With the proliferation of mobile devices, learning no longer has to happen in a classroom or even in a home office. Learning can happen wherever you are (Bonk, 2009).
iPad to the Rescue!
In my Master’s education adventures, my iPad has been very handy. My little tablet computer can do most of the things I can do with my laptop.
Last January, I took a trip out to visit some relatives in another state. I was just going for a few days and not checking any baggage, so my laptop would have been terribly awkward. My iPad, though, fit very nicely inside my bags, and while I was out there, I was able to continue interacting with my classes on the Walden forum. In fact, I did some of my classwork sitting in the airport waiting for my flight.
More recently, a very confused technician disconnected my internet connection while hooking up my new neighbor. This complicated things because, as usual, I was eyeball deep in a class. If that weren’t enough, I was scheduled to work the next couple days, but I had to be home when the technician came out to fix the problem. A couple years ago, I would have needed to pack up my laptop and head to some location with public wi-fi. A couple years before that, I would have had to find a friend with an internet connection and a computer I could use for a couple days at weird hours of the day or night.
Instead, I was able to use my iPad to access Walden’s site via a cellular link and take care of some of my class chores like readings and posting to the forum.
Except When …
Unfortunately, as handy as my iPad is, it’s not the perfect replacement for my bigger computer. Writing a paper to submit for class is not feasible on my iPad. The APA formatting requirements just don’t fly on the couple of word processor programs I’ve downloaded. When I visited my relatives, I had to spend a couple weeks getting ahead of the papers for class so I wouldn’t miss deadlines. When the internet connection went down, I had to scramble like mad to get a paper done as soon as the connection was back up.
Another complication is the Walden forum itself. For some odd reason, I can access the forum, and I can even post to the forum, but I can’t see what I’m typing until after I’ve finished. When I start typing, the screen zooms back up to the top even though the typing is going on in the window below. I can scroll down and see what I wrote, but as soon as I start typing again, the page zooms back to the top. Awkward, but fortunately, I’m a touch-typist, and I’ve gotten fairly adept on the iPad’s virtual keyboard. I still have corrections to make, but not too many.
The Walden videos in my class reading list don’t play, either, but I can call up the transcript, so that’s a functional workaround.
Yay for iPads!
Tablets like the iPad are handy for many things. They still have their limitations, but in a pinch, they can be handy for learning … if you can avoid playing silly games on them for a while, that is.
Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.