Saturday, May 22, 2010

Classroom iPad thoughts

My wife has an iPad.  She loves it.  She reads the New York Times in the morning, has a spiffy Starbuck's app that allows her to purchase coffee at participating Starbucks (they have to have the correct scanning tool,) listens to podcasts, and reads in bed in the evening.  My school IT department has an iPad.  I was asked what I would do with it in class.  I thought it might aid students in learning about Geography during the first unit of the year.  So, I tried to replicate what we had done this past fall.  I used Safari to research volcanic activity in Iceland (there was no shortage of information!)  Then I found a picture I wanted.  I copied (trying to think intuitively here) it.  Next I opened Keynote and began a new presentation.  But, I could not paste the image.  Didn't matter what trick I tried or how many fingers I placed on the iPad or how long I held them there.  No pasting.  Somewhat frustrated, my family decided it was time to walk to frozen yogurt.  On the way, we passed a Mac Store.  Stopping in, I explained my problem.  The helpful salesperson suggested that maybe I should save the photo, then insert it from the photo library.  This worked!  But, the entire experience was so cumbersome, it would require too much work on the part of students preparing presentations.  Then I remembered what bloggers around the world have been saying, "iPad is for consuming content, not creating it."

While mulling over that thought, my wife came in to share some new apps she had found for her iPad.  One was an interactive Alice in Wonderland App.  Objects in the story moved!  This reminded me of all that spiffy new CD-ROM technology of the late 1980's.  I half expected her to show me a Hypercard app!  Now, that would be cool!  What's next?  IPad laser discs?  So, I am back at the electronic canvas again.  How can I integrate iPads to increase student learning?  What content do I want students to consume that an iPad is best suited for?   C'mon web those comments here.  If you don't have an iPad, but have an idea, post it.  I'll test it for you and blog the results.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

An iPad in the family

Pam's Mother's Day present arrived early this year.  Friday, she began using her 3G iPad.  So far, when she has been able to wrest it from the hands of visitors, spouses (spice?), and child, she has been loading it with books and organizing her recipes.  I have upgraded our wireless network so that the kitchen is now within range.  So....will she ever buy another paper book?  It's a hot topic right now.  Both Will Richardson and Jay Hurvitz have written on the subject.  Will writes that since he found out he can access his Amazon Kindle annotations online (who knew?), he thinks the game has now changed.  Accessing his notes means he can share them with others.  Oh, right now, things are a bit cludgy, and closed systems such as Amazon and Apple make the actual sharing more of a chore, that will eventually come to an end, I surmise.  People will want to communicate their thoughts on a piece of writing, a video, a podcast, and those thoughts will be shared and recommented upon much as many Twitter users retweet their favorite sites of the day.  At the speed at which apps are being developed, this will probably happen sooner rather than later.

Jay is a bit more skeptical, but, then again, he lives in Israel which last week finally allowed Wi-Fi iPads into the country, so he is forgiven for being a bit behind the iPad curve.  Jay is more concerned about the closed nature of Amazon.  How does one share notes if they have no Amazon account?  Actually, it is a good question.  How does one share Amazon notes with those who have accounts?  I know of no way to currently share my annotations unless I move them out of Amazon and that is a substantial amount of work.  Also, I currently use three e-book readers.  I am unable to share annotations between them.

I am, however, as enthusiastic as Will Richardson right now.  Apps are just starting to be developed for the iPad.  I believe an App will appear that lets me share my notes and thoughts on a book with others around the world.  Why so optimistic?  Magic Piano!  This iPad app has a duet feature which allows users all over the world to play piano duets together.  Now, if musicians can do it, can readers be far behind?