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.