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Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how iPads operate..
WiFi or 3G?
For schools the answer to this is easy - WiFi is readily available in schools (or should be) and allowing students internet access through the school's proxy servers keeps administrators happy. For school owned iPads managing multiple 3G accounts would be a nightmare. For student managed iPads, WiFi is still the best option. If there is no wireless network in the home then the iPad will connect to a mobile modem which is a very price effective alternative to inserting a 3G sim card.
Is an 16Gb iPad enough?
An iPad is an iPad and they all have identical functionality, apart from Wifi vs 3G, the only difference between the models is their storage capacity. Schools have limited budgets and because the file size of the apps is generally quite small, 8Gb has been enough for most uses. However the introduction of interactive textbooks may change this as these are around 1Gb each. For student owned devices 32Gb may be better but for schools wanting as many devices as they can afford the 16GB may still be a good option. How big a fridge do you buy?
In November 2011 Adobe announced that it would discontinue Flash for all mobile devices and instead concentrate on their AIR product which does work on iPads. Below is my original post on the Flash issue for iPads:
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Apple and Adobe have different viewpoints on the reason for this. Whoever you choose to believe the bottom line is that Flash does not work on an iPad. The important issue is does that detract from the educational value of the iPad? Losing access to low level Flash games is no great loss as they usually have very marginal educational value. Many web 2 sites rely on Flash and the inability to access them is an issue. However whilst Flash ruled the animated internet roost for many years it is now being surpassed by the move to HTML 5. Apple, Google and Microsoft are all behind this move as is the web development industry. Adobe themselves recently released Edge which creates web animation in HTML 5. So it appears that HTML 5 is the future - and it runs on an iPad.
Does it print?
The answer is yes . . . but with limitations. There are several solutions to this. Firstly, perhaps the real question should the one that has been asked for many years - do you really need to print? A small number of wifi printers will accept print jobs straight from the iPad. Files can be send from the iPad to the cloud or directly to a printer connected computer and printed from there. Three are also third party Apps that support wireless printing to a larger range of printers.
Where's the USB?
This is one of the first questions asked but after using an iPad it is also one of the least missed features. The iPad is designed for the cloud, sharing and storing material to online sources. Back in 1998 people complained when Apple dumped floppy discs in favour of a strange new USB thing - same scenario. The cloud is coming and the iPad is already there. Files can be transferred wirelessly with apps like Dropbox and Air Sharing or manually transferred via iTunes when connected to the host computer. In many respects the iPad is itself a big USB stick as it connects to a computer to transfer files but can also do so wirelessly.
Does it have to be locked to iTunes?
Yes, it can be jailbroken but the disadvantages from doing this make it highly not recommended for schools. Being linked to a single iTunes account is actually a good thing as it enables class sets of iPads to be synchronised for sharing photos, ePub creations, movies created, etc. The iTunes Store is like a Librarian, filtering and (usually) listing the better quality Apps. It is a good market place, allowing users to post reviews of the Apps which helps purchasing decisions.
Do the Apps work through School proxies?
In most cases yes - good developers will respond to feedback and several popular apps that originally had issues with proxy setting were fixed through a later update. Dropbox is a good example of this.
Can I Control an iPad from an IWB?
An iPad will display through a projector (or via an Apple TV) to a screen or IWB. You (currently) cannot operate the iPad interactively from the IWB. To make a computer interact with an IWB you load a set of drivers on your computer which makes the connection. At present no IWB manufacturer has drivers for an iPad. Also required is a physical connection through a USB cable which the iPad also does not have.
However, in the (near??) future this would be possible if the IWB Manufacturer wrote a set of iPad drivers which allowed a connection either wirelessly or via bluetooth. This is not beyond the realms of current technology. First IWB company to do so is on a winner.
One of the great benefits of the iPad is the large community of users that is constantly pushing the boundaries and solving issues that arise. So known problems can be addressed not only by Apple through IOS updates but by App developers through their own products. This results in a dynamic relationship that can only benefit the user.
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