Monday, April 5, 2010
IPAD –Transforming E-Learning One App at a Time?
It is never easy to jump into the iPad discussion as there is so much noise and hype out there. But since many are anticipating that the sales for iPad will rival those of the revolutionary iPhone it is very tempting to make some preliminary judgments. As many of the pundits have already said –in the near term the most popular uses for the very attractive sleek electronic package, with its ever so bright 9 ½ inch screen is for reading magazines and newspapers and playing the thousands of games and other entertaining activities that will multiply in coming years as more software developers devote their energies to designing the next coolest app.
But I am seriously wondering whether the next big use for the iPad (a killer app no less) will be to transform e-learning. The breakthrough will come if someone was to develop an LMS app as Joshua Kim speculates in his interesting blog. Kim maybe right that if that were to happen we would see an incredible growth in online learning. Currently, as Kim points out, copyright laws and some odd higher education policies prevent us from going in this direction. But there is no insuperable reason why they cannot change and we could see a content rich organization (we can think of any number from the New York Times, Pearson or Harvard University) allow students to download and sync content in much the same way we can using any newspaper app available on the iPhone. Think of the customization for individual learners as students with differing learning needs can choose from a menu of content options—videos, articles, chapters from books with some marked premium content for those that are able to pay more for the opportunity to explore a concept in more depth.
Think of the iPad as a device that you can learn from more easily from where broadband connections do not exist. Although missing a camera –the device does possess a microphone and speakers and can connect with the Internet through Skype. With not much effort we could figure out a way to have the best professors in the world deliver their lectures assisted by teams of volunteer mentors (think about the hundreds of thousands of people who play chess or scrabble online) who could provide assistance to students who are wrestling with problems. Learning organizations of all types –from tiny schools through colleges and universities to large corporations could scale up in massive ways. Some institutions might empower tutors trained in the uses of the LMS to provide personal services to students –who could diagnose student learning challenges. Others would begin to automate far more functions such as providing provide short tutorials in the form of videos that explain difficult concepts in more detail than would otherwise be available currently. The key to the puzzle of figuring out how the world of open learning squares with the current higher education system would be over—learning would be open everywhere and there would be no more barriers to higher education other than the will to learn. A utopian dream may not be that far away..