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His Name is Pedro, and We’re in Love.

Last Wednesday, I attended a workshop.  Nay, I witnessed my life change right before my eyes.  It was then that I met… Pedro.

Pedro is my new iPad.  Okay, so I am totally a gadget geek.  I am not ashamed.  I know what I am and I embrace this part of me.  Okay, it’s pretty much all of me.  People can say what they want about iPads.  Mine is only a 16 GB wifi model, but it’s MY iPad.  And I love it.  I tell everyone that I am looking into its potential for use in the education setting.  But I also make no secret of the new relationship I have developed with Pedro, Netflix, and the entire first season of Bones.  Maybe I should be ashamed.  But I’m not.

I won’t use the phrase “game changer” because, frankly, I think that is a dumb over-used cliché already, and honey, I’m not playin’ no game.  Okay.  Maybe a few rounds of Bubble Wrap iPhone version at 2x size (which is stinkin’ awesome, by the way).  Oh, and some Mahjong.  But just to make up for the games and video watching, I also wrote an entire article in Pages yesterday on Pedro.  And I have Keynote too, so I am planning to do some presenting with him too.

Yes, I name my gadgets.  Well, really, my Apple products.  My first MacBook was Madeline. (Hubby has her now.)  My iPhone is Iggy.  I just realized that I never named my new iPod Nano.  I need to do that when I finish writing this blog.

I had a point.  What was it?  Oh! I know!

Me and Pedro, with my envious friend in the backgroundPedro is awesome.  I think that’s my point.  Where do I see this going for use with students?  Well, I found an app with over 20,000 books and another one that’s the complete works of Shakespeare.  My husband and I both have iPhones.  They’re 8 GB 3G versions, and we use them for e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and various other apps.  Hubby works outdoors, so he checks the Weather Channel app several times a day for the different parts of town where he works.  I use my camera far more than he uses his.  He uses the iPod feature, for music and podcasts, more than I use it on mine. We both rely on the calendar (along with our MobileMe family account) to keep our busy lives in order. 

So I asked him what he thought of the iPad.  He loves it, but he sees it as being a gimmick for the time being.  It’s bigger than the iPhone, and of course lacks the 3G and phone capabilities.  We’ve both used it with Netflix and YouTube, and there’s no denying it’s a great way to watch videos.  I would like to see this functionality spread to textbooks with interactive simulations and demos, and I hope the publishers move in this direction.  I would also like to see a wider range of productivity apps designed for iPad.  Having editable Google Docs on the iPad would quell a good number of my concerns.

Any iPad-specific app I’ve seen (where there is also a separate iPhone version) had a new layer of sophistication on the big screen.  But most iPhone-only apps run well and look quite good on the iPad as well.  And that’s a good thing for me, because I have a lot of apps on my iPhone, and I like having them on the iPad too.  If app development for iPad takes off the way it did for iPhone, and the education arena can really get behind this whole enterprise, I see great things coming to pass.

But I can’t help but thinking that the way to really make the iPad a phenomenal student tool is to get teachers more involved in changing the way they teach, deliver content, and assess student learning.  I just finished writing an article in my series on ISTE’s NETS*T, which are educational technology standards for teachers.  The crux of the story is that teachers need to embrace new ways of doing our jobs so that students will emulate our enthusiasm and confidence and apply it to their own learning.

Here’s an example.  I make videos for my students.  When we’re learning how to make videos, I make videos to teach them different elements of the projects.  They like it, I have fun, it’s a win-win.  If I knew that each of them had their own handheld devices (with decent-sized screens) on which to watch my videos, I would make videos for every project.  I’d be unstoppable.  Their improved, increased access to my learning materials would motivate me as an educator to change my approach to my work.  And since that’s the kind of total paradigm shift we need in teaching and education today, I’m all for gimmicks like the iPad.  Even if it means I have to call it a game-changer.

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