Thursday, February 24, 2011

My 2 cents worth about the iPad

My 2 cents literally (taken with my Nikon CoolPix)
In response to a colleague’s email about what the iPads might be used for, I had to write this little post.
“What prevents the students from chatting, playing games, etc.?” Nothing and that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Chatting in the “real” world is better known as collaboration and group work.  Yes, it needs to be directed, but who is to say we couldn’t do that?  Also, gaming and game theory are much more on the forefront of business and education than they used to be.  I am just starting a book, Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal  that is about why games make us better and can change the world. 
Okay, so I would agree that the iPad is not necessarily the ONLY option for educational use and that the article doesn’t say HOW they would use it, but I have found that the apps that are focused on educational and organizational objectives are pretty well-designed.  However, I am coming at this from more of a K-12 viewpoint than a higher education one.  Since I teach K-12 teachers, I see using it with them so that they would know how to incorporate it into their classroom.  Also, for more information about how the iPad could be used in schools, please check out the iPad curriculum pages from Palm Beach County Schools in Florida here and look at the Applications section. They have it divided up into apps for Elementary, Middle, and High School.  I would assume that these are the apps that all of the iPads would have on them. These apps have been selected by teachers who have reasons for needing them in class.
iPad :)photo © 2010 Rego Korosi | more info (via: Wylio)

I am still undecided about the usefulness of the iPad for production rather than consumption use. For example, I have downloaded and use Penultimate, a notebook app, but  I would still prefer to write on paper as my handwriting is never read very well by optical reader software.  And I type faster than I write in longhand anyway.  I would say at least 75% of the apps I have downloaded and would use in a classroom are focused on consumption, i.e. using the app to play a game or review course content. 

Personally, I don’t see me using the iPad to create word processing documents, presentations, or spreadsheets. I think the best tool for me is my desktop or laptop with the full Microsoft Office suite. I am also not able to use the iPad for many of the free Web 2.0 tools I use to teach my class because they are Flash-based and will not run on the iPad OS. I see that many technology tools are needed for me to be the best teacher I can be. And here is another author's take on the iPad. So take from these ideas what you will.

I don’t know that any one device will ever serve the needs of all of our higher education students and faculty. We may want to consider what our needs are and what device meets those needs the best.  I hear that HP has 3 different sizes of tablet computers coming out soon in 3 different sizes with e-reader software.  Perhaps e-textbooks is what we really want to use tablets like the iPad or Galaxy for instead of as a substitute for a robust computer like a laptop or desktop.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Apps Galore!

Okay, I finally got my Apple iTunes account straightened out and registered it on my iPad so I have been a downloading fool this morning! :)

Here are the apps I chose:

Free Apps
1. Pandora--Internet Radio is an awesome site I have used on my desktop, but now I have access on the iPad, too. It lets you choose a song you like, and then it builds a “station” around that song. You can create lots of different stations for different moods.
2. Instapaper--this app allows you to download web info to read later when you may not have a wi-fi connection.  This was an app recommended at FETC but I have just downloaded on the iPad and I think it rocks!
3. NPR--great stories available to listen to when it’s convenient for me.
4. Elementals--all the different elements of the periodic table in cartoon form. Don’t knock it until you try it. I think high school and college students would like it.

For Pay Apps I just had to have today

1. Penultimate--This app gives you a notebook space to write on in iPad format.  I used my new iPad stylus  (Targus from Best Buy $19.99 ) to play with this app. It is pretty good for taking notes. It says it will print, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.
2. Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss--This app of this children’s book is amazing! The pictures are just like those in the “real” book.  It will read it to you or do an autoplay also.
3. Saving Seeds--this is a drawing and physics game to create a path for the seeds to get to the flower pot. I am not very good at it, but I will get better.

There are so many apps to choose from it is mind-boggling. I am looking for apps to use with education majors and also for apps for personal productivity.  Please post a comment and let me know what apps are your MUST HAVES for your iPad.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Bad and The Good Week 1

The Bad

I had forgotten that iPads don't recognize flash media (here is one guy's take on why that is so). So it was a design plan??? Why?? All I know it that it makes me sad. :( I have so many education games and other fabulous web sites that I would love to use on the iPad, but they don't work because of the lack of Flash. So, do I find Apple apps that do the same things that the other sites do? Or do I find other sites that don't use Flash that will work on my iPad? Or do I not use my iPad for those things? Things to think about for sure.

The Good

Videos rock on the iPad! I have loved using YouTube, TeacherTube, and BrainPop on the iPad.  The videos download quickly and are easy to view.  I also love the way Facebook and Twitter work on the iPad, but I haven't quite got the hang of Plurk on it yet. I also have not used it to blog yet, because the on screen keyboard is awkward at best for me. And I did purchase the iPad stylus that Best Buy in Tuscaloosa had, but I haven't played with it yet.  I really like the touch screen, I guess.

My plan is to download the Nook app to the iPad and see how that works for me.  Also, I am going to download the education apps I heard about at FETC as soon as I can get my Apple account straightened out!

P.S. I took the pictures above with my Nikon CoolPix S205 and the app was Doodle Buddy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I have joined the "in" crowd!

I have been selected to participate in an iPad group here at UWA to see how these (and other)tablets might be used in our classrooms and in the classrooms of the K-12 teachers we instruct. This was such great timing as last week I was in Orlando at FETC and learned so much about how teachers and techies attending that conference were using the device with their students and faculties.

I am so excited to have an iPad to play with, experiment with, and use with my students. It is really the most awesome, truly innovative technology that I have to show them. So now I am downloading apps that I already had on my iPhone to the iPad.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be loading the many free, educational apps I learned about at FETC.