Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thoughts about iPads and School Libraries

Don't get me wrong, I love everything about the iPad I have, including that it is mine to add to -- my books, my apps, etc.  It is mine for capturing photos, checking the internet when I am in a wi-fi environment or I tether it to my phone (it becomes a personal hotspot or "router" for the iPad), and I can take notes ... although not in the range of formats or with the same speed as I can when I use my laptop.  In this role, I think it suffices but I prefer my laptop.  I love the fact that I was forced to take Typing in high school ... I think and compose and edit at about the same speed as I input.

Anyone finding greater value in having iPads in school libraries than laptops?  I have been fairly adamant that we need laptops, not iPads, at least at first.  My sense of things, certainly for us in secondary schools, is that we need "production" devices, not "consumer" devices.  While production is possible in the iPad/tablet mode, I think it is terribly constrained.  You need retrieval and processing apps, some of which cost money (one problem with the iPad) as the student personalizes his/her learning, and all of which are "lost" when device is wiped.

Also, your views please on keyboarding:  Is it a dying requirement?  Are we down to poking and thumbing?  Or should we be supporting our students' capacities to "think and write" with keyboarding in the digital environment?

The market for and resources for e-reading are limited to Google Books, Project Gutenberg, and other online FREE resources until we acquire either a platform like the expensive and cumbersome Overdrive and various titles or a subscription collection like Orca's.  I also think iPads and similar devices are "personal" and do not appeal to those who like to personalize (that is, download info and apps) but then have to return the device.

And is it just me or do our students seem delighted with the reading of print materials that are engaging, not new titles, graphic novels, Guinness Books, etc.?  While I strongly support the need to have reading resources for our reluctant ones and our iPad or device-driven programs, I am daily reminded of the students who simply love books.

Your views please?  I haven't found any TL who answers they would rather have iPads than laptops, at least as the initial workhorse device. 

I am hoping I am not behind the times when I stand up to my colleagues who have insisted I need android and iPad devices!  Nice to have the choice but I simply think they don't understand what we do in the school library / learning commons.  Or is such thinking simply sacrilege in our new focus on and drive for 21st Century Learning?  Who else is asking the questions?

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