Production and consumption and more about the iPad

As I’m easing back into the real swing of things, I’ve been thinking more about technology, teaching, etc. A while back, I wrote about some of the limitations of the iPad. Those still stand and then some. I’m writing this on the iPad right now. It’s still more cumbersome than doing it on my laptop. I took the iPad to India with me in order to maintain a blog. To do so, I needed an attachment in order to upload photos from my camera. Yes, you can take photos with the iPad but no one is going to carry an iPad around while touring, and even under the best circumstances, it’s awkward to take photos with it. To upload my photos to Flickr, I had to download another app. It took me a while to find the right one (Flickr stacker, ftw), and I paid for it. With a laptop, I wouldn’t need an extra attachment or an extra app. I already pay for Flickr pro, so it’s not necessary to pay for anything else. Adding pictures to my posts was somewhat painful, and to align them, I had to edit HTML, on the iPad. Ouch. On my laptop, I get the alignment options as I upload or I can change them through a GUI interface. And forget adding or removing widgets on the blog via an iPad. No drag and drop.

Producing anything on the iPad is a challenge. I have yet to use an app that makes creating anything, even just a document, as simple as it is on a computer. Feel free to correct me.

Consuming on the iPad is cake, and I actually prefer it to my laptop, though I know I could add an extension or two and probably be just as happy with consuming on it. I read twitter, google reader, google plus, and various news sources all on the iPad, all in one place. I also read books through different ebook apps. While they’re not perfect (I wish I could share more easily with multiple steams, for example), they work well enough.

Many, many schools are adopting iPads, including my own. There are some cool things one can do on the iPad, and I’m sure more cool things will be developed, but I don’t want us to fall into the trap of thinking that they will solve all of our problems or that they’re “better” than other computing devices. I’ve seen calls of late on the blogs to use the “maker” mentality in education, even the “hacker” mentality. Well, then don’t use an iPad. There’s nothing there to hack. There’s nothing to make on it in the same way one can with some components and a computer. I think we’re contradicting ourselves by saying we want to create producers not consumers and then we hand them an iPad. You can, indeed, produce on the iPad, but you’re going to hit a limit pretty quickly. Personally, I don’t want to put limits on what I can teach kids to create.

7 Replies to “Production and consumption and more about the iPad”

  1. Balanced & well-reasoned post, Laura. Thanks.

    It’s not the nouns, folks, it’s the verbs. Let’s focus on the doing, not the stuff.

  2. This is a really useful distinction, I think–I want to teach my students how to be creative producers, not just consumers.

  3. I agree about the painfulness of blogging on the iPad. I use smugmug for photos & typepad for my blog, and they just don’t work together. In fact, I believe typepad actually doesn’t work on my ipad (using the browser). I can post using the typepad app, but that gives me no control over formatting the pictures, and requires that I upload the pictures to typepad, not use the linked files that bring people back to my smugmug account.

    (I think you don’t use typepad, but with typepad, I think blogging on the ipad is near impossible, and would like to hear from someone if I’m missing something).

    That being said, my kids have been using the iPad to make a stop motion movie, using playmobil toys, and that does seem to work on the iPad, better, I think, than it would on a computer, for their purposes. And, if the laptop doesn’t have a flipped camera (i.e. for taking pictures of what’s out there, rather than the person looking at the screen), the iPad might actually work better. You could tether a camera, but that would be more complicated (and wouldn’t work for kids as well).

  4. bj, I use wordpress, for which there is an app. I tried using just the web site and it didn’t work. The app is okay, but it’s mostly an html editor. I agree about the laptop/camera combo. Making video is a bit easier on the iPad, at least for going easily from shooting to editing.

  5. I recently borrowed and iPad for work and it wasn’t what I was expecting over the week that I had it. I found simple things that were missing that I would normally take for granted on my netbook although I realised that with the proper apps from the store I could eventually set it up to do 90% of what I wanted.

    It is a great learning tool however. Definitely worth a look for education.

  6. I’m reading this post on my laptop, b/c reading blogs is one thing I haven’t quite figured out on the ipad–what RSS app do you like? The ones I’ve used don’t seem to work out well (although that could be my disorganized approach to google reader, where I don’t quite prioritize my folders in the way that matches my reading).

    I love the ipad when I travel for business. Taking notes works well enough, and I no longer lose the papers when I get back to my office. But writing much of anything else? I turn to the laptop (or write by hand).

  7. Susan,

    I use flipboard, which allows you to pull in reader, twitter, Facebook, and more. You can read everything separately or mushed together. It’s one thing I really like on the iPad.

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