So what about this iPad
What a great day at home observing Good Friday which is a vacation day for us. It is raining with no chance of improved weather so I’m catching up on all sorts of correspondence and web surfing. Oh, yes and my dog is at my feet. So what about this iPad? Yes, I’m very excited about picking one up tomorrow morning. I held off for a week on the iPhone and I do remember being in line to buy Windows 95 way back when, so choosing to go to the store is as much about the task as it is the experience. I am really interested in the type of crowd that will be there. I will probably do a post based on observations and feedback. So what about this iPad.
If you know of me and George Fox University you may understand that our decision to offer the iPad as an option to the MacBook for incoming students was a simple decision influenced by the changing technology landscape. The fact that we were first has generated a lot of publicity which has spawned a number of commentaries and interviews. An interesting forum, not so much for promoting our decision to offer iPads, but more for the stage to talk about the future of academic computing. Most Higher Ed CIOs do not enter into these conversations, and those that do tend to have focused agendas, I tend to be more speculative. And if I look back on my career it is my track record. But I also look back and realize that I have always been right and I think that is because I have always been able to view my job from the outside. I have been in Higher Ed for half of my career and time spent with HP and various other jobs even as a chemist has helped keep me on the edge. That said let’s recap: “So what about this iPad”
We do not need to spend time addressing what the Apple iPad has or does not have. It has all that most of us need to function very effectively in this Internet driven world and it optimizes those features at the expense of the less important. The biggest issue for many is that it is no longer a Microsoft driven world, so get over it. A common evaluation: “The iPad is designed more for consumers rather then creators”. Yes, but the creators it is not designed for is a very small percent. I think this is again more about accepting our changing role as technology users. This is an issue for the geek who defines their worth from their computing prowess and many more of us who want to believe we are of that level as well. Nope, being Web 2.0 savvy does not classify us as power users and it is OK to have a base computer for those times when we do need to power create.
How does this translate to higher education? Our students are primarily information consumers and the reason the iPad is the perfect tool is that the Internet is the primary information provider. This has been creeping up on us but it has been easy to ignore or control. Our students typically bring their laptop to class and we have gotten past the apprehension that it will be misused. It has been easy to observe the value of Internet assisted collaboration in our online courses. Now we have to acknowledge and adapt to that value in the classroom. The professor becomes a mentor for all of this information rather then the deliverer. Faculty can deal with this and can thrive, they just don’t like the work it will require for them to transition. I believe the iPad will be the device that will define this transition.