Friday, December 28, 2012

The iPad as Inter-Generational Bridge?

I had a quick musing to share about some potential benefits of the iPad to me as a teacher that I hadn't been thinking about until now. 

After taking the iPad-in-education survey, I felt bad about my answer to the very first question--whether the iPad has been helpful for my teaching and research.  Honestly, had the question not been required, I would have remained uncommitted at this early stage of my iPad career, when I'm still not (as I confessed in the last blog!) much of a power user.  But we were pressed for a crisp yes or no answer, so my "not yet, but I'm hopeful!" registered simply as "No."  But that was my best honest answer at the time.  For the reasons I wrote about in my last blog ("Not a P.C. ..."), the iPad has yet to contribute meaningfully to my teaching or research.  At least not in any obviously identifiable way.  At least not yet.

But even though it has not proved useful to me professionally in the ways I initially hoped, it is a fascinating and useful tool that I have enjoyed learning from.  And the more I thought about it, the more I wondered whether it may even be advancing my core academic missions in more indirect ways that I wasn't thinking of before now.  I can't help but wonder about the benefits I get just from using it, even when I think all I'm doing is playing around.  Might it be helping me access parts of the online world that would otherwise just be passing me by, in ways that are indirectly beneficial to me as a teacher and a researcher? 

After all, I'm one of those dinosaurs that never found a good enough reason to join Facebook!  But just by spending time interfacing with the tablet world and the parade of touchscreen-enabled apps, I can understand my students just a little better.  I can imagine just a little bit more clearly what their world is really like.  Now I am seeing my iPad as more than just a toy; more like a little intergenerational bridge.  And that's a useful teaching tool indeed.

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