This was my reaction when was first introduced to iPad technology last year. I just didn't get it.
I quizzed my husband, way more in tune to new technology than I am. “So it's just an oversized iPod? What's the big deal?” He has an iPod; I don't. The idea of paying hundreds of dollars for a bigger one made no sense to me.
Over the course of the past year, we have continued to talk about possible uses for an iPad. I am in no way tech-phobic or anti-technology, but at the same time I see how techno-crazed our society has become, observing as an anthropologist might. I have been simultaneously amazed and distressed to see how cell phones have become a compulsive toy many people can't put down or set aside, but rather fiddle with, a constant and nervous twitch. I worry about how my children gravitate toward any available computer screen, regardless of whether it's displaying a Electric Sheep or the dinner recipe I am preparing. I question my own evening routine that is not complete without scrolling through my facebook newsfeed. The iPad craze seems like one more gadget in the great tech toybox of the twenty first century.
Which is not to say that I don't see the potential for an iPad to be useful. If, for instance, I were planning a long trip overseas, the iPad would be an excellent traveling companion: giving me access to email, internet and Skype; allowing me to capture my trip with photos and video; acting as a repository for music and video I would bring with me. And when I got bored on a long train ride, I could play a few levels of Angry Birdies. I get it.
But Apple is claiming the iPad is much, much more. One commerical begins, "If you ask a parent, they might call it intuitive...to the teacher, it's the future.” Whoa. I am a teacher. Is this my future? And what does that mean?
My school district has begun to explore that question. They have made a modest purchase of iPads, enough to put a single iPad in each school for the coming school year. I have been selected to be the teacher in my school that is trained to use the iPad and test it out in her classroom. I will attend the training later this month, but have already been granted access to the iPad itself.
I am being encouraged by my building technology guru to take notes on thoughts, uses, reactions, etc. Actually, he suggested I use the Evernote App to jot down my thoughts. As as writer, I need an audience, or at least the potential for one. Thus was born the idea to take notes, and use them for blog fodder.
This entry was typed on my laptop with all ten fingers, but I do intend to learn how to post to a blog directly from the iPad. (I'm almost positive this is possible.) My next entry will be about my first week with the iPad and how I (mostly) didn't play any games on it. But my primary intent for this blog is to document how I use the iPad with my students in the coming school year and what applications are transformative to how I teach and how they learn. I have the whole summer to get ready...I hope some of you will join me on this journey!