RSA: iPad themes for independent learning

March 3, 2013research

When Steve Jobs launched the iPad (way way back in 2010) he talked about the tablet filling a gap, something that fits between a smartphone and a laptop. He outlined seven tasks that the tablet would need to be better at, than a laptop or a phone. These were:Steve Jobs iPad Launch - Mobile Introduction - YouTube-1

  • browsing the web
  • watching videos
  • reading ebooks
  • email
  • enjoying and sharing photos
  • music
  • playing games

For my LSIS research project, HE tutors and students have been exploring the iPads and recently shared their top five apps. Here are how these relate to Jobs’ categories:

1. browsing the web

Chrome and Rover were specifically mentioned as favourite apps, and I also want to include here where people have discussed social media sites. Twitter was favoured by the tutors while the students mentioned FaceBook.

2. watching video

Various apps were used for watching video: You Tube, iPlayer, iTunesU and TED.

Both the tutors and the students talked about using the internet and video as research tools, but it was the portability, speed and ease of use of the iPad that made these tools so useful.

2. email

Along with email, the calendar and reminder functions were also liked, again for ease of access. These tools were used to support organisational skills – setting reminders for assignments, time management as well as for communication where email became more like a ‘phone’ that was on all the time.

3. Notetaking/storing files

The second most common category among the group was not something mentioned by Jobs. Apps in this group include Evernote, Bamboo, Noteability, Supernote, Dropbox and Teamview. The reason I have grouped these is that some apps offer the dual function of notetaking and storage, while others, such as Dropbox and Teamview are just storage.

Note-taking was a strong theme from the students. In terms of reviewing these notes, students talked about the value of having notes in one place. In addition, using the camera function and audio recorder function, in conjunction with Pages and Notability specifically, allowed photos to be taken and embedded during a lesson or oral notes to be recorded.

4. Social Media

Social networking was discussed more by the tutors than the students, and tutors talked about using Facebook or Twitter to encourage students to collaborate out of class and as a tool to access up to date subject specific content.

It seems that the ease of access and portability of the devices support both students and tutors with their studies and work, making them good tools for independent learning. Mobile internet and video makes research easier and note-taking apps keep notes in one place, easily organised and the multi-media aspects are valuable. It’s been great to get feedback from everyone and to know that everyone has taken using the devices for educational purposes very seriously.


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