Fraser Speirs, the software developer behind FlickrExport, Viewfinder, and a number of other products, has been visiting and talking with schools who are interested in using Apple's iPad to help create a better learning environment, but aren't sure how. Speirs, who teaches computing at Cedars School of Excellence, has found that most schools simply replace old PC labs with iPad labs and aren't using the tablet the way it was meant to be used.

I speak to a lot of schools who envisage the iPad in the roles that PCs formerly occupied. The "laptop trolley" becomes an "iPad trolley". The "checkout netbooks" become the "checkout iPads". The "PC lab" becomes the "iPad lab".

That's not how the iPad is designed and, it seems to me, the iPad is an extremely uncomfortable fit for those roles defined in an earlier era. The iPad is not another "thing" to have in your classroom in the way that you might buy one thermometer for every seat in your science lab. You can't easily share an iPad the way you might have pupils share a digital camera.

The iPad is an intensely personal device. In its design intent it is, truly, much more like a "big iPhone" than a "small laptop". The iPad isn't something you pass around. It's not really designed to be a "resource" that many people take advantage of. It's designed to be owned, configured to your taste, invested in and curated.

The idea that you can use an iPad without leaving a data footprint on the device is not outright wrong, but such an approach to this device will either lead to confusion or a lot of time taken up with "restoring" iPads back to known-clean backup images. Hardware sharing is a solved problem on Macs and PCs with multiple-user operating systems. iOS, for better or for worse, simply isn't that kind of OS.

Read the full story at Fraser Speirs.

H/T Daring Fireball.

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