Great things come in small sizes …

Or “the best things come in small packages” or whatever the expression is!

Well finally the wait was over to find out about the new iPad mini!  The speculation has seemed fairly solid over the past few months and so the launch of a new device wasn’t clouded in as much mystery as Apple usually creates.  Exciting new versions of the 13” MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini and the iPad with Retina display were unveiled at the October 2012 Apple Event to a very appreciative audience.  Then the iPad mini itself was revealed in its true glory!  I’ll leave others to go on about the in-depth specifications and just share some thoughts.

So why, as educators, should we care?  Well, at RM, we have been talking about the iPad in education for a while now and have been extoling it’s virtues as a revolutionary device for learning and teaching, which I truly believe it can be.  The device empowers learners when utilized by skillful teachers as a tool for learning.  The issue that many schools have is that they try a small number, they show real promise in having that positive impact, but then they naturally want everyone to have their own iPad!  Education pricing for the iPad has been competitive but it still stacks up to be more than some school budgets can stretch to.  Apple have a clear education policy and have given us some fantastic offerings so far: the iPad, the iPod touch, iBooks Author, the iLife and iWork suites and an app store of over 275,000 apps.  Now comes the iPad mini.  The iPad mini fits neatly in between the iPod touch and the iPad (iPad 2 and iPad with Retina display) both in screen size and cost.  But cost should only be one of the considerations.  The iPad, above any other similar device, has the potential to change the classroom of today and tomorrow.  Its functionality as a creative device as well as a tool for consuming information means that it can change the dynamics of a learning environment.  Allowing our students flexibility to choose how they respond to a challenge/problem using such a tool is the reason why we can describe the iPad as empowering and engaging.

Keeping the same resolution as the iPad 2 is a smart move by Apple and one that developers will be relieved about.  The huge number of education apps available on the Apple App Store (that many schools have already invested in) will work exactly as on the full sized iPad.  When Apple released VPP in the UK in October, many of the difficulties of using iPad in schools were solved or at least made more manageable.  There are now several options for managing deployment of the iPad in a school environment, whether you are looking at a class set or a 1:1 implementation.  As an Apple Solution Expert for Education, RM can help you formulate that ideal solution.

Now that the iPad mini is here at such a reasonable price, maybe we can look forward to the migration from our dog eared textbooks or reading books to more exciting electronic versions that allow students to annotate and highlight pages - something that we used to get a detention for!  RM has developed a new way for schools to manage ebooks and reduce the cost of providing these resources to students electronically on whatever device they choose.  RM Books already contains over 1000 free titles and many more that can be rented on a termly or yearly basis or purchased outright.

We also asked teachers about some of the other bug-bears that they have with use of mobile devices in the classroom.  One of the most common was having to remember all the different usernames and passwords to the internet sites and services that they and their students use. So at RM we have designed a solution for education called RM Unify, which takes away this problem by provisioning all users through a simple single sign on process. Meaning they only need to remember one username and one password in order to access all the services they use within education.  Find out more about RM Unify.

Apple's clever tagline says that ‘iPad mini is every inch an iPad’, the specifications certainly indicate that and I can’t wait to get my hands on one to find out!

Categories: In the classroom

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