I have tried two different textbook versions on the iPad. One was a “generic” scanned pdf, from CourseSmart, that had minimal functionality and low quality images. The other was designed for the iPad and combines two different textbooks (a dense textbook and a case studies text) with numerous other functionalities, most of which I am just starting to explore. This second eBook, from Inkling, seems very promising, and I plan to try it in my Immunology class next fall. Both of these books were from textbook publishers working with the companies named above to make their books available in an iPad format. Neither format was as intuitive to read as books I’ve read on iBooks or Kindle.
I also want to include some comments on what doesn’t work for me using the iPad. I haven’t been successful using the note taking apps. The biggest drawback for me is the stylus- it is not nearly fine enough for my attempted uses. I would love to figure out a way to make an iPad work as a laboratory notebook. I think this would require a function that prevents you from making changes in your “lab notebook” (after maybe a 3-5 minute grace period) and a way to scan gels, instrument readouts, etc. (which the camera will probably do quite well) into your notebook. It’s an interesting challenge.
I would be very interested in trying iPads in an upper level class. I can see students using them for reading the text with new connections, reading scientific papers with links to the supplemental information, using it as a lab notebook, and even peer review of each other’s work. There are many scientific apps that I haven’t had time to explore, that could be done if an entire class was working on the same project- perhaps compiling our own Knowledge Base for Immunology. The challenge is how to do this, as I don’t feel I can require students to purchase a $300 iPad in addition to the textbook.