I didn’t have a mirror on hand during our last TALL session, so someone else will have to tell me – did I turn shades of purple when Jim mentioned the article about brick and mortar bookstores becoming defunct?
As a true-to-the-end bibliophile, I can’t envision a world without books (or, for that matter, bookstores). A world where the unadulterated joys of turning physical pages and handling the heft (yes, it’s a good thing) of a physical book are absent is a world I would rather not be in. I understand that e-readers have made the process of reading much more convenient, but I believe the ease with which an act is carried out doesn’t necessarily make it more enjoyable. Hiking, for instance, is a long and arduous process and I’m sure someone might tout the installation of an airline roadway on a nature trail as more convenient, but I don’t think it would make the activity better.
That’s just my personal philosophy on books. The use of technology in classrooms is quite a different matter. I can see all the ways in which devices like iPads and laptops enhance the processes of teaching and learning. The Apple video that Alissa posted certainly made that clear. The one thing that concerns me, however, is that if a teacher wanted to maximize the benefits of technology as the teachers in the video had done, they would have to 1) become experts with their devices, to the point where they could wield them with comfort and unthinking ease, and 2) teach their students how to use them until they could also use them readily. To do this would take considerable time, and I suspect much of this would subtract time from what could have been spent on ‘low-tech’ skills such as note-taking, paraphrasing, and doing foot research. Additionally, if technology is progressing and spitting out new iterations of today’s devices so rapidly, would it be worth it to get them fully trained and acquainted with one, when a newer and better might come out the next year?
Or will paper and pencil someday go the way of Borders bookstores, making technology the sole vehicle for learning?
The following is a true story.
For the sake of my public and professional dignity, I wish I were making it up, but I’m not.
I was in a restaurant and on my table, there was a standing advertisement for the newest cocktails and desserts. I picked it up and – I kid you not – unthinkingly touched the picture of the dessert. I spent a whole second in complete befuddlement when it didn’t respond to my finger.
I shall coin this disease iPaditis. I know this virus will have reached its full blown stage the day I tap a student’s cheek where their volume (read: mute) button should be. All this to say, I think I’m getting used to my iPad.
On a more serious note, I’ve been using my iPad’s whiteboard apps to make notes on the classroom Smartboard without having to turn my back on the students. Unfortunately, I’ve been finding that the dongle that connects it to the Smartboard has a mind of its own and only projects the iPad after I sprinkle some fairy dust and incant the magic word. And even after it does, the connection is so fickle that it gets lost if I move the iPad around too much. Forgive me, but I just feel like a device this portable should allow me to transport my iPad from at least 2 millimeters away from the Smartboard.
So now I’ve been looking into whiteboard apps that have a remote desktop functionality so I can connect my laptop to the Smartboard as usual, but then wirelessly sync the iPad and laptop. That way, I can write on the iPad from anywhere in the room and have it appear on the Smartboard. There are two I’m considering: Splashtop and Doceri. They’re both considerably more expensive than most other apps, but I think the convenience of mobility is well worth it. Will report back.
Confession # 1: I cheated on my iPad over break and clandestinely cavorted with the newest Kindle. But I felt guilty the whole time I was doing it, and when I found I couldn’t do much else besides reading books, I returned to my faithful apple product.
Conclusion # 1: A Kindle is for readers. An iPad is for everyone.
Confession # 2: I like children well enough but not when I’m on break. So I allowed this very expensive gadget device to take over my babysitting duties for fifteen minutes while I desperately tried to remember why I volunteered to watch my over-hyper cousin.
Conclusion # 2a: An iPad is a monster-whisperer.
Conclusion # 2b: An iPad can survive an 8-foot fall from a bunk bed (just kidding, Jim and Roman). But I’m still glad to see that it can be handled by a five year old and return to my hands unscathed.
Confession # 3: Lately, the iPad has only been used in my classroom as a camera/video player.
Corollary confession # 3: I think some of my Kindergarteners know how to use this iPad better than I do.
Confession # 4: I used my iPad once while I was on the road (albeit in traffic) to check an urgent email.
Conclusion # 4: This is a very bad idea.
Confession # 5: I yelled at my iPad the other day. I know, it doesn’t know any better and I shouldn’t have lost my temper but if spell check tries to auto-correct my last name into a contraction one more time, I’m going to throw a grammar book at it. I’m Jane Im. Not Jane I’m.
Conclusion # 5: Maybe I should learn how to turn off spell check.