The University of San Francisco has revealed the results of a six month 2010 iPad study involving 40 faculty members that looked at how teachers could use the device as a tool in the classroom. The result: while many teachers found the device useful, all thought there was room for improvement.
The study asked the participants to call out the iPad's weaknesses, listed below. The original study was done using the first iPad, so I've noted in parenthesis advancements the features of the iPad 2 and iOS 5 have addressed.
- VGA-out issues (the iPad 2 resolved this)
- Lack of a USB port
- Difficulty using the keyboard primarily due to size (iOS 5 introduced a detached/split keyboard)
- Inability to play Flash video
- Lack of a file management system
TabTimes points out that when the teachers were asked what Apple-installed and third-party apps were the most useful in a classroom setting, they chose Safari, Mail, Keynote, iAnnotate, GoodReader, Evernote, Pages, Dropbox, Blackboard Mobile and YouTube.
Interestingly, AllThingsD has reported on a separate research survey by Piper Jaffray that found virtually all educational technology directors surveyed were deploying or getting ready to deploy iPads in the classroom.
For those of you interested in delving into the findings of USF's iPad study, you can find a PDF of the research methods and result here. You can also view a YouTube video with interviews of the participants in the study.