Monday, February 14, 2011

iPad scores high points in Reed College report

Apple’s iPad received glowing marks for its performance in college classrooms from the eagerly anticipated Reed College evaluation, according to a new report shared with Fast Company. Excerpts follow:
The iPad’s smooth interface kept up with the lighting-quick pace of college lectures, helping it to overcome the very same gauntlet that killed the Kindle’s hope of education dominance a year earlier. Most importantly, the report predicts an explosion of opportunity for both Apple software developers and tablet competitors.

After extensive student interviews throughout the Fall 2010 semester, "The bottom line feeling was that the Amazon Kindle DX was not adequate for use in a higher education curricular setting," Chief Technology Officer Martin Ringle tells Fast Company. "The bottom line for the iPad was exactly the opposite."

The most impressive iPad feature was also the simplest: a smooth scrolling touchscreen. "The quick response time of the touch screen was highly praised and seemed to be extremely beneficial in class discussions because it allowed students to navigate rapidly between texts to reach specific passages,” notes the report. In contrast, the Kindle’s joystick navigation was exceedingly slow , and "the delay broke into the natural rhythm of the discussion and therefore was unacceptable," says Ringle.
Apple’s new favorite child is not without its flaws. The virtual keyboard is a pain for composing anything beyond short notes. The nonexistent file system makes finding important documents difficult and sharing across applications nearly impossible. Finally, managing a large number of readings in PDF format becomes a major time-suck. Syncing PDFs via iTunes was found to be "needlessly complicated," emailing marked-up versions back to oneself was "prohibitively time-consuming," and even the cloud-based storage, Dropbox, "failed to work seamlessly with PDF reading/annotating applications."

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