iPads in education

What a headline from Talking Points Memo: Apple iPad Mini May Cause Problems For Education, McGraw Hill Exec Says. The interview is a doozy, but this whining from McGraw Hill senior vice president Vineet Madan got me:

“If I were a teacher who had spent the last pennies of his or her budget buying new iPads for students a few months ago, I don’t know if I’d be too happy waking up and finding out that there’s a new iPad with a completely different connector cable now.”

“If you’re operating in a classroom that has iPads, now if you want to upgrade or replace a device, you’re going to have to maintain multiple chargers.”

So let me get this straight: They use their budget on iPads, and then find more money to later upgrade the devices, and their concern is the connector cables?

Sorry, but why the hell wouldn’t they be happy? They have iPads. Teachers want them because they are incredible educational tools. Do you really think teachers are going to complain about a few connector cables? 1 Someone needs to explain to him the right cable comes with the iPad when you buy it. Do you really think teachers are going to complain when they have iPads to begin with? They don’t care what generation the iPad is. 2 They just want tools that can make a difference. And what a difference an iPad can make in so many fields, especially the sciences and mathematics.

My high school in Connecticut issued laptops to every student. (It was a magnet school with a focus on technology and international studies.) Each grade, 6 through 12, had a different model, which was replaced every few years. That means different power cords, batteries, and spare parts. This is not something to complain about. I’m grateful I had this much access to technology growing up, and I’m ecstatic that my one-day children will be immersed even more. From 1999 – 2006, I went through four laptops. You know how many textbooks — McGraw Hill or otherwise — I was able to access on them? None. That is something to complain about.

We should hardly be surprised that a textbook company is trying to temper Apple’s influence with this kind of drama. Many phone companies have lost some control of their domain to Apple. Textbook companies are next.


  1. And aside from that, who hasn’t juggled multiple chargers? Phones only began to gravitate to micro USB a few years ago. Then there’s cables for portable hard drives, bluetooth devices… I have a bag of old BlackBerry chargers I’ll never be able to use. Man, that was silly — I should have stayed with my BlackBerry Bold and saved myself the trouble.

    It’s also not like Apple is going to change their connector again anytime soon. The 30-pin connectors long overstayed their welcome and Lightning is clearly built to last.

  2. My friend Andrew Spittle said this post reminded him of Harry Marks quoting a few tech writers throwing a tantrum over their third-generation iPad being out of date. Read to the end.

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Andrew Nacin

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9 thoughts on “iPads in education”

  1. Isn’t this type of hardware recycled (i.e. sold to a clearing house) every 1-2 years anyway? The new dock connectors will be phased in very quickly.

    It seems like a text book manufacturer shouldn’t be too quick to spurn this tech. They could find all sorts of ways to make this work for them right now beyond selling electronic licenses for the print work they’re already selling.

    Imagine an iPad app that recognizes the page you’re on in a textbook (via camera) and provides supplemental material.

  2. The people that are mad about a new connector are the ones that have 30 pin connectors built into their cars, not teachers who are using iPads in their classrooms. And I’m not sure how many people are trying to dock their iPad in their car… seems like more of a phone thing.

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  5. Sure that we are still a few years ago, the computer is not at home at all times, it’s a giant step into the future. in a few years are likely to play in the sandbox so that our children and ourselves, but we have played with the commodere64 laugh.

  6. I think it is a time to upgrade technology with classes as well with a new year a new version of device should be a part of educational necessity as are more books and iPad’s or other tablets will play important role to carve a knowledge in better and advanced fields!

  7. Clearly different connectors is a big issue now that iPads have removed the issue of needing to carrying around loads of text books of different sizes all day long to use them for 10 minutes in one class.

    This guy needs to get some perspective.

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