Archive for January 2010

Six Questions for the Apple Tablet & Higher Ed

So now we know: Apple’s new tablet will be called the iPad [insert joke here]. It will cost $499 to $829. It will go on sale in March.

But along with some answers, the announcement of Apple’s much-ballyhooed device raises some questions. For instance, I was already asked yesterday when we can expect to see a “10-inch version” of our research news site. I could have just opened the Web browser on my 10-inch HP Mini netbook, pointed to the site and said, “Voila!” But of course that’s not what he meant. He meant when can we expect to see a tablety, slidely, swirly, touchy version of the site like the stuff shown in today’s wow-factor demo.

Um, let me get back to you on that.

Here are some more top-of-the-head iPad questions for those who work in higher education:

1.) What will the iPad mean for the future of college textbooks? With traditional textbook costs running high, and e-books costing half what a large doorstop version costs, will students and parents make the plunge into iPadland and how fast will textbook publishers follow?

2.) What will it do for the use of technology in the classroom? Rather than just serving as a envy-generating machine on which to view and listen to the same stuff you can already view and listen to on other devices or the Web, are there real opportunities here for creating new collaborative experiences?

3.) Will in be embraced or pilloried by faculty? I suppose the answer to that one is, it depends on the professor. Some don’t allow laptops or smartphones in the classroom now. But what if all the student’s textbooks are on this new device? How kindly will faculty take to something they may just consider a giant distraction or worse — a cheating machine?

4.) Will existing iPhone / iPod apps need to change? For folks who have gone to the effort of creating a great iPhone app for your school or athletics team or library, etc. (or are in the process as we are) it’s not an insignificant task. All the old apps will work on the new iPad, but is it worth it to create yet another one to take advantage of what the iPad has to offer (whatever that may be)?

<siderant>I remember with gauzy nostalgia the days back in,  say, 2003, when we were all going to design and develop once and publish everywhere with CSS and XML and XHTML. No more mobile version, print version, text-only version. Today we have a mobile version, an iPhone app, a Blackberry app, an Android app, an iPad app, etc. What happened to the dream, man!</siderant>

5.) Will your app become your website? Or will your website become your app? Along those lines, I can sorta kinda imagine a time when the whole mobile-version-of-your-website vs. standalone-app model breaks down and your app *is* your website. Or your website is your app. Or something like that (still thinking this through, sorta kinda).

6.) And most importantly, who will be the first school to provide all its incoming freshman with an iPad? I guarantee you a cover story in the Chronicle of Higher Ed and the NY Times Educational supplement.


My Inauguration Boots

Those are my Inauguration boots.

Every time I wear them I say to myself — sometimes silently, sometimes out loud — “these are my Inauguration boots.”

One year ago today, my Inauguration boots saved my life (or at least my toes) as I stood in them for 12 hours straight along with thousands of my fellow frozen citizens to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

One year later, the warm and fuzzy feeling of my Inauguration boots hasn’t faded, even if the warm and fuzzy feeling of the Inauguration has a little bit.

A lot has happened in that one year: troop increases in Afghanistan; unprecedented bailouts of the financial, insurance, and automotive industries; a stalled healthcare reform effort; a climate change summit that went nowhere; an aborted terrorist attack; and now a natural disaster in Haiti and an electoral disaster in Massachusetts.

A lot can change in a year. And my Inauguration boots remind me that winters do end.