit’s fast processor, speech-to-text integration and video conferencing.

Think about the possibilities here: having your remote workers take a tracked mobile learning module, then getting on a video call with a supervisor to demonstrate their learning in their workplace. Later, they check into a module wiki to see how others have put their learning into action, or even see or record videos to facilitate knowledge sharing. All from the same device. Pretty cool stuff.

Even without a supported LMS from Apple, educators can take advantage of existing apps to communicate directly with students, post messages and discussions on virtual whiteboards, and conduct “virtual workshops”. As a learning support tool, the iPad is ideal.

I think the main barrier to implementation would be price, as the low-end iPad 2 version costs a steep $519 (16GB of storage and Wi-Fi only). But when you think of the savings of no longer needing to gather the workforce in to a central location and backfill during training sessions, it starts to become a more practical option for the long term. And given we still have a perfectly functioning 1st gen iPad in our house, I think there are good prospects for a long life from any product from Apple. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds…