Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I'm skipping the iPad

As a professor on the lookout for new tools to help me effectively teach my students, I couldn't wait to see the new iPad.

I currently use an iPhone to check for emails from my students and respond to them.  I can also check in on my course management system (CMS) but, wow, is that clunky on an iPhone.  And I can't really make changes easily, either.  And keeping my Facebook pages for my blogs for students and professors up to date from my iPhone isn't ideal either.

When I first heard about the iPad, I thought it may be the solution I need for some of these functions I need:
  • An easy way to navigate through and use my CMS while away from campus (and away from hotspots), as when I'm at a conference or taking a weekend hike.

  • Use full-color e-books.  I absolutely love my Kindle . . . but being an anatomy and physiology professor (and author), the monochrome Kindle just won't cut it for my discipline.

  • Print the occasional document using a printer connected to my wireless network.

  • Multitask among my email client, my CMS, and other programs.

  • Allow me to use slide presentations, video, and other media on a large enough screen to share with students.  That includes my Flash-based lecture Previews.
But I'm realizing that the iPad won't help me much, if at all, with these needs.

Did you know that . . .
  • You can't print a document from an iPad
    • Huh?  That's a pretty basic function for a hand-held computer, I think.
  • You can't connect to a monitor or projector
    • So I can't show media to more than a couple of students at time during a help session away from my "smart" classroom.
  • You can't use Flash. 
    • WHAT?!  You read that correctly . . . iPad cannot access Flash-based websites, cannot display certain functions at other websites (the Flash-based features), cannot use the new Flash-based e-book readers . . . . the list is virtually endless.
  • The display isn't designed for reading.
    • Because it doesn't use e-ink (like the Kindle) or even OLED (organic light emitting diode) in the screen,  you're not going to have the same "easy on the eyes" experience of a dedicated e-book reader. I like to sometimes read for an hour more . . . but with the iPad, I think that may be difficult.
  • There is no optical drive and no USB connectivity
    • So if you want to watch or rip video or music media, you'll need a "real" computer.
    • Want to view or edit and save the slides on your thumb drive?  Forget it.
  • You cannot multitask.
    • No switching between open programs like you can on a "real" computer.
    • Oh, my.
Starting at $500, I can't see how the iPad is a solution for me . . . or for a lot of folks.

 I'd love to love an iPad.  I simply cannot.

Anybody out there have a different opinion to offer? 

{NOTE:  You may want to check out 10 Things Apple Doesn't Want You to Know About the iPad }