Alan Bracey from Academic Services in LSE Library recently attended CLT’s Imeet and was kind enough to write a short post about the event which we have posted below.

IMeet was billed as a friendly and informal group discussion on the use of Ipads and tablets in education. I’ve used Ipads before at work, but only briefly, so this session was an excellent introduction to what they have to offer. Here are some brief notes. 

 IPad V smart phone:

Most members of our group agreed that the IPad shares many of the benefits of their Smartphone, seemingly justifying the perception that an iPad is just a big iPhone that you can’t call people on [my opinion not the group’s]. Smartphones are better for:

  •  using maps and location features (phone is more portable, more discreet, less likely to get stolen pulling it out in public).
  • Smartphones can connect online outside wireless areas through phone signal, which only some IPads can do (3G enabled)

 Other general negative Ipad issues:

  • Expense – no real competitors, although the cheaper BlackBerry PlayBook is available and the Kindle Fire is due for release soon
  • Ipads don’t currently display Flash content on web pages. HTML 5 is expected to supersede Flash, however.  
  • Printing – you need a special IPad-compatible printer to print
  • Low memory size
  • No USB port  

 Practical benefits of Ipads:

  • For browsing online: battery life is very good, also speed of access (no wait for it to start up). Build quality is high. Design is more accessible, portable and lighter than most laptops – so useful for following online recipes while cooking…
  • As an e-reader. Jane noted seeing students reading from an IPad while typing up notes on a laptop. The touch screen makes an intuitive reader
  • For customer service situations: a PhD student noted that tablets are becoming ‘the future’ of healthcare. So doctors sitting by patients beds and showing xrays medical diagrams. Hands on, immediate, engaging, promotes a more intimate relationship between customer and service-provider.  
  • Immediacy (for all wifi enabled devices, laptops, tablets, phones). A PhD student noted how useful both prove in lectures – for noting references to papers and academics (see ‘Read it later’ app below). She also mentioned how she went to a lecture and added a reading to her Moodle course before the lecture had finished, which impressed her students.

 IPad benefits / apps

  • Sonja from CLT demonstrated the drawing/painting features, using a stylus, as popularised by David Hockney. But of more relevance for libraries, is the notesplus app which allows you to annotate text by writing on the screen with a stylus or your finger. This was a standout feature for me. You turn a document in into a PDF, and then you can scribble all over it. You can also type back onto the same document. Potentially very useful for note-taking or for brainstorming sessions, formulas, technical drawings, proofreading.
  • The Read it Later app allows you to save a reading list, which is synchronised across your devices. It saves a list of links which takes you back to readings, works in a similar way to bookmarking.
  • A member of staff from the TRIUM MBA programme mentioned they will be trialling the use of IPads for their next term’s class. All class readings will be pre-loaded on IPads, loaned out to students. This is using the XanEdu app. Copyright clearance is included as part of the service. Links to XanEdu readings are put on Moodle. This raises the point that IPads/tablets will only work as a teaching tool if all students have one. A member of our group noted the Indian Ministry of Education’s plans to provide tablets for students [not sure but this looks like the right scheme]. It was also noted that if tablets are becoming an important tool in professional lives, then encouraging their use by students is important.
  • Another use noted is by photographer’s showcasing portfolios [my flatmate does this, and mentioned the amazing depth of detail for photos]

 We looked briefly at IBooks – interactive books, but it was generally agreed that these wouldn’t threaten the existing model of textboots. An example is  Principles of Biology, which retails for $49 dollars per student. The content is licensed to you, not the platform – as long as you use itunes, or an IPad. None of the notesplus annotation features works with iBooks.