Wednesday, 14 January 2015 16:15

iPads and education - a winning combination for people - and Apple Featured


Apple has always been strong in education, but with its iPads and incredible library of apps, has an educational experience for today’s children that was, in my youth, but a sci-fi dream.

When I was a young lad in year 3, in 1983, I remember our class finally getting computers - the Apple II, if not the IIe (which was released in January that year).

Of course, this was a time when I had already been using computers for almost half a decade - since 1979, when my father had the foresight to buy me an Exidy Sorcerer from Dick Smith Electronics.

Today’s kids can now enjoy an educational experience that was just a sci-fi dream - ultra lightweight tablets with full multitouch controls and rich high definition graphics that are an entire universe away from the green screen interface of old.

You have plenty of choices, too - Windows devices that are 2-in-1s, tablets that run Windows desktop software while being in the iPad price range, Google Chromebooks that promise maintenance-free computing (as do iPads), and of course, iPads themselves, which have become very popular educational devices.

Indeed, there is an ongoing battle for the educational dollar, not just for the money from schools, but the money from parents, as seen in my previous article, ‘Microsoft pushes Windows devices for back-to-school tech decisions’.

Microsoft's decision to publicise its report and its back-to-school campaign reminded me I had received some background information from Apple on iPads in Education late last year, which I meant to publish as this article before Christmas but hadn't - so, here it is now. 

While Microsoft has chosen to promote the range of devices it offers at all price points, Apple has chosen to promote the educational apps available for the iPad.

It’s up to you, dear reader, to decide which is the better strategy when it comes to convincing you to go one way, or the other.

While there is a huge range of Windows-powered devices on the market to tempt you, Apple is unsurprisingly promoting its iPad Air 2 and the smaller iPad mini 3 as its best-in-class (pun, oddly, not originally intended, but it is now) devices for your kids to carry around.

Of course you can get a MacBook for your kids, too, even though Microsoft promotes its excellent Surface Pro 3 as both ultrabook and tablet in one, although with Microsoft’s tablet app range still vastly smaller than that available for iPads.

Here’s just a tiny, tiny slice of the educational apps available for iPad in various age groups:

iPad Apps Ages 5 and Under

Endless Reader
This app introduces "sight words", the most commonly used words in school, library, and children's books. Kids need to recognise these words by sight in order to achieve reading fluency. Each word features an interactive word puzzle with letters that come alive, and then a sentence puzzle with words that become what they describe.

DRAWNIMAL helps kids to learn the alphabet and learn to draw. It lets kids expand their iPad by using simple tools like pen and paper. DRAWNIMAL motivates kids to draw around the device and encourages them to think outside of the box.

Pepi Tree
Pepi Tree is an educational game where children explore tree-dwelling animals and their habits in a fun way. The application has an educational background focusing on a tree as an eco-system or - using simpler words - a home for different animals.

iPad Apps Ages 6 - 8

Star Walk 2
Featured in iTunes Best of 2014. Star Walk 2 is an exquisite stargazing tool that combines astronomical data with premium technology to deliver an effortless journey through thousands of stars, comets, and constellations. All you have to do is point your iPad at the sky.

The Human Body
Explore a working model of the body. Every part is animated and interactive: the heart beats, guts gurgle, lungs breathe, the skin feels, and eyes see.

MSO Learn
MSO Learn offers interactive audio-visual exploration of an orchestra, featuring the different instrumental families, individual instruments and the musicians who play them.

iPad Apps Ages 9 -11

Quick Maths+
Quick Maths+ takes the maths challenge to the next level and brings some fun, new surprises along the way. With a focus on self-improvement, Quick Maths+ encourages the development of mental arithmetic skills as players race the clock to improve their score and earn stars to unlock exciting new avatars.

With Duolingo, you learn a language completely free, without ads or hidden charges. You have fun while you learn, leveling up and competing with friends. Learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and English.

BrainPOP Featured Movie
Learn something new everyday. Watch a different animated BrainPOP movie every day, then test your new knowledge with an interactive quiz.

iPad Apps High School

Elevate - Brain Training
Featured in iTunes Best of 2014. Elevate is a brain training program designed to improve focus, speaking skills, processing speed, memory, maths skills, and more. Each person is provided with his or her own personalised training program that adjusts over time to maximize results.

The Elements
The Elements is not just a reference app, it is a rich and engaging love story of the periodic table, told in words and pictures, and allowing you to experience the beauty and fascination of the building blocks of our universe in a way you've never seen before.

The Homework App
Never forget your homework with The Homework App. Add, view and complete your homework the easy way. With The Homework App you can colour code your subjects, see your tasks on a daily, monthly or yearly basis, and add your teacher’s details so you can stay in the loop.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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