Monday, January 16, 2012

Recanting iPad Gloom and Doom? (Recant Updates)


At last, the Zagg keyboard and iPad2 arrived, and it's completely changed my perception of the iPad as a note-taking device. However, there are some serious limitations that I'm just not sure make it worth hauling around--even at TCEA 2012 State Conference, which is what I was planning to do. At this point, a netbook running Linux is the better deal as a productivity tool.

Recant #1: This morning, on my way to a meeting, I couldn't help but notice the iPad+Zagg(iPadZ) fit into my Nook bag...significantly lighter than the netbook I'd planned to take to a meeting! Worse, the netbook died on me (corrupt HD) and I found myself thinking, "Darn, if I'd only brought the iPadZ!"

Quick reflections on connecting the keyboard to the iPad2:
No longer stuck with a tablet device that's frustrating to enter data into (I type 72 words per minute, and going down to one-finger typing is an irritation I can't sufficiently explain...but it does yield insight into why the iPad has such great appeal to the 1 finger typists who are low-tech users), I'm finding new opportunities to use the device!

For example, I'm typing this blog entry on the Zagg keyboard and iPad. I'm not sure that adding links to the document will be all that simple, but it's not impossible (adding the link was moderately difficult).

Of course, on Blogger, it appears one is stuck in HTML view rather than the more elegant COMPOSE view when using Safari on the iPad. Before finalizing this blog entry, I had to edit it on the laptop. Safari browser was the only browser worth using...Terra failed utterly.

Adding images didn't prove to be as simple as I'd, strictly text only so far. Another thing...even when using the Mail app, it's difficult to add attachments to email. I hope I'm missing something because this seems like a very problematic omission! Of course, I'm probably coming at the problem from the wrong least, that's what you tell yourself when you don't believe
Recant #2: Thanks to advice via Twitter, I'm using the Blogger App for iPhone to craft blog entries. It's not perfect, but allows editing and creation of blog entries, as well as inclusion of a photo you snapshot or camera roll. Works OK but needs a bigger iPad specific app. Still, it will do in a pinch!

Reflecting on Experiment: that I'm back on a keyboard and computer, it's clear that the iPad+keyboard will never achieve anything more than a toy status for me, at least, in the blogging department. I know it's a narrow window, but at this point, it's clear that the iPad+Zagg keyboard--which is pretty nice for its bluetooth capability--leaves a lot to be desired.

At this point, I cannot in good conscience recant my fundamental opposition to the iPad as anything but an expensive consumer device--even with its nice digital storytelling and music apps--that is dead in the water for a writer unless one adds a $100 keyboard. The Asus Aspire One netbook--and similar models--ends up being a better, more powerful tools than the iPad.


drphil said...

Indeed you have struck at the heart of the problem with viewing the iPad (and I do own one and enjoy using it) as a viable tool for most of what students should be doing in school. If we want students to be consumers of knowledge only, the tablet succeeds. When we want them to produce something, create, innovate, do real work as they must learn to do in the world of commerce, the iPad is simply insufficient.
Though I often use one in the evening to tweet, find information, even order something from Amazon (though that's much easier on a laptop or desktop), writing an essay, desktop publishing, video editing, even blogging, as you just found out, would be a miserable experience on an iPad.
I teach high school English, and my students create content almost every day. For them, the iPad would be a very expensive and inadequate tool and a waste of financial resources for the school district.

Miguel Guhlin said...

Dr. Phil, I agree with you wholeheartedly. As a writing teacher, a few $25 Raspberry Pi devices with a monitor, keyboard, mouse and internet access would be more effective--both in usability and cost--than a $500+ ipad with $100 keyboard.

Of course, a few cheap netbooks would work. The problem is school districts are afraid to put solutions that work on the table because they are focused on MANAGING everything from the top-down.

With a more powerful netbook, students could craft writing (e.g. LibreOffice, AbiWord, GoogleDocs, ZohoWriter, MS Live@EDU), create video (OpenShot Video Editor), and publish it online much easier than the ipad.


drphil said...

Yes, or even a cheap 15" laptop, which schools could negotiate for $300 to $350 each. I'm morbidly amazed at the ability of humans in general and school admins in particular to think illogically. Why is it such an outlandish idea to allow your most effective teachers to have some input on the best tools for their students to use? Yet so many times I see schools spending tech budgets for outdated or inadequate tools when it would be cheaper per student--and therefore place powerful resources in the hands of more students--to buy the most appropriate tool for the job.

Jason said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your post. My district is embarking on trying to pass a bond issue for 1:1, and although it hasn't been decided, we're already piloting iPads and not much else. Can you address the issue of tech maintenance, particularly with a depleted tech staff? I know they're concern is with maintenance and repairs. I would agree that the iPad would better withstand the rigors of backpacks and transfers than a folding netbook.

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