How I spent my two weeks with an iPad

Tomorrow we’re back to school, and I’ll have to return the iPad I borrowed over the break. It has been a fun two weeks and I’ll be sorry to give up the little monster, but not too sorry. I was determined not to spend any money on apps, books, or anything (since the iPad is going to be wiped clean upon return) so that limited what I could, but not a lot. I downloaded over 30 apps, mostly entertainment – games, newspapers, TV and movie sites, TED, and some free educational apps. I also got to play with the portfolio cases and covers that we’ll be putting on all the iPads after they return, and to check out an apple wireless keyboard (which I”m typing on now, and really like.)

Some early impressions: it is great having an iPad lying around for instant access to the internet and e-mail. I loved not having to boot up a computer, or wait for a computer, to look something up quickly – so when Allegra got pepper burns on New Years Eve from some habeneros, WebMD.com was there to help. When I wanted to look up a movie showtime, check an airline flight, see if Jeremy was right about genetics of domesticated animals or whatever, it was quick, easy, and convenient to grab the iPad. I can see this impacting classrooms in subtle ways, and certainly impacting lives of people who are used to always having an iPad-type device at their fingertips. The ability to download an app quickly is also compelling – even though over the break I read about several lawsuits involving apps that track users personal information, location, and browsing and send them along to businesses (It’s not as “free” as it seems.)

I was also surprised at how quickly the “wow” wore off – and the iPad became another electronic device that is easy to take for granted. I didn’t carry it around much (although if I had activated the 3G account so I could use it anywhere, I may have – especially for the great map features), but I did bring it if I knew I would have time to kill anywhere …. it is an awesome device for killing time.

I also watched TV and movies on it – even right in front of my home TV and computer – because it is so easy to get commercial free shows (I used my son’s NetFlix account).

I’m very interested to see these after they’re loaded up with educational apps and tools, and especially to see them used in classrooms – as a replacement for textbooks, quick internet access, e-mail, etc. the iPad is awesome. As a serious tool for work, I’m not sure if I’d rather carry an iPad and a keyboard or my tablet. I also did not experiment much with cloud computing on the iPad – which would allow me to create word, excel, and powerpoint files on the iPad.

To be truly great, the iPad needs to be on the internet. The cost of a fully networkable iPad (both WIFI and Cell access) is over $700 plus data access charges…. I know that this cost will drop dramatically in the next few years, but for now it’s too much for me. It’s not hard to imagine a time when devices like this will be everywhere… and the benefit for students will be very real.

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4 Responses

  1. Oh… and I forgot to mention that I synched a couple folders of pictures from my computer to the iPad using Itunes… mostly to see how it worked. I was surprised that all the pictures went into one folder: there may be a way to organize photos in folders, but I found it so much fun scrolling, clicking, resizing, and viewing pictures that I never bothered to look into folders. In general, I LOVE the way you can resize text and images and move around the iPad screen… with rapidly failing eyes like mine it is a tremendous feature.

  2. As leery as I am about blogging, here I go. I expected to be totally smitten by the iPad from the first moment but actually found it more gadget than tool. But I have come to see great features. The instant-on is a wonder. The size for convenience is terrific. Not being an educator, I can’t usefully address application In the classroom, but I have enjoyed playing the games. And for my work as webmaster it would be a huge help in making corrections on the fly. My first thought was that students might spend more time with the gadget than paying attention to the teacher, but the LMS librarians pointed out that the iPad is less an obstruction than a computer monitor, which makes sense. Watching how they are incorporated will be fascinating. The New York Times article linked from this site is also persuasive about classroom use. As with all things, time will tell; meanwhile, this is pretty cool!

  3. I enjoyed becoming familiar with this technology. I will be headed to the physical education convention in March, and I’m guessing that there will be presentations about using the IPad in PE, so I may need to check one out again in the future. I hope that Apple comes out with a photo/video version of the IPad…the things I could do with instant video on this type of screen (as opposed to the small flip screen or having to plug in and download) would be really amazing in a teaching or coaching situation. Many thanks for this opportunity. It’s a pretty amazing piece of technology.

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