Strength: Provide a Baseline Technology
When collaborating on projects, Google Drive and apps allow for easy communication and data sharing. Too often, we encounter students who are not comfortable using drive and other productivity/content creation-geared applications. Sometimes, collaborators seem resistant because they are not yet comfortable.
Although these applications are available for desktop platforms, the mobility of the iPad apps allows the user to bring the technology, and the ability to create content into any collaborative or meeting space. The iPads are slim, portable, and a pleasure to use. With workflow adapting to such a portable, multitask oriented utility, we will change what it means to do group work.
If every student possessed an iPad, everyone would be exposed to the applications and have a baseline vocabulary associated with the technology. Time will no longer be spent on getting everyone acquainted with the technology.
When every student can operate with utilities that improve workflow and collaboration, communities will be quicker to innovate and produce work.
Let the information flow.
Weakness: Can’t Do Everything a Laptop Can
- No USB port – The lack of a USB port on the iPad Air means it is not possible to use external hard drives and other external devices like keyboards or microphones that use USB.
- Limited amount of storage space – A laptop or desktop computer is able to use external hard drives or add RAM for memory storage but an iPad is not due to the lack of a USB port.
- No external keyboard – Although it is possible to purchase a bluetooth keyboard for the iPad air, it only comes equipped with a touchscreen keyboard which can slow down productivity.
- No disk drive for CDs and DVDs
- Desktop Apps – There are many desktop apps that are too powerful to run on an iPad. Applications like Microsoft Office and Final Cut Pro won’t run on iPads and tablets. There are scaled down versions of apps like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft OneNote.
- File formats – Laptops are able to display or play almost any file type if you have the right software/program. iPads are not able to play every file type, video files must be in .mp4 format before they are able to play. A solution to this problem would be converting the file format on the iPad. Also, all transferring of files to the iPad has to be done via iTunes.
- Screen Resolution – The iPad Air Retina display renders at 2048 by 1536 resolution. The screen is 9.7 inches, measured diagonally. In comparison, Apple’s 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display has a higher resoltuion of 2560 x 1600 pixels. The 15.4-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display has an even higher resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels.
Opportunity: Reduce in Paper (SBU’s Eco-Footprint)
iPads for everybody offers an excellent opportunity for the Stony Brook community to reduce it’s eco-print by using less paper. By using free .pdf reader apps that are available, students can upload reading assignments, class notes, and e-books to their iPads which means they don’t need to print out long readings or buy expensive books – which all use paper. Not only would SBU reduce its eco-print, they would also reduce costs; perhaps part of the cost of getting the iPad could be offset by reducing expenditures on paper. Even though there might be a learning curve for students as they get used to accessing, reading, and taking notes on .pdfs using their iPads, the benefits of using less paper is well worth the effort. In addition to the immediate ecological benefits, and possible reductions in cost, Stony Brook University has the opportunity to stand out as a leader in higher education by using new technology to improve both the quality of education and the quality of life on campus for students, teachers, staff, and the environment.
Threat: Potential for New Forms of Academic Dishonesty
When looking at potential threats concerning the introduction of iPads to a university setting, qualms that professors may have immediately comes to mind: the potential for new forms of academic dishonesty (in the classroom). With the internet at a student’s fingertips, they could possibly look up their answers on Google, or be chatting with their friends for help while in class. Yes, most students now have smartphones, but if a university provides iPads, it would be the understood authorization that the iPads are allowed in class. However, a simple re-focusing of the coursework model could fix that. Grading could come in part from class discussion through Google Docs (which generally works better than discussion portals within classroom management sites such as Blackboard or Moodle) in which each comment is digitally signed (by color-coding or other symbol). By everyone claiming their own work, and allowing others to comment and help edit, final products are usually better. Tests would still be “technology free,” meaning that students would not have easy access to communicate with others.
It comes down to what the purpose of the classroom and higher education construct is. Do we lead students to be smarter than everyone else and perpetuate a model of “I have better grades [read: am better, smarter] than you?” Or do we instill a CoP framework that encourages community learning toward an end-goal of contributing to something that is larger than all of us? Collaborative learning is a far cry from academic dishonesty—everyone still gets credit for what they do.
This post itself represents four unique styles of writing that came together in a collaboration on Google Docs. In that file, you can see exactly what each person wrote, and the comments that were left to help come up with a final project.