New iPad (aka iPad 3): What’s New, What’s Necessary, What’s Pedagogically Useful?

New iPad (aka iPad 3): What’s New, What’s Necessary, What’s Pedagogically Useful? March 7, 2012

The iPad 3 has been mentioned on surprisingly few blogs I read regularly or subscribe to. When the iPad 2 came out, there was more buzz among educators. Perhaps it is simply the fact that whether educators could afford to upgrade to iPad 2 (or use university funds to get one), or could not afford to upgrade to the then new, now old iPad 2, none of us can afford to get an iPad 3.

But presumably if we felt that the improvements were pedagogically essential, or crucial to our scholarship, or both, then we might feel differently.

The inclusion of a better camera is a plus – but for the purpose of taking photos so that I can blog while traveling with students, better quality photos doesn’t matter so much, since photos in a blog post are rarely of very high resolution, and uploading high definition images or video would be expensive.

The retina display – i.e. a display whose pixels are so small the human eye supposedly doesn’t discern any pixelation – sounds wonderful, but at best a luxury. It may make viewing a video on the relatively small iPad screen that little bit more pleasant, but it won’t enhance my enjoyment of Words With Friends in any obvious way.

None of the features of the iPad 3 that I have seen mentioned on the Apple web site or elsewhere seem essential, much less pedagogically or professionally essential.

Am I missing something? The iPad 3 is better, but is it better in the way that a larger flat screen TV is – nice if one can afford it, but something one can easily live without?

I’m still waiting for full-fledged word processing software for the iPad that will allow one to create footnotes, at the very least.  Has such a thing appeared, and I’ve missed it? Or has everyone just agreed that the use of footnotes will be phased out to accommodate the technology academics now work with?

At any rate, the main reason I felt it essential to mention the iPad 3 is explained most clearly in an important article, to which I will simply link.

And of course, with the solar flare activity headed our way, none of our iPads may work anyway, come tomorrow.

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  • I’ve read that there is a way to create footnotes but I haven’t actually tried it – you need to have a Pages doc with a footnote already, then you copy and paste it.

    I’m eager to find out if the new appletv supports enterprise wifi. If so, that would be the most educationally significant new apple product.

  • I do not think there is a strong pedagogical argument for going from iPad 2 to the 3rd Generation iPad.  However, I don’t think even Apple expects people to upgrade every year.  A lot of people waited until iPad 2 to get their first tablet, and many people (like me) skipped iPad 2 and will get this new one.  The biggest pedagogical benefit to 2/3 over the 1st generation is the interface mirroring.  I am excited about displaying Accordance or Bible Reader through the projector, something I can’t do with my first generation iPad.

  • It seems like I am the other way round: I was underwhelmed by the iPad 2 and totally love the new iPad that was announced yesterday. This is because I was hoping for a Retina display on the iPad since the iPhone 4 first showed it off.

    I think the Retina display is the killer feature that finally makes the iPad a great tool for academics. For watching movies the resolution of the original iPad and iPad 2 was always okay, but reading small text such as on PDFs or books on the first and second gen iPad was always very blurry and tiring.

    I am discussing the Retina display (and two ways how you can demo it for yourself) in more detail on my blog on iPad in academia. Check it out if you like:

  • Jon Hendry

    I’m thinking the display would be really nice for detailed maps or diagrams.

    It’ll also make a pretty sweet wireless external touchscreen monitor for a computer, using something like AirDisplay.

    I ordered one on Wednesday. My excuse is that I’m a professional iPad developer, and that I can give my iPad 2 to my mom & dad. ;^)

  • curtisperry

    The retina display is incredibly pedagogically useful. It reduces eye strain and allows for the preview of PDFs, websites, EPUB books and maps, etc., without any need to constantly zooming in and out to navigate sections of legible text. I suspect it requires a first-hand experience to believe this assertion.

    Additionally, the far superior rear camera allows for legitimate OCR uses as well as document scanning. On top of this is the dictation feature, which fits more in the “luxury” category you mentioned but expands the ways students learn (i.e. some sentences need to be read out loud to expose their strengths/ weaknesses).
    All of this said, people who have bought an ipad 2 ought to hold on to their investments. Generally speaking, I think it retains its usefulness and doesn’t require upgrading so long as the battery remains sufficient (degrading over time) and the software is still compatible (eventually, older hardware gets phased out. Apple controls this well and the hardware lasts 2-3 years of software updates).To summarize: current owners shouldn’t be in any rush to upgrade, but the new ipad/ ipad 3 does present some enormous benefits to the education market as explained above.Pages for ipad does support footnotes – no copy/paste tricks required. I do agree, however, that there is much left to be desired in regarding it as a complete digital writing solution. I’m thinking of things such as setting to APA/MLA/Chicago format or Track Changes. I think this situation will be ameliorated in time. For the time being, I see the ipad as an excellent drafting device, with final formatting and review left to a desktop or laptop.Being in tune with tech news, I suspect Microsoft Office will be available on ipad within the next year.