Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The iPad2 learning curve

After a long weekend with my new gadget, the iPad2, given to me for use by my institution as part of our Quality Enhancement Plan, I have a few basic comments to share.

  • First, this is an incredibly useful tool for educators at all levels. The iPad2 can easily foster increased student-faculty interaction and add layers of learning and understanding to our course content. This includes the seemingly endless "apps" that can be used for just about any topic or discipline in the world. 
    • I have educational apps for my public speaking course including content, how-to guides and videos, demonstrations, and even a speech timer. 
    • I have our Learning Management System (LMS) mobile version installed for free and make great use of it already.
    • My Personal Learning Network (PLN) is already enhanced. 
  • Second, there are some areas that might prove unsettling for the new user. 
    • As someone who has never owned an "i"-anything, the apps and iTunes process can be a bit daunting to a new user. I didn't want to put in my personal credit card information for an institutional device and struggled with the "ownership" of apps if the device is given to another professor or reclaimed by ITC. Overall, this was MINOR, but it is worth noting for others who might be in the same situation. Of course, I don't like the need to purchase apps and searched for "free" versions of whatever I needed/desired, so this can be overcome. 
    • Some disciplines seem to require costlier apps, so be aware and consider a general search before embarking. 
    • Touch screens. UGH. I am not a huge fan of touch screens, but the keyboard is something that you can easily get used to, however, it is also easy to have typos. I encourage the new user to read, re-read, and then "send/submit" their work.
  • Third, it can help organize your personal and professional life.
    • I am uber-organized, but it has been on a paper calendar (which I love). I tried the calendar feature and imported my Google Task List. I put away the hard-copy paper calendar less than three minutes later. 
    • No more sticky notes...yes indeed, 'there's an app for that.' The notepad is a convenient place to store everything I was scribbling down and putting as sticky notes on my paper calendar. 
    • Increased focus. The little red dot noting a task is not yet accomplished sure snaps your mind back in place as you plod through your day. Making the electronic check mark is (unexpectedly) JUST as rewarding as crossing the item off of my day planner list. 
  • Unintended and unforeseen benefits:
    • As a non-skating official for Roller Derby (and lover of the sport), I was pleased to see there are programs and apps for our sport. This was exciting. 
    • As an avid practitioner of yoga, the apps for practicing yoga while on the go/traveling will be put to great use. 
    • Health and news items are available for free and easily keep one up to date during a busy work day. 
    • Increased productivity: I can easily multi-task and work with students -- responding faster and more fully since I can easily hop into the LMS, answer the emails, or respond to the IM. 
  • Unintended and unforeseen drawbacks:
    • It will take up more time than you think...so set boundaries and learn to use the work-side of your iPad (or other tablet) effectively when at work. 
    • Wireless connection has been spotty on our campus. Though my laptop connects, the iPad is slower and more particular about connecting--but once connected it is FAST. That means that the 3G network may be put to use more than the wireless which could cost the institution (or the individual).
    • The screen is not as easy to read as my e-reader (Nook). It does have a glare, so be aware of this when working with bright lights or in the sunlight. 
    • "Flash" doesn't work well with Safari on the iPad2...non-flash content works fine.
    • The apps you want may have a price. Do your homework and explore what is required and what is just desired. I suggest asking others. I hope to receive a lot more feedback about the perfect apps for higher education.
Overall, I really like the iPad2. It is functional, fast, and fairly easy to pick up (even for the non-"i"-product folks like myself). I am eager to share my weekend of exploration with others in our Quality Enhancement Plan tomorrow and show them some of the opportunities students will have with apps and study aides.

I look forward to learning more and encourage readers to share their pros/cons, their tips, tricks, and favorite apps for the college classroom. 

Don't forget, you can "like" Communication and Higher Education Blog on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CommHigherEdBlog

No comments:

Post a Comment