I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to iPads I’m a hypocrite. When they first came out I was most definitely of the school of “that’s just a ridiculously large iPod – what an expensive paperweight!” Since that initial year of disbelief I’ve grown into an iPad addict. Now Julia (yes, my IPad does have a name) travels with me everywhere and my poor laptop gets opened maybe every three or four days. So why the big shift? Well, I’ve discovered that my iPad can do some really great things for me and not just when it comes to entertainment!

Portability: For many people one of the huge draws of the iPad is how compact and lightweight it is. Now that many textbooks are available in e-text form and many professors utilize Trunk to post readings my iPad contains all I need to excel in my courses. Now that everything is in one place I have less to worry about when packing for a day and can more easily take advantage of short MBTA trips to get work done.

Note Taking: I’m a strong believer that handwriting my notes helps me better connect with the material. I also know that if I’m writing my notes quickly my handwriting becomes atrocious and I’m lucky if I can read 1 out of 5 words later on. The iPad solves this problem for me with the creation of handwriting recognition apps. These apps (such as MyScript and 7Notes HD) translate my handwriting into text so that I get the best of both worlds – handwriting now and easy to read text later. Being able to scribble over PDFs, Word docs, and PowerPoints is another tool I really love when it comes to the iPad. I can write or draw any points I’d like to make wherever it makes the most sense. This is especially useful in lecture classes where professors use PowerPoint as a primary teaching tool.

Physical Interaction: When it comes to class having an iPad has really made a difference in the way I interact with my professor. Laptops with their upright screens can form a physical block. It’s easy to hide behind them and get distracted with Facebook, emails, finishing up projects for other classes, even online shopping. When it comes to the iPad I keep it close to the desk, using it like a physical notebook. Using it this way makes me feel more accountable to the professor and my classmates – I no longer have a screen to hide behind and be in my own little world with.

Since getting my iPad some of the apps I’ve discovered I can’t live without for learning are:

Notability($1): Annotate PDFs, Word docs, PowerPoint.
Docs-To-Go($10-$17): Word, Excel, PowerPoint editor. Integrated with online cloud services.
Drive(free): Google’s version of Word – allows editing of Google word docs.
Bamboo Paper(free – $2): Notebook app allows creation of multiple notebooks for handwriting/drawing.
Notes Plus ($10): Handwriting recognition.

Check back in the coming months for posts from the other AT Fellows on their discoveries on how the iPad is transforming their learning experience.

-Rebecca Wood-Spagnoli

 

One Response to Why I Can’t Live Without My Giant Paperweight

  1. [...] semester saw the inception of our iPad Pilot Program. We spent the semester exploring how iPads impact learning and teaching and came across some pretty cool apps such as: CloudOn, WolframAlpha, SlideShark, [...]

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