Another school (this time in the U.S.) announced that it is requiring iPads for all students which is cool (I’m not sure on the requiring part as much as the using part), but before people really start thinking about iPads as replacements for other technologies (well maybe paper textbooks) I wonder if it’s better to think of them as “with” devices.
One of the enduring images of the tablet computer is the Star Trek PADD device. Futuristic and cool and “how computers should be”, but have you ever noticed that PADD devices are just a part of how people in the Star Trek universe use computers? At first I thought that my iPad would be able to _ completely replace_ my laptop as a portable device. After nearly a year of having an iPad, it has replaced my laptop as a device I need to tote to meetings or out if I want to have something to jot down a thought or something to read, but if I need to code or collaborate or do work with WordPress, I need my laptop. Tomorrow, for example, I’m teaching a class at UBC. Sure I could do the whole slide presentation on my iPad, but working with WordPress? Yeah that gets a little problematic.
Given this use case maturation, I started thinking about iPads and iPod Touches in schools. Last week I mulled the place of tablets at work based on a Vancouver-area school that is using them more and more in the classroom. As I imagined students using the devices, it struck me looking at one of the pictures from the Vancouver Sun article of kids with iPads and paper notebooks that the iPad truly is a with device not instead of device. Working on some research? Reading the article quickly, even jotting notes on your iPad and then pushing the information to your desktop machine (as well as other people) just seems to flow well.
Making the iPad the device to compliment your other tools makes the iPad, in fact, a more powerful device for doing what it does well. If you don’t expect to be able to start and finish a document in Pages or QuickOffice then just being able to touch up and edit it is fine. Sure this flies in the face of some of Apple’s own marketing, but we don’t have to do everything Steve says!
One of the other complimentary arenas is PDF editing and markup. I’m using PDF Expert for this (they also make my fav app Readdle Docs). The idea is simple. We’re used to marking up documents by holding them in front of us. Open a PDF file, whip out your handy stylus (I’m enjoying a new one I picked up from Targus) and edit away. Some of the other PDF reading apps (like GoodReader) make the editing process artificially cumbersome. I want to be able to tap a pen tool and circle and draw in the margins, etc. For school, what needs to happen is to have eTextbooks be able to be used like this. Not just highlights, but notes, additional info from teachers, or even friends. An iPad with an app where you can annotate your textbook with links to other content? Yeah that would rock. Now imagine having that open while writing a paper? Need to make a citation while reading online? Push it to Instapaper or Evernote, then pull into your paper on your machine.
The more I see using my iPad (and iPhone) beside my laptop (or its successor which will likely be an iMac) rather than instead of it. The more possibilities and synergies I see.
Hmm, maybe it is time I give Evernote another chance…
Originally posted on the Future Shop Tech Blog.