iPad Goes to the Head of the Class
Unfortunately, the iPad is based on the operating system of the iPhone and iPod Touch so that it can’t run full Mac OSX applications. On top of its eBook abilities, the pad can play videos, although not Flash clips at this point. It can work with a lot of interactive software that makes good use of the pad’s touch screen and video abilities. In the long run, look for textbook powerhouses, like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12 and Pearson Education to convert their products to iPad ebooks.
For now, here’re my favorites for the first iPad apps that are ready for the classroom.
Pasco’s SPARKvue software now runs on the iPad so that science classrooms can use the inexpensive pad instead of more expensive desktop or notebook PCs. On top of connecting directly with the iPad’s built-in acceleraometer, the software lets the pad work with a variety of Pasco’s Pasport probes, including temperature, pH and force. You’ll need to have the Pasport AirLink Bluetooth interface to get it to work. The best part is that it’s a free-bee download from the iTunes site.
Meanwhile, School Zone Publishing has an early-learning classroom math app that makes the most of the interactivity inherent in the iPad. The On-Track Time, Money & Fractions program sells for $10 and is aimed at 1st and 2nd graders. Kids can move coins into and out of a digital bank with their fingers and manipulate the hands of a clock to help with time-telling. Look for two other classroom iPad apps as well.
If your science class is exploring the intricacies of the periodic table, I can think of no better way to do it than with Theodore Gray’s Elements app. It costs $14, is available for download and sums up the properties and history of the elements from Argon to Zirconium. There’s even a cool opening animation sequence with a silly periodic table song.
Need calculators but there’s no room in the budget or on the kids’ desks for one more gadget. The iPad and the PCalc Lite app lets you use its touch surface as a calculator interface for doing everything from simple operations to square roots and trig functions. It works just as well horizontally as vertically, and it’s free.