I work for our institutions "virtual campus". We're in charging of working with instructors to build online courses. We recently purchased some iPads to try them out and see how they would work with our what we produce. While Blackboard looks the same in Safari on the iPad as it does on a desktop (not that that's a good thing because it's still Blackboard), we (and any student who tries to access their courses this way) can not see a great deal of the media in our courses. All of our videos are Flash as well as any of our animated graphics.
I think that there is a huge potential using for iPads in education, but the Flash issue is going to continue to be the elephant in the room.
Thank you for your interesting topic.
One of the most controversial questions: Is Adobe Flash good for the web as a whole when we look at the bigger picture?
It seems with a large share of the mobile and tablet market, apple may create some big change on this front. We are seeing this change with some big players like Google, a very interesting demonstration of this can be found here:
The notion that the browser will take care of all the media related technology is an intriguing one when we think about the barriers in courses, the technology, getting it to work...
As the need for more rich media grows, we may see more movements like Blackboards iPad application converting flash within courses to an HTML5 presentation, closing the media gap:
This week, it is being widely reported in technology circles that Steve Jobs plans to also eliminate Java from Apple devices in general.
Our LMS is Blackboard/WebCT Vista, and various tools in that system rely on Java to work. This leaves me with great trepidation about rolling out any large scale program using Apple products due to compatibility with many campus systems.
Also, my personal view: This seems like a ploy to eliminate access for Apple users to many great free technology tools that are out there on web sites for free, and force the Apple customers and the tool creators to make special versions for Apple devices. If I have developed free educational games, and I want to freely share them with educators, why should I be forced to re-write my game and get Apple's approval to have my game listed in their app store(at their whim)? It seems a despicable degree of closing down things that have been previously openly available when you look at the long-term implications.
Also announced this week, is that Apple will develop an App Store for their next OS release(Lion). While this will be advantageous in many ways, I worry that they will try to lock down their desktop and laptop computers as much as they have the iPad.
Apple's Java support has sometimes been a bit flaky on Mac desktop OS too. I understand that they will stop distributing it with new Macs: you'll still be able to download it but that will be a discouraging factor for many users I think.
As a web developer, I have a lot of sympathy for Apple's decisions to not support Flash and Java on their devices. From the learning content that I've seen, only about 1-2% actually requires Flash delivery. The rest w/b better, more accessible, delivered as text/images managed by a CMS. For those topics that require Flash, it w/b simple to create an external file and link to it within the CMS.
The current poll in the sidebar ('Is the iPad any use for constructivist learning?') might also be of interest: not many responses as yet but there is a trend for it to be seen as primarily a consumer device.
If I've understood your question correctly, I'd have to say the iPad is not yet a well-developed platform for supporting authentic learning.
I am off to evaluate a similar project we have in UK with 40 students using laptops and text to speech or screen readers depending on their print impairment. So far evaluations are showing that the students gain in confidence, are taking control of their learning experience and even being more willing to attend school. It will be interesting to see if the Japanese project has the same results with the chic, lighweight and speedy iPad! I hope to learn next January but I suspect there will be lots of variables to take into account not least the different interactions with the text to speech where on the ipad you touch the word (characters) and on the laptop you tend to let the system read a phrase and then select a word with the mouse or keyboard! Does not have quite the same immediacy!
Apple has, with the iPad, taken a lead in accessibility for a general market product and much has been written about their success as communiction aids and as an assistive technology e.g. All Eyes on the iPad One good place to learn more is Ricky Buchanan's blog
On the subject of Flash - it can be made accessible and really helpful with embedded audio and keyboard access, but too often this is forgotten. However, I have to agree many teaching and learning materials include the use of Flash so this area needs recognition by Apple.
Thank you for your post and the poll on Constructivist Learning!
I am in total agreement with the statement of consumption and not creation, therefore illustrating a lacking element in tablet technology today.
Apple's Keynote and Pages applications are making some traction on the issues relating to the creation of learning, but they are not where we want them yet!
The most recent update to the firmware on the iPad (Version 4.1) seems to take away one of the values that I enjoyed most about the device. I enjoyed the concept of single-tasking. Now, users are back to the everyday distraction of many applications running at a time, creating more distractions for learning!
You make an interesting point about multi-tasking: I suspect the value to the user of multi-tasking is much greater when generating content than when 'merely' viewing. So I've found the lack of multi-tasking in previous version of iOS to be much less limiting than I expected.
Paul thanks for leading an excellent discussion. I would however like to beg your forgiveness and raise issue in the friendliest way possible with the use of theoretical terms that are being attached to iPads. I've really just been following this topic rather than participating but then I saw "Is the iPad any use for constructivist learning?" I was a bit puzzled by the question. So, can I just stick my nose in on behalf of educational theory for a moment? iPads could be used for constructivist learning but as always it depends on what you do with it, what it does to you etc and what you understand Constructivism to mean.
Constructivism, to my thinking, does not mean just making stuff. You could create materials all day long and it may not fall under the heading of Constructivism (or it could). Such activity may cause no cognitive change at all. In search of a theory, you could put 'making things' under a heading of Constructionism if you wanted to locate it under Papert's theory (for example). That would be constructions as externalised thinking. But if it's *Constructivism* you're after then I believe it's more to do with building on and re-structuring your current understanding. It typically involves eliciting your current view for comparison and for work on resolving the inner conflict that may occur in an encounter with new information. The new experience or information may not initially seem to fit and that may prompt you to wrestle with it and possibly change your view. Anything can prompt that.
So, is ipad any use for constructivist learning is a very 'it depends' kind of question and that might account for the lack of response to the poll. It's the same as asking 'Is a filing cabinet good for constructivist learning?' It could be or it might not.
Equally the term 'authentic learning' is also problematic, to me at least. When is learning 'un-authentic' for example? Is learning only something that happens in the workplace and to be regarded in some special way? If the workplace changes, closes or the work moves out of town is learning still authentic? Well if it reflects actual practice maybe but that assumes a great deal about 'practice' , the situated/diversity of practices across time and cultures and life-long contexts etc etc etc. When everything is changing perhaps authenticity is something only you can decide - maybe there is no apprenticeship or its an imagined community. Nor is it to be always defined by others.
Dewey said words to the effect that 'Education is not preparation for something else. Education is life itself' - suggesting education and learning for its own sake is entirely authentic. Perhaps if we ask authentic 'when, to what or to whom' we might start to unpack some of the possible flaws in the concept of authentic learning and re-locate authenticity elsewhere or even drop the term altogether? There's a whole mountain of issues in the concepts of 'authenticity', situated learning, communities of practice etc that would invite further discussion.
Again, whether an ipad could be used for 'authentic' learning depends on how we understand our terms. If it helps you learn something which is 'authentic' to *you* then I'd say its authentic wherever or using whatever. I'd really say that all learning is authentic.
Sorry if this is me going off on a gentle rant. I don't mean to say against the iPad (bless it and all who finger their text on one). I just don't want us to believe its good on the uncontested use of certain terms. I think it is good but not much to do with the mind-forged manacles of learning theory uniquely supports or disqualifies only the iPad.
Yours in a state of eternal disequilibrium,
Faculty of Education
University of Glasgow
- Constructivism - Piaget argues that humans construct knowledge through their interactions with their environments including other people and ideas.
- Constructionism - Seymour Papert (the major theorist) claims learning occurs through the process of making tangible objects in the real world.
My kids have to cope with unauthentic learning every day. Sometimes (less often than my kids) I have to. Several signs of we are in an unauthentic learning situation for a few brief moment or longer:
- (Trainer/expert) Looking at the gadget - "Oh, I don't know what is going on. It worked last night when I tried it"
- (Trainer/expert) "No, can't talk about this it's off topic"
- (Participant) "Is this in the test?"
- (Teacher in NZ doing NCEA) "Sorry, you failed. You got all the "excellence" points, but you only got four of the required five "Pass" points"
My own defintion: "The conditions, subject and context of learning are as close to the conditions, subject and context of the subject as possible" - and this is decided by community, participants and boss . .
It also has to do with assessment. Authentic learning involves assessment that is real. Not "Learn base guitar to play" and assess on paper.
That's why I like plenty of unadorned, unfettered internet access in class (when I say of course, I do have keyboard free times when we use chalk and paper): live and work with net, learn and do stuff in class with net. Warts and all. = Authentic. Give me a nice tablet, 1 between 3 students, (preferebly the Dell streak) and I'd love it. They'd help me figure out how to use it. Getting tired of places that block Youtube, H.264 non playing and PC's that all face the front.
OHHHH. Back to writing my client invoices.
I certainly wasn't trying to equate constructivism with making stuff or constructionism. But I believe that writing is *one* of the core components of constructivist learning, especially at post-grad level. It's certainly an essential part of my own learning, and it seems to be a very important component for most of the students I teach - partly to do with what you describe as 'eliciting your current view for comparison'.
Accordingly, to support my own learning I'd want to invest in a device which fully enabled the sorts of writing I do. Not because that's the only way I learn, but because it's a key part of it. And if a student asked for advice on what sort of computer or tablet etc to buy, I'd advise them to buy something which would support more than just browsing - eg would allow them to edit online content. Again, not because that's the only way they learn but because it's likely to be a key part of many courses.
I'm quite happy with the response to the poll - it's meant to be a trigger for this sort of discussion rather than gathering research data.
I agree that the concept of authentic learning is problematic as it can mean different things to different people and contexts: when it was posed as part of the discussion topic I wasn't clear what was intended but it's been interesting to see where this has headed!
Paul Left wrote,
Is the iPad any use for constructivist learning?
Via Heidi Piltz, who noted,
I'm not seeing this poll - this is the only side-bar I can find.
Just noticed your annotation Heidi. The poll Paul mentions is on the verso.co.nz site: http://www.verso.co.nz/resources/polls/
- content needs to be in 15 minute chunks
- videos need to be on UTube
- screen size for tables needs to be thought through.
In Moodle, these iOS limitations mean that, while you can edit pages, you can't use the wysiwyg toolbar to format text or insert links. For teachers and learners who don't want to learn HTML, this is likely to be seen as a step backward.
In the professional development courses I teach, creating hyperlinked web/wiki pages is seen as a core skill, but I can't expect participants to do this using HTML. So I recommend they use a standards-compliant browser such as Firefox, and avoid browsers (eg IE) that are known to cause problems with editing online.
If I ran a course where participants just had to browse and view content (other than Flash) online, I'd have no qualms about them using iPads. But because I build in collaboration and interaction the iPad would limit their active involvement.
The primary design criteria for my course were: Content should
- follow the RCPSC (licensing body) generic enabling competency format so organization and assessment is competency based
- be grouped into short pieces (20min) easily accessed on mobile devices and IPad in a busy hospital
- require residents to reflect on current and future practices in light of what they are learning in the module
- demonstrate real world examples of individual and community health advocacy that can be accessed online with preference given to Saskatchewan examples.
I started building it in Blackboard 9, but switched to PBWorks because I prefer its editor.
Scope always has great adventures.
I'm looking forward to the pros and the not so goods of the ipad.
I don't have one, but my niece does (a university student) and I'm considering one -- and am most interested in the travel advantages to find location.
That part amazes me. Of course, the other articles that people have posted are helpful for educational purposes -- and a critic's view. Thanks Jo Ann