It appears that the iPad is ready to open an alternate method of teaching – and that is according to a recent report by the Reed College, who took the magical tablet for a spin at the end last year and were pleasantly surprised with the performance of the iDevice as a potential educational tool.

Reed College is one of a number of educational establishments that test new gadgets to determine whether they are fit for educational purposes. Previously the College had conducted tests on the Kindle DX when the eReader was launched back in 2009. After the completion of the initial program, the Kindle DX was deemed a failure for use in a classroom situation. “But that is not the case with the iPad: where the eReader failed, the iPad excelled.” said the CTO Martin Ringle.

On the positive side the College noted that the iDevice’s responsive and smooth scrolling touchscreen makes it more than adequate to read content in the classroom, and that navigation through passages of text was easy and quick. They also noted that many participating students now prefer to use the iPad for highlighting and annotating text rather than the traditional pen and paper.

However, the tablet is not the ideal educational tool as the tests highlighted some flaws, the most notable of which is the virtual keyboard. This feature is practical for typing short messages but can become a problem when writing at length is required. This can, of course be remedied with an external keyboard, but this does add to the final cost of the product. Problems with syncing and the file system problems are also a down-side feature as the transfer of PDF files through iTunes is slow and cumbersome, and once synced, the documents are difficult to locate on the device – although the use of a third-party application such as ‘Good Reader’ might alleviate this problem.

It seems that schools are open to the idea of using Android and iPad tablets in the classroom, but now pricing becomes a major deciding factor in this market. If Apple can come in with the right price and features then there is a massive incentive for schools to adopt the iDevice in the coming years. With it could come a whole new wave of excuses for late class work – perhaps the creative thinkers amongst us could come up with some suggestions – all in the cause of preparation, of course!!!