5 Reasons Why I Want iPad 2 in My Classroom

There has been a good deal of discussion about whether iPad 2 is really that much better than iPad 1. Is it really worth the price if you already have iPad 1? Should schools be purchasing the new iPad or should they buy iPad 1 because the price dropped? Is iPad 2 really that different from iPad 1? Like many educators, I too asked these questions. And then I watched Apple’s iPad 2 Keynote and immediately decided that my answer was yes: I definitely want iPad 2 in my classroom as soon as possible. Here are my top five reasons why:

  1. Video Mirroring: Video mirroring allows iPad 2 users to share what’s on the iPad screen with others on a bigger screen (could be a TV or a projector). Students can see what you see, and see every step of the way. With iPad 1, teachers and presenters ran out to buy iPevo Point 2 View document cameras so that they could share the screen of the iPad with a bigger audience. As much as I love the iPevo cameras, you still have to contend with the camera constantly auto-refocusing and the occasional glare of overhead lights. Video mirroring will be fantastic for teaching, modeling, sharing, and presenting all kinds of content. With video mirroring, a class can make better use of having only one iPad in the room (as many school are currently in that situation). Students with visual impairments can magnify their screen size. Teachers can use an educational app to teach an entire room full of students. Video mirroring takes using the iPad in education to a whole new level.
  2. Two Cameras and FaceTime: iPad 2 has two cameras: one on the front and one on the back. Not only can you now take photos and shoot HD video, you can also connect with others that have iPad 2s, iPhone 4s, Macs, and the new iPod touches by using FaceTime over a Wi-Fi network. This feature alone can help push down our classroom walls and expose our students to a global community of learning. Students can visit people and places from around the world with a tap of their finger. High school students can mentor middle school students without leaving their respective schools; students can participate in class from remote locations; sign language interpreters can be connected with to help sign for hearing impaired students; students can collaborate with other students from around the world. And did I mention that you can shoot photos and HD video?
  3. Content Creation: iPad 2 ends the debate about whether students can do more than just consume content on an iPad. Apple welcomes even more content creation to the iPad 2 with the iMovie and GarageBand apps. Although iMovie isn’t new to iOS devices, it is new to the iPad’s large screen size. Using iMovie, students can now shoot, edit, create, and share movies anywhere and at anytime. GarageBand, a favorite on Macs, turns your iPad into a recording studio. Students can play a collection of digital instruments or record a song or a podcast…right on the iPad. And you can’t forget about using Pages (to create documents), Numbers (to create spreadsheets), and Keynote (to create presentations) and many, many other third-party apps to create even more content.
  4. Size and Durability: I honestly wasn’t sure if the iPad could get any thinner, but it did! And with less width (it is a third thinner), comes less weight (up to 15% to be exact). The iPad was redesigned to be made of only two essential surfaces instead of three, making iPad 2 smaller, lighter, and more comfortable to hold. The unibody engineering can help ease parents’ and educators’ fear of handing this device over to young children or careless students, as the device is stronger than ever.
  5. Speed: I think back to days where I would type in a web address and then leave the computer for twenty minutes while the webpage loaded. Thankfully, those days are gone. Students today expect for technology to be quick and available almost instantly, and, well, I do too. I don’t know a lot about the inside of iOS devices, but according to Apple’s website: Two powerful cores in one A5 chip mean iPad can do twice the work at once. You’ll notice the difference when you’re surfing the web, watching movies, making FaceTime video calls, gaming, and going from app to app to app. Multitasking is smoother, apps load faster, and everything just works better.And one might think that all this new power might affect the battery life, but iPad 2 stays strong with 10 hours of battery life.

Although I will certainly be the first to admit that there are still quite a few features I would like to see on future iPads, I know that iPad 2 will be a phenomenal addition to my classroom.

What do you think?

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  1. Anonymous

    Hi Megan,

    I agree that the video mirroring function will be a great addition to the iPad 2 and a big improvement from the use of an iPevo or other document camera. One thing I would like to see is the ability to have it indicate when you tap on something on the screen. I can currently do that on my iPad 1 (with a few enhancements) and it works great when I use it for demos. However, that is a small feature that can be added through a future update.

    As far as the cameras and FaceTime go: I think VoiceOver needs to have a buddy list like other instant messenger apps to show you who is available for chat (just like iChat on the Mac does). The inability to see who is online is what has kept me from taking advantage of it more on my iPod touch. It is pretty much a guessing game.

    And speaking of the iPod touch, I’ve read the cameras on the new iPad are similar in specs to those on the iPod touch. If so, be prepared to be disappointed with the stills. On the iPod touch 4th gen, you can only really take decent pictures outside on a sunny day. Anything inside is grainy and not even usable for Facebook. And I’m visually impaired, so if I notice the noise it must be there. It will be interesting to see if the photos are good enough to use in scheduling and communication apps for students with special needs. Many of those apps come with a library of symbols, but the cameras could allow more personalization by letting the teacher or care provider include images from the student’s day to day life.

    The video will probably be fairly good and sufficient for quick posting to YouTube or Facebook. While I have a separate Kodak Zi8 for when I need better video at 1080p and an external mic, I like the convenience of being able to post the video right away.

    When I think about the iPad and other mobile devices, I am reminded of a quote by photographer Chase Jarvis: “the best camera is the one you have with you.” What he means is that the specs don’t matter, what really matters is having something with you that can capture the moment. I think the same can be said of learning today. The strength of the iPad for people with disabilities is that it has a great battery life, is light, and relatively sturdy. For us, the best learning tool “is the one that’s always with you” and the iPad (whether 1 or 2) fits that need perfectly.

    Keep up the great work.

    • Meg Wilson

      I absolutely love your recommendations for the iPad! What wonderful improvements they would be for students of all abilities. And I certainly agree that ALL of the cameras on iOS devices have some quality to be desired, but like you, I appreciate just having a camera to capture moments. I do hope that the quality on iPad 2’s cameras are decent enough to use for educational purposes of all sorts!

    • Meg Wilson

      Thank you for contributing to this discussion with your ideas and kind words… you have fantastic thoughts about the iPad!

  2. Elearningleader

    I think the iPad 2 is great. However as an original iPad owner, and another one on the way for my three year old son, the thinness of the new iPad glass is concerning. Therefore, the ” more disable” argument is not as you suggest in my opinion.

      • Meg Wilson

        I’m so happy that you shared your thoughts… you make a very valid point as the glass is significantly thinner on iPad 2. It is my *hope* that Apple did not compromise durability on one side of the iPad just to improve the other side of the iPad (i.e. a stronger backside hopefully does not mean a weaker frontside). I’m sure in due time we will know more about whether the percentage of people with shattered iPad 2 glass is the same or higher/lower than the original iPad. I guess I should rename Reason #4 to “Size and Hopefully Better Durability”!

    • Meg Wilson

      Hi Dan! I’m so glad you found it useful! I wish you the best of luck as you begin your journey… :0)

  3. Hey Meg.

    I am looking at this strictly as an iPad 1 owner who was considering an upgrade to iPad 2.

    As an iPad 1 owner, these reasons are not deeply compelling to me to rush out and get the iPad 2. Apple does promote the thinness, the weight and speed as reasons to rush out and buy, but those are not things I have struggled with (1.5 pounds –> 1.33 pounds /.5 inches –> .33 inches / A4 processor –> A5 dual processor) in my usage.

    Apple touts the COVER as a selling point on their website. That is definitely not a reason to implore me to run out and drop $500.

    The cameras are OK, but are not the greatest quality cameras that Apple COULD have used. I really think it will look foolish sitting in the park recording video of my kids with an iPad 2. iMovie is a good app for on the go video creation, but I can do that from my iPhone (which I would be more likely to shoot spur-of-the-moment video).

    Garageband works fabulous on my iPad 1.

    The display is the same as the iPad 1. No upgrade there. The retina display would have been a great feature, but would have bumped cost, I am sure.

    Battery life is the same.

    Too many “same” I see here. Not a lot of WOW. Features that I could do without on the iPad 2 seem to abound. This is not to say 6 months down the road I would not upgrade, but there is really no reason for me to run out and upgrade at launch.

    With that said, if I was going to do a serious iPad initiative at this point, I would go with the iPad 2. If it was a pilot for a class, the iPad 1 would be a perfect pilot product for the price (whoa, check out the alliteration on that!).

  4. Marvelous8319

    Hi Meg,
    I teach 3rd grade and I use my personal iPad 2 all the time via mirroring on my projector.  I honestly can’t remember what it was like without it and the students love it.  The iPad also allows them to be more interactive with the lessons, which is something else you might want to consider in your proposal! 
    Best of luck to you!