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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.