In truth, it isn’t mine. It belongs to the school, and I have it for 3 days to play with. It has really impressed me in ways that I didn’t expect. It is like my phone, which I love, only easier to use. The colors and sounds are fabulous. I am not an artist, but it is great fun to play around with the art program, ArtStudio. I can almost type on the touch screen, and with a little bit of practice, I am sure I could master it. I am already a fan of Mac’s Pages as a word processing tool, so that is an added advantage. Plus, the internet connection is smooth and easy. It allows me to have all that I want from the Web, without any feeling of intensity or distraction.
For my classroom, I would love to have a set to use with the students. It totally dissolves the distance that occurs as soon as students all open their laptops and create a visual barrier between me and them. If I stand in the front of the room, then I am projecting over the 18 laptops to reach them, with no real control over what is on their screens. If I stand in the back of the room, with a full vision of their screens, I have lost the easier eye-to-eye contact that connects me to them and helps direct the conversation. If their tool was an iPad, I could see them and see what is going on on their screens.
There are advantages and disadvantages around its size. Because it is smaller than a laptop, it would be much easier for a student to have a textbook and an iPad on their desk, able to reference both during an assignment. With laptops, it is usually too tight a space for working with the textbook. The challenge with its size, however, is that it might well be dropped or banged up more easily. There may be some sort of device necessary to hold the iPad on a desk while it is being used in the classroom.
Touch screen creates a really different experience for me of using technology. It is so much less “separate.” The tool feels like a simple extension of my hand and thinking. Because the students use this technology with ease, the iPad seems like it would be a great, new tool. How do they see them? Do touch screen have the potential to allow them to feel closer to their work and self-expression or is it not that big a deal for them? I need to work with it more myself to figure out how this technology is shifting the ways that students might express themselves and connect with each other.