On using iPads in the classroom.

I’m a veteran of the Innovationspace’s iPad pilot program, from both the instructor and student perspective, and I’m not entirely sold on it.

After having an iPad for the better part of two years, I have to say that I love it. I love being able to call anything up immediately using the web browsers. I love being able to read and respond to email. I love the wide variety of apps. I love being able to write using my pal Justin’s Elements app.

But I don’t love the iPad enough to take it out of its case when I go home at night. My BlackBerry still rules my days and nights as my go-to communication device. Why hasn’t the iPad surplanted it? Would it have done so if I had one with always-on Internet through a wireless carrier like Verizon or AT&T?

One surprising thing I don’t love about the iPad: reading documents on it. I’ve found that I prefer reading printed matter over electronic matter (except for the BlackBerry, which I’ll get to in a second). For my IS Senior Seminar, some of the texts used in previous semesters were e-books only accessible through Scholar. Getting access to them on the iPad through Scholar was maddening. By the middle of one particular semester, PDFs of the readings were made available as a workaround (Spinuzzi term, what up fellow bus rider) for the inaccessibility of the textbook on the iPad.

One thing I’ve realized students don’t love about the iPad: typing on it. One complaint that I’ve heard repeatedly from students taking the IS Senior Seminar is that the iPad is difficult to type on. And yes, it is difficult when the iPad is in portrait mode. In landscape mode, I’ve found it to be more usable, but the lack of screen space to see what’s been typed is frustrating.

One thing everyone can agree may not be lovable about the iPad: it is a distraction device par excellence. iMessage, Twitter, Facebook, Angry Birds, you name it, there’s a distracting app for that. As someone who has both seen student distracted use of iPads and engaged in it myself, I’m not sure what can be done.

But I don’t expect iPads to disappear from classrooms because of too many people playing Candy Crush, that’s for sure.