Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Ipad has been great for College Outdoors field trips, though I'm learning the limitations.  Usually, anywhere I want to use it while on a trip, there is no WiFi, so I can't depend on any applications that need WiFi to operate.

On the plus side, the size is great.  It is much lighter in weight than a laptop computer, and fits into a daypack easily.  It has been really useful for videotaping student leader presentations on a trip, so the student leaders can review how they presented a talk to the rest of the participants.

I managed to get a waterproof case for the Ipad, and have gingerly used it on one flatwater kayaking trip so far.  This waterproof case isn't particularly solid-  if it's not handled with care, it could spring a leak or get torn-  but it has keep the Ipad dry to this point.  I just haven't found any case that is waterproof and is really solidly made, for Ipads, yet.

The Ipad has been really useful for taking field notes and writing post trip reports while riding in a vehicle, coming back from a trip.   I'm getting used to the on-screen keyboard and making fewer and fewer typos, even on bumpy roads.  This has been a real time-saver, compared to typing notes up once I'm back on campus.

The Ipad has allowed me to put together a collection of photos of common rocks and minerals, and common plants and trees, that I'd like our student leaders to know as part of their baseline knowledge as an outdoor guide.  As fall progresses, I'm hoping we can develop an in-house guide to the local fungi and lichens commonly encountered on College Outdoors trips.

The on-line field guides for plants and trees that I've seen are (so far) somewhat disappointing-  the paper versions are superior at this point-  but I expect as these apps develop, they'll become more useful. 

I was hoping by now the Ipad could just be pointed at a plant, and using pattern recognition software, the Ipad would be able to identify the plant for me.  Well, no luck with that-  this ability is probably going to be years in the future.

I will have to say the Ornithology app (IBirdPro) and astronomy app (Star Walk) have been very impressive, and useful to have on field trips, especially for as little as they cost.  It has also been a very dry fall, which makes taking the Ipad out in the field all the easier!

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