Friday, May 3, 2013

A last post to answer the question, "What have I learned about using an iPad to enhance the teaching and learning process?" Some quick takes.

(1) I discovered that the iPad in the classroom is not all that useful for me, given the fact that each classroom I use is equipped with its own computer and projection system. At this point, my use of technology in the classroom is satisfied by the latter resources, and the iPad ended up being mostly a cumbersome addition (which I set aside in the classroom fairly quickly). I had hoped to use a primary text program that we cannot load onto classroom computers easily, but the developers of that software have lagged in making it functional for the iPad.

(2) I did find the iPad enormously useful for consuming e-texts, whether they were articles or monographs available through Watzek -- a terrific development for academic work as far as I'm concerned -- or books I purchased in e-form. This resulted in me encouraging my students to consume texts in the same way, and I will continue to advocate that they develop electronic readerly habits. An argument I make is that having the text only in an evanescent form forces you as a reader to engage it fully enough that you won't require it in hand when called upon to reflect on it, critique it, and bring it to bear in critique and fresh, constructive discourse.

(3) I also found the iPad to be useful as a tool for managing my life as an academic -- a scholar, teacher, and occasional administrator. Thanks to Google calendar and the iPad's portability I now actually do have a calendar that is up-to-date and in hand throughout my day. Embarrassing as it is to admit it, it's an amazing improvement on my pre-iPad calendar management.

(4) The most significant learning I take from this experience -- and my occasionally obsessive reading of the sky-is-falling-on-the-liberal-arts-because-of-technology literature -- is that meeting the challenges and realizing the promise that new technologies pose for teaching and learning in higher education is going to take more time and savvy than I have had for the effort up to now. The harsh reality, as I see it, is that to meet those challenges and realize that promise, I am going to need to restructure how I use my time and energy to make room for that endeavor. And I suspect that this is not an elective for any of us going forward.

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