Early Returns on the iPad

A year ago when the new iPad debuted, many of my colleagues assumed that I would buy one immediately, given my track record. For example, when the first bondi blue iMac was for sale, I bought it in the first month. I purchased my iPod Touch the day it came out and on was on hand the very first day the app store opened. In fact, a colleague of mine asked me a year ago to do a workshop on the iPad for administrators not even considering that I might not own one yet.

I attended an Apple Conference for administrators in Boston last summer and received some training on the iPad and was able to play with it for a few days. I even purchased my wife one last year but I was not convinced it was the right tool for me. Then, this spring I borrowed our school’s new iPad and took it for a test run. I took notes in meetings, wrote a few teacher walk throughs, and kept it by my side. For my 50th birthday my kids and wife pitched in and bought me a 32 gig iPad 2 which I have used for less than a week on vacation. My thoughts:

WHAT THE IPAD DOES WELL

As advertised, the iPad shines as a communicator of information. Between my RSS reader, Twitter and Facebook accounts and various news and sports apps, this device is my preferred mode for absorbing content. Even sharing information through Instapaper or Diigo is pretty slick.

Fairly simple web based tasks such as checking my staff’s workshop requests or looking up a parent’s phone number in our school’s student information system is a cinch.

My significant, daily tasks work well too. Checking out my calendar and editing it is as simple as iCal on my Mac. Productivity software such as Evernote and Things is powerful on the iPad as well.

Perhaps my biggest frustration with my laptop is the battery life. Try to get through an entire day of workshops with a MacBook Pro…it just isn’t going to happen. However, the iPad’s strong battery power and light weight makes it the perfect workshop companion.

I have a feeling that the iPad will push me to try new applications that I wouldn’t necessarily try otherwise. On the advice from a Principal colleague, I downloaded Mindo, a mind mapping software application that I will be trying out as I plan for the upcoming year.

WHERE THE IPAD IS LACKING
Admittedly, I have not completely acclimated to the iPad’s on screen keyboard, but if I am looking for large input of data, I long for my laptop. The speed and accuracy on the “Pad” is just not adequate yet, and as I write this post on my iPad’s WordPress blogging app, my typing is hardly keeping up with my thoughts especially as I go back to correct errors.

The double click feature on the new iOS helps, but multi tasking cannot compete with my laptop. My gut is that I will become more proficient on this over time.

EARLY RETURNS
In the words of a well known football coach Dennis Green, “they are what they thought they were”. While Apple is working hard to convince us otherwise, based on users’ passions, the iPad is an amazing output device and not as facile as a creation machine. That’s ok. Working in tandem with my laptop, the iPad will increase both creativity and productivity in my administration life.

Next up, I’ll add to the growing blog posts out there reviewing my favorite apps for the iPad. I think I’ll write the next post on my laptop though.

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