Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I am back

I took a slight 'leave of absence' from my blog. In this interim, however, I continued my journey of discovering everything that I can related to the iPad. My class continues to adore using this technology. It is always one of the first discussions of the day, "Who has their turn with the iPads?". "When do we get to use them today?"...There certainly are limitations to only having several to use in a classroom. By default, they have become a learning station, because for the most part, I don't have time during my day to work with two kids at a time. As I have spent countless hours researching and evaluating their use, my instincts still continue to tell me that 'just' having kids work independently using the educational apps really is not exploiting the real value of an iPad in the classroom. During my Christmas vacation, I decided to spend some quality time really delving into possible uses of the iPad besides how they were currently being used.
As an adult user, I found it takes awhile to assimilate to using an iPad. If you are a 'power' laptop user like I have been in the last few years, it just has a different 'feel'. The filing system is completely different (in fact, it doesn't exist...at least not to the degree that I have become accustomed to using on my MacBook). The best way I can describe it (to myself) is I felt for the longest time that I was always having to find a 'work around' as I navigated through tasks or simply familiarized myself with apps. Honestly, I have not mastered its UI....it still feels a bit foreign and I still find myself looking for a way to 'save' or 'save to'. Those kinds of filing and storing tasks still feel don't feel at all intuitive. For my purposes, in my work at school and home, I doubt I will ever give up my MacBook, but I think in order to get to a point where you can start to really evaluate and explore the iPad's best use in a classroom, you have to 'muss about' and figure out basic functions and navigations...otherwise, I think it is going to be relegated to a 'game playing' device or maybe a shiny glass covered 'text'....both, although valuable to a degree, don't reach its full potential.
I finally had a breakthrough when I realized I could 'create' content with the Keynote application. I read a lot of reviews and discussions about it's shortcomings and lackluster functioning, and with it's 'big ticket' price, I had hesitated to tap 'install'. But for my purposes, and because I have intentions to teach my kindergarten kids to use it, it is actually a wonderful asset and I would highly recommend making it one of your first purchases.
I will continue this discussion and my plans to create digital portfolios with my kindergarten kids in my next post.