Keep in mind, I’m not really bragging with the title above, but recently, I sat down and did some thinking about my use of the iPad both professionally and personally. As an educator who likes to experiment with technology, I wanted to reflect on how I really use the device. For that matter, I wanted to think more broadly and ask a question one of my college professors in instructional technology used to ask us think about when it came to technology: “So what?” That is still a pretty good question to ask when some shiny new gadget catches my eye. So in this case, I ask myself the question: “So what that I have an iPad. What does that really mean to my job and personal life?” Here’s my responses to that question.
- Having an iPad has actually caused me to use my Android phone less, and use it more when I have my iPad. Part of the reason for this is for my “older eyes” that smart phone screen is just not as easy to read at times. No, I don’t want a smart phone as large as an iPad, but some application text on my Android is so small. At my age, if I can provide my older eyes with larger text and a larger screen, I’ll do it. I know you can often increase the size of the text in smart phone apps, but sometimes it just can’t make the text big enough. I’m sure there are some other “older” educators out there who experience the same thing. I would also add, for someone with large fingers, doing a great deal of typing on that Droid keyboard is sometimes maddening. When it comes down to it, if I have both my iPad and smart phone in close proximity, I’m going to reach for my iPad. (For those who have become iPad haters, just substitute your tablet name above where I have indicated iPad.) The iPad has become the device of choice if my laptop isn’t available or practical.
- Having an iPad is transforming me into an e-book reader. For someone who is such a big fan of regular books, this is truly transformational. I have over 2 or 3 thousand books in my home, and I have a stack of books I have purchased over the last six months that I call my “current reading stack.” Now that I have gotten in the habit of buying e-books, the current reading stack in my bedroom isn’t growing like it was. Instead, my e-library is expanding, meaning I do not have to hear my significant other complain about my purchasing more books. Most of the time, the iPad has begun to replace that book that I always used to carry around. The iPad is transforming me into an e-book reader.
- Having an iPad has hooked me into a quest for useful and interesting apps. I’ve always been a bit of an experimenter with software applications. For example, there was a time when I had three or four different mindmapping programs on my lap top. I actually enjoy trying out applications to see what they’ll do. That same habit has now carried over to the iPad. Last night, when running a backup of my device, I noticed that there were several applications listed in iTunes that I had once installed but were now uninstalled. In the short time I have been using an iPad, I have tried more than dozen applications that haven’t earned a permanent icon on my screen. The iPad encourages me to experiment and explore the capabilities of tablets.
- Having an iPad means I no longer have yellow legal pads in my office. Since I began using the iPad, I can’t remember the last time I carried a legal pad into a meeting. In fact, I’ve probably saved a few sticky notes as well because I am just as likely to grab my iPad and create notes and reminders on it as I am to reach for a pen or pad of paper. In practical terms, it means I’ve been using the same sticky note pad since the beginning of this year. I also have not had to purchase a single ink pen. I am still using pens from the same box purchased last year. The iPad has made me operate in a more paperless (and I would add penless) fashion.
Honestly, I am not sure I have finished answering the question, “So what?” I think I have answered the question enough to say that the iPad is an important part of my life, professionally and personally. Yet, the one time I left it at the office, I did not have to fight the urge to go back and retrieve it. If I leave my laptop bag or smartphone, I still blaze a reverse trail to go back and get them.