This article by Frederic Lardinois is a brief that describes how at least two universities plans to furnish all new students with an iPad and/or a small Macbook.
I applaud these institutions for their forward thinking, but I hope this move will provide publishers with the impetus for producing content that is actually designed to take advantage of the new tools. Lardinois points out that publishers would be wise to leverage the interactivity that is possible with a tool like the iPad. I would like to go further and say that it’s up to educational professionals of all stripes to take action and be creators of content that actually serves the purpose of education.
Books, for the most part, do what they are supposed to do. As one student surveyed for this article states, the interaction that is possible with a paper book is exactly what he wants in an educational resource. There is no reason to move to an electronic tool when the hard-copy works so well. What smart publishers are doing with their educational content is finding where books are lacking (see the video below) and producing content that is interactive in a way that a print resource cannot be.
As educational professionals, we should be looking at ways that our content is working well and ways that it is not. The only way to do that is to be constantly aware of the objectives we are trying to achieve. With that always in our minds, it will be clearer where new tools like the Kindle or the iPad are best employed.