Ipad or notebook as a classroom tool?

Will the classroom notebook computer go the way of the Dodo! (I know, lame link!)

One of the things I been pondering over likely is whether the iPad can really be a replacement for the notebook computer as the default classroom device. I’ve taught in a one-to-one laptop program for over 15 years now and I that I can’t imagine teaching any other way. And perhaps that’s my problem, that I can’t imagine what a different model might look like. A model without a keyboard.

But when I really think about, how often are my students, even the senior students, writing long pieces in class? Mostly, they are note taking in OneNote and writing their longer pieces at home. And the iPad will handle that just fine.

Yesterday, I joined a colleague to do some writing and I didn’t take my laptop. One, my laptop is clunky, heavy, overheats, has a battery life of about an hour and is just so far removed from being an enjoyable experience that it’s not funny. Secondly, I wanted to see whether I could do some decent writing on the iPad.

So, I packed my iPad, a Bluetooth keyboard and left the laptop at home. I wrote in Evernote, not because that’s a particularly good experience, but I knew it was automatically syncing with a shared folder in dropbox. We were revising a textbook for the new edition so every revision became a new note. I used an app called Popplet to do some simple mind maps and annotate some news photographs. I wasn’t writing anything really long but I hardly missed the laptop, maybe just the full-size keyboard.

Could I write a whole new book on the iPad? I doubt it. And it wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience if I tried. But could the iPad be the device during the day, the lightweight device with 10 hour battery life, instant on and a highly personalised personal productivity tool? I think it could. I never want to be without a “real” computer. It’s not the post-PC age for me. But more and more I’m thinking that the real computer might be a powerful desktop computer at home and the travelling computer an iPad.

I’ve changed a bit in my thinking about this. About a year ago I blogged that I didn’t think the iPad was good enough for senior students. I still think that senior students deserve the best tool possible, it’s just that I’m finding that the iPad is a more powerful tool than I thought

(Dictated to Dragon express, Photo by Warrick, of new iPad case I got for my birthday)

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3 comments

  1. Interesting post Warrick. I’ve just found out that I will be teaching Grade 4 next year and that we will be piloting the 1-1 iPad program in our school. Like you, I have reservations about the iPad replacing the laptop computer but hopefully, throughout trial and error, we can create a successful community with them. If you have any suggestions for good resources to learn about iPads in the classroom, feel free to send them my way! I’ll keep you up-to-date with my journey!

    1. Thanks Anna; its been interesting to talk to the students about it, all of whom have (as you know) a notebook computer already. They mostly see it as a sideways, even backwards step, that it wouldn’t give them the power and functionality they’ve already go, so why go that way?

      I love my iPad, but could it do it all? Maybe not.

      Congrats too on all your recent achievements from running to driving to getting back into the classroom. Teaching needs people like you!

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