iPad Test Drive Impressions

Don't Touch My iPad
(Our boy actually fell asleep clutching his “loaner”)

Our school recently purchased a classroom set of iPads, and I was offered the chance to take one home on loan over the break. This post reflects my impressions of that experience…

First impressions: Pros

+ There’s an app for everything!
+ Installing those apps is ridiculously easy
+ Dragon Speak has come a long way since the last time I played with it
+ Aweditorium seems like a great way to discover new music
+ the iPad’s touch-based interface is fun and intuitive (I don’t have an iPhone, so it’s all new to me)

First impresssions: Cons

– There’s an app for everything! (I’m feeling swamped by all the choices)
– The touch screen is constantly smudged
– It’s hard to wrest it out of our kid’s grasp
– Printing seems like it might be a hassle (of course this could be a good thing, if we’re trying to be mindful about printing)
– I miss the haptic feedback of a real keyboard (although of course someone has already solved that problem for me, for “just” another $100 or so)

Further thoughts:

The iPad was introduced in April of this year; by July there were 10,000 iPad “apps” available for download. There are now over 325,000.

Similarly, there are thousands of online applications designed to help folks harness the affordances of the internet to move beyond consuming to creating and sharing. (See http://zoom.it/llz2 for a sampling.)

So how does a tool like an iPad fit into our hopes for our students? Beyond the possibility of it supplanting textbooks, how might we use it to support the development of curious, collaborative, intrinsically motivated and ethical lifelong learners? And if we could develop some apps of our own (we probably could), what would those look like?

Once you get over the not-inconsiderable cost hurdle and actually OWN an iPad, does the combination of the convenience of having an “always on” relationship to the ‘net, as well as the personalization available through all these applications (and the relatively low cost of most individual apps) make for lowered barriers to curiosity and connection?

We are still at the very beginning of figuring out what we could do… everyone has what the Buddhists call “beginner’s mind” when it comes to the iPad, by definition. There are already some pretty interesting applications out there:

Christmas concert using iPads as instruments:


Using the iPad for formative assessment of student learning:

Virtual frog dissection:

Still, some Mac-loving & generally tech-positive edu-folks are struggling w/ the decision of whether or not to get one:


Then again, as one of my online connections’ father likes to say, “”If everybody says it is a good idea, you’re too late.”

In closing (phew!), here are a few resources I found that might be helpful to folks who go ahead and “take the plunge”:

How to get started: http://www.rexblog.com/2010/12/25/22166

Another “getting started” post: http://justanotheripadblog.com/ipad-tips-tricks/getting-started-with-the-ipad/

Apple’s own “App Store” link right on the main screen of the iPad is a good jumping-off spot

App Shopper’s list of top 200 FREE apps for education:

The Teach With Your iPad Wiki:

iPad resources for administrators: http://www.mhric.org/ipad.html

(This post was cross-posted on an internal
school Moodle site designed for in-community sharing
around professional development experiences.
I’m grateful for the opportunity
to be a part of this wave of innovation in learning,
and looking forward to continuing to share
and listen to others’ perspectives!)

Posted on January 4, 2011, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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