The iPad’s “Disruption” Potential for Virtual Learning

All eyes were on Apple this week with the release of the iPad, the new tablet PC. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the iPad will be ideal for watching video, reading newspapers, browsing photos. “It’s so much more intimate than a laptop.”

Chadwick Matlin of wrote an interesting article that focuses on the “disruption potential” of the iPad and how this new device will affect various industries. Since virtual learning such as self-paced e-learning and learning delivered via web conference often takes place on a laptop, I’m wondering what iPad will mean for the world of virtual learning? Right now it’s difficult to tell what the iPad will do to e-learning industry, and any seismic changes to the industry are a long way off for many reasons. First, the iPad does not currently support Flash. Many self-paced e-learning programs are built with Flash and Adobe Connect Pro, a leading web conferencing tool, runs on Flash. It also lacks a webcam and only runs on AT&T’s network, so its web reach is limited right now.

The device is currently marketed as a consumer product, which means that workplace learning programs will not be affected by the iPad for the time being. Right now, a crowd of early adopters is busy trying out this new device and it has a long way to go before becoming mainstream. However, the iPad and similar tablet PCs are definitely devices to keep an eye on. With e-learning courses (mobile learning) and training delivered via web conference (such as WebEx) quickly moving onto iPhones and smartphones – just imagine what that experience would be like on a tablet PC like the iPad.