At first glance, history and technology seem like contrasting subjects: one is about studying the past, while the other calls for a strong focus on the future. However, even as Apple prepares to release various new educational tools for iPad with the upcoming iOS 9.3, the tablet has already long become a great device for learning about history.
The iPad already has much practical use for history teachers
Much of the iPad’s appeal for this purpose is captured by Apple’s previous profiling of Sophie Post, a fourth grade teacher of Tudor history at the London-located Falkner House School. In 2014, she dubbed the iPad “so much more than just a textbook or just a notepad for students—it’s a powerful educational tool”, and spoke of her positive experiences of making her own iBooks textbooks and iTunes U courses.
However, many history educators don’t even need to make their own materials – there’s a huge choice of apps that can provide material for them. Post enthuses about History:Maps of World, which is packed with interactive maps ideal for pointing out geopolitical and geographic changes. We also like Baron Ferdinand’s Challenge, which pupils in the 9-11 age bracket can use during visits to the British Museum to better understand the Waddesdon Bequest, the museum’s Renaissance collection donated by Baron Ferdinand Rothschild.
But why only time-travel in the classroom?
Of course, many apps can also easily be used for private and personal, rather than school-based, historical study. For example, iBooks, which comes ready-to-use on all devices running iOS 9, is a great trove of both academic and fiction books on history – as is Amazon’s Kindle app. Additionally, iTunes U gives ready access to lectures, videos, books and courses from many of the world’s leading educational institutions.
Sometimes, though, just looking at text and imagery on a screen isn’t quite sufficient for capturing the feeling of actually living in the historical period under study. Sometimes, only literally visiting historical structures and sites can succeed in bridging that gap. That’s where a good, informative travel guide app can help – and one recently-released one we’d recommend is Louis Vuitton City Guide, which we reviewed in November.
An even more exciting future for historical education
With the release of iOS 9.3, history teachers will find even greater incentive to hand out not print textbooks, but instead iPads. For example, students will be able to share iPads by logging in with separate user accounts, while the new Classroom app will help teachers to guide these students through their lessons and monitor their progress.
It’s not obvious when the finished, public version of iOS 9.3 will arrive. However, as iOS 9.3 is now seemingly late in the beta testing phase, mid-March seems most probable.