Absolutely nothing. OK, maybe that is not true. I did find it is very good for watching videos streamed from Netflix. I also enjoyed surfing the Web on it. Using it as an e-reader was a little awkward for me. In all the situations though it was hard to get comfortable. The iPad could be the first new technology that I just don’t get but that students might.
I also struggled with just how one would produce content on the iPad. There are a few apps, such as Brushes, that seem to make great use of the multi-touch, but that list is pretty short when you focus on apps that could be used for education. Katie Stansberry gives a list of a few that she considers to have educational potential. Most of them seem to be geared toward K-12 and not undergrad. Maybe the best way for colleges and universities to use the iPad in their curriculums is to have faculty and students develop apps for the iPad. I think it would be of even greater benefit if the apps they develop were geared toward K-12.
I know Apple is selling them like mad, but I just have to shake my head at institutions giving them to all the incoming first-years. Stanford Medical School is on that list so maybe my former colleague, Joe Benfield, can shed a little light on how Stanford Medical School is using them in the curriculum. I guess for the moment I’d just like to try an understand why these schools think the iPad is important to their curricula. Am I completely off-base?