iPad in miLife

After an experiment in which I spent 24 hours using only my iPad for all things technology I was better able to pinpoint the ways I might use an iPad in my teaching and consulting work as well as what further tools I may need to do this. Based on this and the past few weeks of use I have been able to come to a set of conclusions that begin to answer the question.

“How will the iPad transform my work?”

Web search-
Ease of surfing is perhaps the most obvious benefit. No two ways about it, the iPad is a superior browsing tool; fast, fast, fast, intuitive and easy to use. One drawback- the flash issue can get in the way now and then.

Media –
The iPad is simply great for viewing video and reading books; especially on the go. On a recent business trip, carrying only the small lightweight iPad, I could read a professional publication, watch a video and listen to the most recent podcast of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me– a great way to pass the 6 hours in flight. Added bonus: the iPad does not have to be taken out of your luggage for separate inspection by security. Video viewing is superior on the iPad and to have both options in one machine saved my usual packing of books, magazines, laptop and mp3 player. Did I mention the awesome battery life? This meant I could actually sit anywhere in the airport lounge rather than on the floor next to the outlet by the line to the restrooms.

Email
I have all of my email accounts linked to Gmail, which allows me to quickly and easily monitor all incoming email on my phone, laptop or iPad. The drawback is that I get hundreds of emails a day (on a slow day) and Gmail threads them, so that often new emails responding to an old discussion literally are lost in the shuffle. The iPad’s larger display and the way in which it offers a split screen view of the emails and posts them as they come in has simplified email viewing for me. No more losing emails- it has been enough to tempt me to swear off all other ways of viewing my email and forgo my “crackberry” habit. What would that leave me with? A padberry habit? Or perhaps a crackpad habit?

One drawback – I can’t automatically bring up addresses for anyone I correspond with on gmail unless I have emailed the person from my iPad – put figure out contacts on my “to do” list

Calendar
I haven’t been able to access my calendar which I keep using gmail. My phone syncs no problem; iPad needs a pricey ap. I can experiment with using the iPad calendar but I like keeping my calendar accessible in the cloud. “Buy ap or find work around” goes on my “to do” list.

Aps
One of my teachers was thrilled with the idea of aps when I mentioned that we might be piloting iPads this summer. For this teacher, internet access and funds for technology are both severely restricted, so the idea of being able to access low cost software for the arts classroom which is not internet based, is a very attractive one. This was a convincing reason for me- and I have begun the search for the best aps to outfit an Arts iPad. With a myriad of aps for the iPad as well as many iPhone and iPod Touch aps that work; the smorgasbord can be mind boggling. I found that more than needing an ap, I needed a way to rate and compare aps. Searching the internet brought up several wonderful sites that do just that- some with a special interest area for arts educators. I list the best I’ve found to date below:

www.ipadinschools.com
http://ipadeducators.ning.com
www.appolicious.com
www.iear.com
www.pcmag.com

Documents, Spreadsheets, Productivity

Productivity in my day can be defined as the ability to author documents, spreadsheets and forms; publish documents, spreadsheets and forms to websites, store documents, spreadsheets and forms in the cloud, and host or attend online meetings using Webex and Elluminate. I am having partial success in this area.

I have been able to access and edit Google docs and spreadsheets. This means I can create them on my netbook, laptop or computer, store them in Googledocs and access them. In addition I learned that the ap Goodreader (best .99 I ever spent!) can allow me to access documents wirelessly on my netbook from my iPad. Goodreader lets me open PDF files and scroll through them like a book and even to project files using Apple’s VGA cable. Added bonus, I’ve just learned that you can use Goodreader to get files onto your iPad by dropping folders into your iTunes then using iTunes to sync.

The problem becomes creating files on the iPad. I am hearing from many sources that the best bet may be to just go ahead and bite the bullet and buy the iWorks series. Most likely if I began to work exclusively on my iPad I would begin to want a wireless keyboard as well- then it has to be said that I have yet to find a good way to print from the iPad. Most of the printers I researched had limitations, especially if you are a PC user. For a great discussion of the problem see “How to Print From Your iPad” Bear in mind that this is dated 4/9/2010 and things are changing daily as more groups roll out products to support iPads.

The past week has been a blurry of research for me- reading professional journals, online magazines, forums, blogs, etc. in search of some insights on iPads as I approach the question of transformative technology from the perspective of how technology might transform my worklife.

In my worklife, I heavily depend on computers to communicate, to research and to author and disseminate information. I finally have to concur with one writer I found who stated that rather than turn his iPad into a computer, he anticipates buying a bigger desktop for his word processing, video editing, etc. but using iPad to replace all of his mobile access issues.

I think I will hold off on depending on my iPad as my workhorse and instead look at leveraging its unique characteristics in truly transformative ways. I’ve decided that rather than attempt to take a beautiful apple (pardon the pun) and turn it into an orange, I intend to celebrate the unique characteristics of the apple itself.

And so my inquiry morphs yet once more:

How can the unique characteristics of an iPad transform my teaching and learning?
How can the unique characteristics of an iPad become a creative tool?
How can the unique characteristics of an iPad transform teaching and learning in arts classrooms?

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About Cory Wilkerson

Cory is a Free Lance Arts Education Consultant working with Arts Ed 2.0 and Project Manager for State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education.
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