Tag Archives: storage

Does Size Matter: iPad Storage and the Impact of eBooks

7 Jun

This is an update to a post I made last week about how storage on the iPad 2 and the New iPad compare to each other.  This post aims at looking more in depth at the storage issues of the New iPad as students begin to use it in more and more classes particularly with the added space requirements of digital texts.

As schools nationwide look to adopt the iPad as their 1:1 computing device we need to look at how the iPad will support the needs and growth of the student from year to year.  Last week I showed how the iPad 2 and the New iPad compare in a head to head storage match up.  The results from these tests can be seen in that post, however the main point I want to make in this post is about how the new screen resolution, camera and interactive textbooks make the 16 GB iPad significantly too small.  When you take the New iPad and load it up with educational apps, textbooks, and video projects the 16GB version of the New iPad fills up extraordinarily quickly.  After downloading all of the apps, taking some pictures and producing a short video (description and details below)  the New iPad had just 6.8 GB of storage left.

While applications, photos and videos certainly take up a lot of space, one of my biggest concerns is textbook size on top of all of this.  I have included a list of the textbooks available in the iBooks store in the table below.  You can see that the range of textbook sizes vary greatly from 2.79 GB down to 929 MB; but the bottom line is they are all rather large files.

Textbooks Size
Pearson Biology 2.79 GB
Pearson Algebra 1 2.35 GB
McGraw Hill Biology 1.50 GB
McGraw Hill Geometry 1.26 GB
McGraw Hill Physics 1.22 GB
Pearson Environmental Science 934 MB
McGraw Hill Chemistry 929 MB

As students start to use the iPad in more of their classes, a 16GB iPad simply is not going to be big enough.  This test showed that after installing a handful of apps, shooting 6 minutes of video, taking 60 images and intalling one textbook there were only 6.8 GB of space remaining.  Imagine if I had installed two or three books from either the iBook store or the Inkling app (interactive textbook publisher).  My 6.8 GB of available storage for the entire year could be decreased by half or more depending on the textbooks assigned to my class.

Apps Included in the Test

App VPP Size (iTunes)
Remarks $2.49 37MB
Pages $4.99 269MB
Keynote $4.99 327MB
Numbers $4.99 283MB
iMovie $2.49 409MB
WebDAV $1.99 7MB
QRafter $0.00 5.1MB
Voice recorder for iPad $0.49 4.8MB
iBooks $0.00 58MB
Quick Graph $0.00 4.5MB
pCalc Lite Calculator $0.00 9.5MB
Response Ware $0.00 0.6MB
My School:  Gale Reference App $0.00 2.1MB
Video Downloader Pro $1.99 11.8MB
DocScan HD $0.00 3.7MB
Skitch $0.00 10.9MB
GoDocs $2.49 4.9MB
Animation Creator HD $0.99 24.3MB
Explain Everything $1.49 8.6MB
Dropbox $0.00 9.8MB
Inkling $0.00 24.3 MB
SketchBook Express $0.00 32MB

In addition to downloading the above apps I did the following

  1. Downloaded the Pearson Biology Textbook 2.79 GB
  2. Took 60 photos
  3. Took a 1 minute video with the New iPad
  4. Took a 5 minute video  with the New iPad
  5. Created a 5 slide Keynote with pictures taken with the iPad’s camera
  6. Created a pages document with one picture taken with the iPad’s camera
  7. Created a two minute movie in iMovie using the pictures and image from the iPad’s camera.
Below you can see the results on the storage space taken up by just a few small projects.  Imagine what the impact might look like if students had multiple video projects, paper assignments and keynote presentations.
The new iPad:   6.8 GB of storage left after the above tasks.
(Click the pictures for larger images)

Additional information about file size to consider as your school decides on the correct iPad.

iPad 2 The New iPad
Screen Shot File Size 179 KB 510KB
Photo File Size 228 KB 2MB

My point is this:  

Apple continues to suggest at public events that the iPad, their new interactive textbooks and the iBook Author tool are changing the face of education.  They even talk about how they have kept the 16GB iPad 2 available specifically as a low cost option for school districts, but here is the problem; 16GB on either the iPad 2 or the new iPad is not enough storage to allow students to effectively use the iPad across the curriculum.  So here is my proposal,  keep older models of iPads available for school districts but don’t limit them to the 16GB model.  If Apple had the 32 GB iPad 2 for sale to school districts for the same price, $499.00, as the 16GB iPad 3 I bet a lot of school districts might have given that a strong consideration.  Apple needs to work hand in hand with teachers who are using iPads in their classrooms to insure that this significant investment can actually be used as its being advertised to educators, as a cross-curricular tool.

My closing appeal:

Students, teachers, technology specialist, and administrators do not just stand by on the sidelines and say “iPads are great; lets get them in the classroom and buy the cheapest they have.”  Instead, let us engage in research and conversation with other educators and Apple executives to provide a tool for our students that is both awesome and useful long term. Explore the technology options for your district and make sure that what you buy for your school will work, not just in the sort term, but provide a lasting educational tool that actually will change the way students learn.

Let me know what you think:

Written by Wes Molyneaux, a science teacher and technology staff developer at New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL.