2-17-10: The iPad is a generational shift from the laptop computer to the handheld computer and will directly impact online continuing education courses. Mostly, the use of a laptop requires the user to be in an upright seated position whereas the iPad sports enhanced mobility similar to that of smart phones. The iPad allows users to shift from semi-mobile laptop computing to highly mobile handheld device computing thus opening up new possibilities to easily study continuing education courses on subways, at bus stops, at a park, in vehicle passenger seats, while waiting in a line, etc….
The iPad will increase mobile online continuing education usage far greater than other eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader Touch. The Kindle text readout is a form of eInk that is visible in daylight without backlighting and has extremely long battery life. The iPad features only up to 10 hours of battery time and does not have the eInk advantages in daylight. However, sharper text resolution and improved ergonomics are major reasons for the inevitable success of the iPad in the eReader market.
Online continuing education programs are provided in several ways including the eBook format which is often purchased online then downloaded in the form of Adobe PDF files. The iPad supports high definition, full color text with images. This enhances courses delivered in the PDF format over the black and white readout of the Kindle. The iPad’s combination of color text, photos, and video allows for a greater diversity of course content and layout thereby making a more user friendly experience for learners.
Online continuing education courses are also delivered through streaming media and downloadable video files, often in Apple’s Quicktime format. The Kindle and several other eReaders will falter in comparison to the iPad’s 3G and Wifi ability to deliver streaming video content. More than this, the iPad has an intuitive touch screen display allowing users to flip through eBook content in much the same way as turning the pages in a book. The iPad brings the tactile experience of opening and flipping through a book to the end user. A major factor in the adoption of the iPad into the continuing education marketplace is familiarity. The touch screen hand gestures used by the Macintosh computer mousepad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices are employed in iPad navigation. Millions of end users are already familiar with the ergonomics of Apple touch-screen hand gestures thereby making the cross-grade from the laptop to the iPad an intuitive process.
More speculative is the likability factor of the iPad’s handheld usability. Apple’s intention is to have the iPad become as comfortable as holding a pad of paper, leafing through a newspaper, or reading a book. It is likely that the comfort level for end users will reach this goal based on the reasonable size, weight, and thinness of the iPad. More than this, the iPad is compatible with many existing online content delivery systems such that specialized programming and development is unnecessary. This makes the iPad an out-of-the-box educational solution for both end users and content providers. Moreover, it is probable that the popularity of the iPad will encourage publishers to provide more textbook titles in eBook format.
The iPad requires no additional programming for educational providers using most learning management systems (LMSs). An LMS is the server side software used to host online schools and universities. LMSs allow students to register for courses, download course materials, take quizzes, receive certificates of completion, view grades, interact with other students and faculty, and view streaming video and media content. The LMSs of providers such as the Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMI) and Lynda.com are compatible with the Apple Safari internet browser. Currently, the Safari browser functions on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Windows computers, and Mac computers. Learners at HealthCMI and Lynda.com will be right at home with the iPad and the downloadable materials and streaming media content will behave exactly the same way on the iPad as on desktop and laptop computers.
The iPad can act as a virtual stack of books or as a streaming media portal for learners. Online educational environments will move beyond the laptop generation and find its way into the handheld environment. In other words, mobile usage can move from sitting to standing and moving. This puts the iPad in the same range of flexibility offered by books and newspapers and also makes access to continuing education online as ubiquitous as a Wifi or 3G connection to the internet.
Learn more about continuing education online at HealthCMI by clicking Nursing Continuing Education.