March 19, 2012

Apple's New iPad: A Nursing Textbook Replacement Device?

After a long day waiting for the FedEx truck I have trying out the new third generation iPad (or New iPad) from Apple. I have been a big fan of the first iPad that I have been using for nearly two years. As much as I enjoyed it I found that reading books from the iBooks app or Amazon Kindle app was a struggle. The first generation iPad is heavier and, like the iPad 2, has half the screen resolution of the newest iPad. This meant that using it as e-reader was a challenge after a few dozen pages. I found it hard to get used to the weight and the slight fuzziness of the fonts grew tiresome.

With the third generation iPad the lighter weight and crisp display make reading a pleasure. There are still issues with glare in very bright environments but the overall experience is a big improvement. I found myself able to read much longer without eye fatigue. Text is now as sharp as the Kindle and other e-ink style readers but with full color and the versatility of a laptop computer.

For nursing educators I think this new iPad would be an acceptable substitute for a paper textbook. This is the first time I have ever thought that. The increased clarity means that texts can have richer content and smaller text while still being legible and useful.

Of course the next step is up to the publishers. They will need to direct energies to exploring the best way to design texts for iPad use. Apple has already created a textbook store in its iBooks Store. These books are currently aimed at high schools students but I suggest you take a look at the free Biology text they offer. It shows off the capabilities of the iPad to do more than display text. It includes 3D models and videos embedded in the text. Just imagine what nursing faculty could do with such a tool.

March 7, 2012

Apple's New iPad: What it means to nursing education

Apple has announced the third generation iPad which offers some implications for nurse educators. This blog has addressed the advantages and possibilities of the iPad before but there is one new feature that changes its utility in education: Resolution. The new iPad has a resolution near that of the iPhone 4/4S called a Retina Display. What this means is that the iPad now has a readability much closer to the sharpness of the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers but with the versatility of a PC. Despite speculation that this generation would be called iPad HD it is simply called iPad. Confusingly, the old iPad is still iPad 2.

For educators this level of resolution brings the day that paper nursing textbooks can be replaced with electronic versions. The monochrome Kindle-type reader cannot be seriously considered as textbook replacements due to their lack of color, video, and audio capability. The new iPad will allow books to appear as clear as paper but with the portability of an e-reader and the versatility of a laptop computer. I look forward to seeing how nursing textbooks will look on this screen. The other step will be to incorporate high resolution video into texts.

Other cool features of the new iPad are new 4G-LTE support for high speed data connections when out of Wi-Fi, a processor that runs 4X faster than the original iPad, voice dictation whenever the keyboard is displayed, and an improved camera, all at the old price for an iPad 2 starting a $499 (up to $829 for a 64GB 4G-LTE version). The iPad 2 will still be available but is now $100 cheaper.

I will be ordering one as soon as the Apple Store goes back on line. I will report on it soon after it arrives. Rumors are that it should be delivered around March 16th.