My four-year-old son likes to play a game in which he is a poor orphan and we are prospective parents. After a brief interview, we decide that yes, he is exactly the son for us. Familial bonding ensues.
Much like adopting a child that was yours to begin with, the iPad makes a seamless entrance into one’s life. Its size, its usability,and its speed make it an easy companion, much like that little orphan boy who keeps hanging around. Unlike the little boy, the iPad provides prompt service when asked, and seldom talks back.
Here’s what you can do on the iPad:
- Go Online
- Draw or Paint
- Play Games
- Take pictures and video
- Organize and share pictures and video
- Watch shows and movies
- Listen to music
- Download apps- which basically means the answer to the question above is “anything you could possibly want to do”.
Here’s what it’s not good at:
- Printing (unless you have a special set-up)
- Organizing files and documents (but there are apps and work-arounds to address that)
The top reason the iPad is so popular is its usability. This device is profoundly intuitive. The touch-screen interface itself is a big leap forward for mankind- it takes the middle men of mice and keyboards out of the picture, and lets you act directly upon the machine. We humans really are still a primitive, tactile bunch so I think feeling like you are doing something with your hands holds a very deep appeal.
There is a complete overload of studies and articles about uses of iPads in education- elementary and up. My technical analysis for you is this: everyone is totally into them. Reed College did a study of Kindles in the classroom and found them lacking. They did a similar study of iPads and ended by saying EVERY single student who participated bought one at the end of the year. Enough said?
At first I was sure I could never read on it, but I got over that very quickly- I use Kindle apps, so can read my books pretty much everywhere, and the iPad was always just THERE- so of course that’s where I do a lot of my reading now. Still not crazy about reading on an LCD, but if the choice is reading on the iPad, or walking upstairs to get the Kindle… well.. you know how it is.
The only real downside I’m seeing to the iPad is that it is truly a personal device. It needs to be “yours” to get full use out of it. It doesn’t allow set-up for multiple users, and trying to share one is a very quick way to sow family (or departmental) discord. But at $500 a pop this is not an easy “chicken in every pot” scenario.
So that’s my two cents, see our page for recommended set-up and apps here.
– Asha Kinney