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Australia Education Handhelds Media (Apple) Apple

Australian Schools Go iPad-Crazy 293

An anonymous reader writes "Looks like it's not just Apple fanboys that are going wild for the iPad: in Australia, virtually every state education department is trialling the tablet in schools — and some schools are even trialling it without the official support of their department. One university in Adelaide has even abolished textbooks for first year science students and is allocating free iPads to first year students instead. It will be interesting to see what happens when the inevitable wave of Android tablets hits over the next six months."
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Australian Schools Go iPad-Crazy

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  • No. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Smekarn ( 1623831 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:30AM (#33660116)
    "It will be interesting to see what happens when the inevitable wave of Android tablets hits over the next six months."

    No.. Not really.
  • Waste of Money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <[tim.almond] [at] []> on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:31AM (#33660120) Homepage
    It's just some adults having fun and burning money in the process. If it's about text books, why not give them Kindles which cost a lot less? Oh, because they're not as sexy and cool as an iPad.
    • Re:Waste of Money (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:58AM (#33660264)
      It's just some adults having fun and burning money in the process. If it's about text books, why not give them Kindles which cost a lot less? Oh, because they're not as sexy and cool as an iPad.

      Because Kindles (and any e-ink based device) royally suck for non-linear texts (i.e., reference books, textbooks, etc). And this comes from someone who absolutely loves his Kindle for reading novels. I would never consider using it for something where I need to constantly flip back and forth between pages, or look things up in charts and tables.

      Use the best tool for the job, and at the moment, the iPad is a better tool for this type of usage scenario.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Joce640k ( 829181 )

        Android tablets will be here before you know it (if they aren't already). Android seems a much better choice than Apple - functionality is about the same but you get competing hardware vs. Apple lock-in.

        Expect Android tablets to be much cheaper than Apple by the next school year.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Android tablets will be here before you know it (if they aren't already). Android seems a much better choice than Apple - functionality is about the same but you get competing hardware vs. Apple lock-in.

          Expect Android tablets to be much cheaper than Apple by the next school year.

          Android tablets already are here (and have been here for several months). By all accounts, the ones that are available are abysmal. That's not to say that they won't get better. But for the time being, they're not even a serio
    • Someone has too much money in their hands. Here in Europe they're bitching the whole time about deficit and cutting expenses but, at least in Portugal, they're giving crappy netbooks to studends. Guess what. The company that makes these belongs to a good chap of our Prime Minister. For those, there is no deficit or expense cuts.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The company that actually makes them is Intel, because the Magalhães are just a rebranding of the second edition of the Classmate PC [].
        The Portuguese company just puts it in a rebranded box and receives major profits.

    • Re:Waste of Money (Score:5, Informative)

      by kaiidth ( 104315 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:26AM (#33660378)

      This may be related to Australia's recent funding opportunities.

      The Australian government's reaction to the current world economic situation has been to throw a series of large bucketloads of money in the direction of research, development and infrastructural work. [] Australia decided it could spend and 'innovate' its way through the next few years. There are some restrictions on the use of this plentiful funding, notably that it all has to go to Australian institutions. As is usually the case with this sort of funding it is also strictly short-term.

      I would imagine that a lot of people have found themselves with a few k left in a budget and a need to zero the budget in the very near future, have asked themselves, "now what can we do that sounds sexy and means we get to play with cute shiny hardware?" and they've all come up with the same (incredibly unimaginative, sorry guys) solution.

      The e-book research area is currently choked with iiiiiiPPPPaaaaaaddd zombies. It would be depressing if it weren't - no, wait, what am I saying? It's depressing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by anarche ( 1525323 )

        Sort of.

        Capt. Kevin's "Economic Stimulus Package" - which was very successful at insuring us against the GFC - was more aimed at getting money spending than where it was spent.

        My old primary school (that my parent still live down the road from) now have two lovely, big, identical assembly areas - coz the Gubberment didn't bother to ask if they needed a second one, but just built it.

        And while the funding "had to go to Australian institutions" - where else could it go? But as soon as it gets to Hardly Normal,

      • by MikeFM ( 12491 )

        Wow, somebody understands why we're in this economic mess and is doing something to try to fix it? Yeah that research and development stuff is all bullshit anyway. Getting kids excited by technology that actually works - idiots don't they know it's more fun to take a garbage device and give it a dipshit tweak that makes it worse but gives it your own personal picture of a naked anime chick on every button!? We know that real economic health comes from finding loopholes and playing tricks with numbers. Maybe

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Rogerborg ( 306625 )

          For the record, I disagree with your point, but will defend to the death your right to angry-old-geezer-slap those damn kids these days.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Have you ever used a kindle? they utterly suck for technical or non linear books. the Sony ereaders as well are crap for such uses.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 )

      If it's about text books

      If it's about textbook, follow the Japanese model. They give students short paperback texts, 80-120 pages, that lasts 6 to 8 week in their subject instead of a heavy, intimidating tome that contains way too much information for the scope of the class. While we're at it, a state or nation can probably hire someone to write these books, someone to illustrate, and someone to edit it. Get feedback from teachers, and make necessary changes the next time around. (Instead of aesthetic,

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        In short: they need to liberate content rather than throw an expensive viewer into the mix.

        Of course the fanboys don't care about cost or effectiveness.

        The rest of us look at these things and contemplate the need to pay for everything we've been getting from the public library.

        Even some kids are smart enough to figure this part out if you show them an e-book reader.

    • Color and video (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MikeMo ( 521697 )
      It's because textbooks really *do* require color. Color is essential when conveying certain complex concepts, let alone the need for pictures.

      I have dreamed for years about how rich a learning experience could be if textbooks had motion and video. For example, imagine how easy it would be to explain the difference between frequency and phase if you could have a couple of sine waves on a graph that change as one drags a slider back and forth? How would you even do that on a Kindle?

      Then there's the whole a

    • If it's about text books, why not give them Kindles which cost a lot less? Oh, because they're not as sexy and cool as an iPad.

      That relies on the premise that Kindles make good text books. They are good as books but not text books. For one, they lack color. While they you can have images, the images are basic graphics. Also they are good for books if you are reading linearly. Going back and forth is harder.

  • When the price of [used] textbooks at Uni bookstore for two semesters/quarters equal the price of a tablet computer [which does considerably more than the textbooks], can you really blame them?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      But you've still got to buy the books as ebooks anyway.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Actually you only have to buy one copy of each.... crack the DRM.... now all the students have the books.

        Or stop being idiot school administrators and use some of the great open education texts already available in ebook format. []

    • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:38AM (#33660168) Homepage

      So ... will the iBooks be free? Will they be available second hand?

      I'm pretty sure the book publishers will see this as a way to make a money-grab.

      • by lachlan76 ( 770870 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:23AM (#33660364)
        In the case of Adelaide the release stated that they were to produce a set of open-source textbooks.
        • That'll take five years and a lot of money to do. What happens in the meantime?

          • The details of the program at Adelaide are here []. While as a EEE student I cannot speak for the sciences beyond first-year physics, most lecturers already provide sufficiently-detailed notes that textbooks are not necessary. I expect that, at least to start with, it will just be a matter of loading existing PDFs/slides/whatever that were either bought from the copy-shop or handed out during lectures.
      • Money grab indeed (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zerofoo ( 262795 )

        Book publisher money grabs are not new. I remember having to buy the same calculus book 3 times in college - Why?

        The publisher moved around the chapters and slightly altered some of the problems. Never mind that calculus hasn't changed in hundreds of years.

        These "new editions" instantly made the old books worth zero. If you took a chance on an old used textbook, you ran the risk of not being able to do the assigned work.

        Book publishers are money grabbing scum, and they don't give a damn if poor students

  • Graduates from 2010-11 will be the year for employers to avoid.

    All click, and no content. Spend the year playing games in the back of the class.

    • When I was going to school, some people with laptops were playing games in class, too. Does this mean employers should avoid graduates from the classes of 2002-2008 as well?

  • by telomerewhythere ( 1493937 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:34AM (#33660144)

    Whether it be ipad or an Android tablet, I would love to see a interactive tablet for students that shows g or f=ma or the basis of trig in animated form. i.e. an animated triangle that shows what sin cos and tan really are... Oh, and chemical reactions. Those could be awesome for someone interested.

    Also a way to read to young children where they see the word as they hear it. Although parent(s) reading to their kids would be better in my mind...

    Hopefully this doesn't turn into a distracting of students or virtual experiments that don't react like in real life.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrHanky ( 141717 )

      Yeah, I remember that from the 80s as well, back when it was called video. It didn't work particularly well then, either, but it was popular among students as they didn't need to concentrate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 )

      The biggest advantage to digital textbooks is yes, interaction. For example, when a math book shortcuts things to save space, yet, could be animated in digital form to show how operations are done on tables and such.

      Although, a physical book is very nice to hold, to flip through, which you can't easily do with digital ones.

      The iPads are what, under 10 inches diagonal? Not nearly the size of certain books, which can make it a bit more tricky to read. Sometimes a big page conveys things differently, especiall

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      F=M*A can be used by terrorists to create ballistic weapons. Chemistry can be used by terrorist to create bombs. Terrorist info is banned from i-pads.
      • by srussia ( 884021 )

        F=M*A can be used by terrorists to create ballistic weapons.

        Just imagine what they could do with E=mc^2 (exclamation mark omitted to prevent factorial.., but then again imagine what they could do with !)!

      • And history can be used to criticize the government for making bad judgement calls that were already proven failures by previous administrations or other countries.
    • by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) * on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:46AM (#33660210) Journal

      I'm sure an interactive tablet might be helpful, but when I was young and CD-ROMs were the new rage, my parents bought me a similar type of interactive science software with all sorts of interactive animations and stuff. One or two animations is fine, but you'll be surprised how much time watching an animation or interactive applet will take up while learning. You're dependent on the content creator's pace to learn when you use animations and interactive applets, whereas if you just read the thing, you're dependent on your own.

      • by telomerewhythere ( 1493937 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:00AM (#33660276)

        I was thinking more to use multitouch as a way to let student have a degree of input. If it was responsive (quick) and was robust enough for more than just a few pre-programmed 'movies' then it might help students who wanted to explore knowledge. Imagine three fingers used to describe the vertices of a triangle. And then moving one point and watching the angles and sin cos and tan change. (That is what I was thinking)

        Or dragging an H2O molecule into a Fe surface and watch the reaction.

        I can dream right? The pessimist in me says it will probably be a way for a lazy/distracted/addicted to Internet teacher to not have to work. And the laggards will play and the driven students will program games or such.

    • by lkcl ( 517947 ) <> on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:07AM (#33660314) Homepage

      whilst "interactive" may be an "awesome" teacher, interactING is an even better one.

      the reasons why OLPC are good apply just as well in the first world as they do to the third, but teachers and governments got snotty about the shit colour and features of the XO-1.

      you wouldn't think it, given the price of the ippad, but the cost of hardware is dropping like a stone and is far less than the cost of text books which can be out-of-date immediately.

      showing someone f=ma on a graph is all very well, but who's going to write the graph program?

      i demonstrated kepler's laws and the laws of physics and gravitation to myself by writing an orbital space game on a BBC micro in 1985.

      putting a shit ippad or an anduroyyd tablet in front of kids is about as good as slapping a TV in front of them and saying "there! isn't technology great!"

      you can hear the sigh of relief a million miles away from the teacher as they think "thank christ for that - now i don't actually have to think how to keep this little fuckers occupied".

      so... mmmm, yeah. i'm really impressed with putting proprietary hardware/software in front of kids (that's remote-controlled by apple who might decide to "censor" certain types of "teaching" material) especially the kind of hardware/software that requires reverse-engineering to get the crap off it and regain control of it.

      • See above []

        And yes, proprietary is limiting.

        Really, students will make what they want to of school, right?

        I longed to learn more about teh science and maths and didn't like that my teachers (by 10th grade) didn't know what they were teaching. (Not really their fault, one was a biology major just beginning to teach physics)

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      You just want a speak and trig...

      Robotic voice:" What is the cosine of the hypotenuse?..... that is incorrect!"

  • Define "abolishing" (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:42AM (#33660192)
    The summary says "One university in Adelaide has even abolished textbooks for first year science students and is allocating free iPads to first year students instead." yet the article says "The University of Adelaide jumped into the handheld computer revolution headfirst last week when it was announced last week that students who enroll in science degrees will receive a free iPads." Getting free iPads is completely different than abolishing textbooks. The two are not mutually exclusive.
  • Students and Apple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Andy Smith ( 55346 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @06:44AM (#33660204)

    I hope the students never need any help from Apple. []

    • by Raenex ( 947668 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @08:27AM (#33660690)

      If the email is actually true, I'm with Jobs. The sense of entitlement in her email just pisses me off:

      "I was incredibly surprised to find Apple's Media Relations Department to be absolutely unresponsive to my questions, which (as I had repeatedly told them in voicemail after voicemail) are vital to my academic grade as a student journalist."

      Why should they be held hostage over her grade? It's also a ridiculous argument. The professor is going to downgrade her because Apple didn't respond to her question?

    • Her journalism professor had assigned her a story on a new initiative at her college to buy iPads for all incoming students. She wanted to get a quote from Apple about the use of iPads in academic settings.

      It's been a while since I've done any journalism but I think a quote from Apple would be a bonus but not essential to her assignment. It seems to me that the student should be more focused on a quote from her college rather than Apple. They are the "who" in the story. It would be the same if a university had a new Dell laptop initiative. The story is that the university has the initiative, not so much the source of the laptops, Dell.

    • The way I see it, why should Apple PR be expected to invest their time in helping this girl with an assignment? Issuing statements requires commitment and non-trival time since it can be quoted, all for something that will be read by a single person. Should Apple reply to every student in her class or just her? When I was in university, we were told that directly contacting the organisation in question will result in a fail, to prevent scores of students simultaneously asking questions and loosing face for

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Arkham ( 10779 )

      I hope the students never need any help from Apple. []

      Right, because needing tech support from Apple and harassing the CEO for a quote are the same thing.

  • Seriously, I go to Adelaide Uni, and I have friends at UniSA and Flinders, and I haven't heard of anyone trailing it or banning physical textbooks. This would be fucking awesome, and I've been championing this for years. If I could get all of my textbooks on some eReader (iPad or elsewise), especially if it was an open standard, I could actually carry my books with me everywhere, and it would be a lot easier to study with. As it stands, textbooks are heavy, cumbersome, bad to navigate/search, and extremely

    • Well now I feel silly. Apparently it's Adelaide Uni, but only the science department. That really fucks me off, since I could really do with this.

    • But what if the e-books still cost you 1200 AUD per year, and they are locked to your device, while your device is locked to you and you can't sell it? Sounds great for the publishers.

      • I'm pretty sure I'd find a way to pirate still. Also, it says a free iPad. So the net difference would be that I gain portability, searchability, and similar.

        • by vadim_t ( 324782 )


          No, it's very much paid for, either by your tuition, or by your taxes (not sure how things work there)

          • That's fine. It's not direct, and would be on my government loan then. I wish the textbooks were on my government loan too. But there are problems with that, but I'd prefer not to have to struggle with the costs now, when I've little to no income.

  • by distantbody ( 852269 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:24AM (#33660366) Journal
    Whenever stories like this crop up (notebooks in, paper out; turn everything into a game), the future of the next generation looks to be dumber, fatter, lazier, more demanding, less-attentive, and more commodity-like; loath-able yet not by their own fault. Basically: less fit to survive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:32AM (#33660406)

    I work at multiple schools in Australia as the IT Guy and there are two major differences.

    One of my schools has purchased one and is genuinely looking to use it for a worthy purpose but then our statewide firewall has a proxy so anything besides Safari isn't compatible with it.

    My other school suffers from shiny object syndrome/Apple fanboy syndrome and we seem to be buying them with every cent we have available. It also doesn't help that the Principal is saying that flash is coming to the iPad, and that we will be using all our online flash educational websites using the iPad in the future and that we will no longer have to buy regular computers. I do try to educate them but its like telling them there is no santa and they are in denial. I also frequently walk in on classes full of students playing racing and shooting games when they are meant to be learning on them.

    The only time I've seen iPads do something decent is at Special Schools where the special apps and the touch pad work very well. Besides that I think people are generally wasting their money.

    I think there is a proper space in schools for something more open like an Android tablet, the iPad is just annoying and is just a constant "Can we do X task that we do on our PC's on the iPad because its cool and hip"

    • by Wingsy ( 761354 )
      Haven't you guys worn out the "iPad is cool and hip but doesn't do anything useful" argument by now? It would seem that since so many businesses and schools are seriously considering incorporating the iPad, that ALL of them can't be suffering from the shiny object syndrome. There must be a significant percentage of those people who have looked at it and the alternatives in a logical and sound manner and have concluded that the iPad just might be the way to go. Just because it doesn't jive with the way you w
      • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @08:36AM (#33660740)

        I don't agree with you at all.

        The iPad was supposed to be the death of netbooks. And yet a netbook can do everything an Ipad can do - and far more.

        Lets face it, the only reason anyone buys it because it looks cool. I admit that the idea of touching stuff to get it to work appeals to be - but there is absolutely no other way that an iPad (or any tablet) is better than a netbook

    • I work for one of the companies that does the *large* proxies for education.

      Until iOS 4 even the Apple apps don't use proxies correctly, with iOS 4 apps *can*, but pretty much *don't* use them.

      The big problem with this is people buying tech and just expecting it to work. Sure this *should* be the case, but it's not, and people seem to have grasped that about PC OS', why not other devices that try to use the Internet.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @08:54AM (#33660872)

      Although I'm an AC and this post will likely be buried, here I go anyway:

      The author Theodore Roszak wrote a very interesting book on the subject of "Shiny Object Syndrome" in his book, "The cult of Information: A Neo-Luddite Treatise on High-Tech, Artificial Intelligence, and the True Art of Thinking" (yes, that's the full title). It is a very, very interesting read.

      One of the subjects Roszak covers is the trend in the 80's to say that "computers = education." The push to get every kid in front of a computer in the hopes that it will magically make education "better" did not work. By and large, the phenomenon was driven by corporations with something to sell, and not backed up by any research. When research was done, it showed the opposite...that having "technology" handy didn't increase test scores or make education "better."

      So this nonsensical rush to put Apple's latest shiny object into every child's hands is likely doomed to failure. At least in the 80's they were trying to push educational software with it...what educational software is being promoted on the iPad? The damned app store? If they wanted to go the ebook route there are far cheaper alternatives that are not filled with iDistractions like the iPad is.

      Recently, the idiotic premiere of Ontario made the headlines by saying he thinks every kid should have a cell phone in class, again using the "it helps learning" line of BS. Naturally this ignores a) the HUGE cost of wireless in Canada b) the fact that lower income families will be shut out and c) there is ZERO evidence that having a shiny e-toy in every kid's hands will help anything other than the government's bottom line from the taxes they'll pull in.

      I think Roszak needs to update his book for the modern Apple-crazed generation.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      I'm just glad at least one school system in the world is apparently rolling in extra cash.
  • It's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:36AM (#33660430)

    Nice to know that the Australian government is wealthy enough to afford overpriced hardware and makes its purchasing decisions based on marketing and not, say, system specifications.

    • Nice to know that the Australian government is wealthy enough to afford overpriced hardware and makes its purchasing decisions based on marketing and not, say, system specifications.

      I had a friend who derided my decision to buy an iPhone because it was, according to him, way overpriced for the specs. He bought some phone that had better specs than the iPhone but then was forced to run windows mobile on it which he hated. Oh he could install android on it, but then the phone was unable to _make phonecalls_.

      Hardware specs are worth absolutely nothing without good software.

      • We're talking about the iPad here. The equivalent of the iPad is a netbook.

        Are you suggesting that the iPad has better software support than a netbook?

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @08:43AM (#33660788) Homepage Journal
    This is a shoot-from-the-hip effort. Abolishing textbooks for Kindle books would be great; abolishing textbooks to move to Kindle today would be a disaster due to lack of content. We're not prepared for the iPad to be worthless; they'll all find that electronic devices (not iPad, ALL electronic devices) are worthless by this attempt, and go back to just books. There's no consideration of content availability etc and maturity of the platform, much less consideration of what platform or what goals you have. This is mainly an "OOH SHINY" reaction.
  • Historically, Apple has done a good job of getting their products in schools. I still remember how annoyed I was at having to learn MS-DOS after using nothing but Apples in school during the late 80's. My attitude then was, and still is to a lesser extent, why teach me on this device when the people doing actual work and making money are much more likely to be using something else?

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.