Blog: What Does the iPad Mean for Career Colleges? Not Much

For months, rumors swirled around Apple’s new tablet computer. It was expected to be the second coming for college students — a tool that would demolish all other Netbooks, e-readers, and especially paper textbooks. But when it actually debuted on January 27th, did the iPad live up to all the hype?

Well, not really. The iPad is a cool device with a visually pleasing interface and all the "wow" factor of the iPhone, but which current device does it effectively replace?

  • Not the Kindle. The LCD screen on the iPad cuts its battery life in half compared to Amazon’s e-reader. Apple will probably eventually replace this screen with an LED, but until they do, Kindle is a less expensive, longer-lasting version of an e-reader.
  • Definitely not the Netbook. Although with a dock/keyboard station, the device could be used as a very basic computer for college students, the iPad doesn’t make it easy to connect to a printer, an external hard drive, or a CD drive. It also has a very limited application system, no camera for video chat capabilities, no Flash capabilities for streaming video, and no multitasking. This means that you can’t have a Word document, your e-mail, your Pandora, and your Safari browser all open at once. And “all at once” is how college students operate.  
  • Textbooks? Possibly.  While the publisher’s CourseSmart e-textbook format is pretty standard, major textbook publishers have struck deals with software companies including ScrollMotion and Inkling to adapt their textbooks to the iPad, and some of the capabilities are pretty slick – static textbook images can be replaced with puzzles to help students learn, and existing textbooks can be peppered with tips, talking text, and interactive quizzes. If the textbook price points are right, you’ll probably see iPad texts hitting the traditional college market pretty soon.

But for career colleges? Probably not yet. Especially for career college students who aren’t generally at liberty to take on luxury expenses, the device just isn’t practical. This first generation iPad is too expensive, too focused on fun and not smooth enough with functional applications.  It can’t take the place of an essential desktop or laptop computer, so students would just be stuck with another expense.

What do you think? Will iPads start popping up in career college classrooms sooner than I expect?

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of