The iPad is like a motorbike
Posted September 29, 2010on:
Over the last few weeks, I have been leaving my MacBook Pro behind in my office to see if my iPad can handle the rigours of meetings and classes.
During meetings I take notes with Evernote or Documents To Go. I show web resources or screenshots when the occasion calls for it. When meetings get unnecessarily tedious, I go for email, Twitter and Facebook updates.
Verdict? You can’t share and edit a Google Doc in Docs to Go in real time, but since the notes are personal, then it’s a non-issue. You need Apple’s special VGA dongle to project to a larger audience, but showing what’s on the iPad screen or passing it around suffices most of the time. Then there’s the anytime-anywhere access which I love because I can be productive even in a non-productive meeting.
For classes, I have experimented with short presentations of PowerPoint or PDFs with the help of 2Screens and I have projected video clips with the iPad’s Video app. 2Screens helps you get over Apple’s limitation of projecting only its approved apps like Photos, Videos, YouTube and the equivalent of the iWorks suite. With 2Screens, you have the added options of showing Web sites, files in your iPad or files in DropBox and Docs to Go. With the PDF in the photo above, you can see previews of all your slides or pages, but the audience sees just the current one.
But the thing I love most is being able to monitor my student teachers’ work (in their wikis and blogs) in class. The iPad is a lot easier to walk around with than a laptop or even a netbook. As my trainees save their work, I get RSS and email updates and I can better facilitate class discussions. As I walk around the class, I can attend to both face-to-face and online questions. (But if I had several iPads, I’d probably mobilize them for educational gaming, treasure-hunt type learning, or service-based learning instead.)
The lack of Flash support is not an issue for me. More sites are supporting HTML5. Maybe I miss collaborative tools like Web-based Prezi and MindMeister, but it might just be a matter of time these tools are supported one way or other. (I know that MindMeister has an app, but they are greedy in asking $7 for it!)
The questions I get asked most often are: “Is it good?” and “Should I get one too?” I always say that this would depend on what you do (or want to do) and expect the iPad to do. If you work with primarily spreadsheets, then give it a pass. Even if you have an external keyboard, it will be frustrating to input numbers. But if you want to do some quick reading or watch a video on the move, then go for it.
To use a vehicular analogy, the iPad is like a motorbike; don’t expect it to function like a car or bus. It is lightweight and it cannot carry too much (although you might be surprised how much it can do). You also need to continually balance (for example, what you might do on a laptop and the slate) and you need to return to basics (like touch). But as a result, you will relook the way you travel and you might enjoy what you discover about yourself and your ride.
So to creative and daring educators who are sitting on the fence, I say buy and try.
Then try and buy: Try to change the way you teach, get the apps you and your students need to learn better (not to teach more); then see if you create buy in. I know that is what I am trying to do…
Disclaimer: I am not paid by Apple or the app makers mentioned in this blog.