Reading “The iPad for Academics”

This article, by Inside Higher Ed called ‘The iPad for Academics” is a good read, and followers neatly on from my previous posts.

I want to draw attention to the following statements, but I’m no going to say why; just that they struck a chord with me (either positively or negatively);

“The iPad represents the genuine retailization of academic content.”

“… publishers might object that piracy would be a concern, but honestly: If you’re selling content to universities that license it to tens of thousands of students living in highly-networked dorm rooms, is an app store really going to make the problem worse?”

“A key feature of the retailization of scholarly content is that it be reasonably free of digital rights management — and here academic publishing should learn from the music industry’s failed attempts to sell copy-protected music. The more open and reusable academic content is, the more reasons people will have to buy it. The great thing about PDFs is that, like MP3s, they are not copy-protected.”

“Overall by splitting the difference between dedicated devices and genuine computers, the iPad doesn’t show a lot of promise as a mobile platform for research and teaching. Of course if everyone is always carrying around an iPad already then they might start replacing voice recorders. It’s hard to tell.”

“While I can imagine some innovative pedagogic uses of the device, what academics do is still narrowly defined — and tied to institutional, political, and economic imperatives. Some imagined the Internet would cause us to rethink what it meant for a text to be coherent — and it has, to a certain extent. The academy might be too obdurate to be easily transformable.”

“Ultimately, academics need a world full of devices they can pour information in and out of. The more open and interoperable our new ecology of applications, devices, and content providers are, the more our learning will enrich human life — whether the people selling us our readers, software, and content are Apple, Amazon, or someone else entirely.”

I have also read through the current responses to the article, and there are some choice examples of people on both sides of the iPad and Apple love/hate divide. I recommend taking five minutes or so and scanning through them as there are some valid points.

If you have a iPad (yes, I’m ever so slightly jealous) and have been using it as part of your academic work, then please let me know how you find it, what apps your using, etc.