OSU to start up iPad initiative

TUAW is reporting that my alma mater, Oklahoma State University, is starting a pilot program to evaluate how iPads can be used in the educational space. Handing out MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads isn’t a new concept, but this is one of the few instances where the use of the devices is being monitored to evaluate its academic value to the student.

…OSU is really interested in how their students will go about using them. The results should be intriguing, not only for the lucky college kids who get to use iPads all semester but also for Apple and for other schools that are formulating plans over how to share and use technology. It certainly seems like having an iPad at college would be helpful in the traditional ways (you could read textbooks or take notes on it), but it’s cool that OSU is thinking about new ways to use it as well, such as apps for tests or connections across local Wi-Fi for networked learning.

The program will start with a mere 125 students among a 20,000-plus student body. The iPad is thought of by many as a potential game-changer for education. So it will be interesting to see what the OSU experiment finds.

Steve Jobs’s Thoughts on Flash

Steve Jobs has published an open letter regarding his thoughts on Flash.  This well-written outline of Apple’s relationship with Adobe lays out why Flash is not on any iPhone OS device.  This sums it up pretty well:

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.  – Steve Jobs

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out how the detail of the letter gives Adobe “little wiggle room” to respond.  Michael Gartenburg (via Daring Fireball) makes the equally good point that Adobe’s only real play here is to respond with a version of Flash that runs favorably in a mobile touch environment.

A lot of talk from the blogs is about how this hinders developer’s choice when developing for the iPhone OS.  This type of commentary drives me crazy.  Developers can choose whether or not to developer for a given platform.  If they don’t like the ground-rules, they can go play somewhere else.  Logic dictates that if Apple drives away developers, fewer apps will be published, which makes the platform less attractive for consumers.  The power of choice is still there.

The “problem” for developers is that the iPhone OS and it’s associated devices are the most sexy from a consumer perspective.  So as a developer, here is your choice:  do you stand on your principles (or lack of ability to evolve as a developer) and miss the market, or do you challenge yourself to learn something new?  In the end, if lack of Flash is why you choose not to create an iPhone OS app or iPhone/iPod/iPad optimized experience in the browser, you probably weren’t committed enough the platform to make a great app in the first place.