iPad

Ok.  I joined the masses flocking to the iPad yesterday.  I have spent much of my available time playing with it and dreaming up good curricular uses for the device.  With my library hat on, I immediately jumped to looking at ebooks, newspapers and other online resources.  I was pleased with how easy it was to jump on to my library catalogue through Safari, check out an ebook and read it online.  Now, I’ve done this on my iPhone, but my eyes fingers thank Mr. Jobs and crew for the iPad’s bigger screen and on screen keyboard.  I found a ton of online newspaper and magazine apps that vary in purpose.  Some are to encourage you to buy a subscription by providing minimal free content, some are simply to be used as an online reader for paid subscribers and others offer free access to many of the world’s newspapers.  My current favourite is NewspaperPad.  For $5 you can read hundreds of newspapers from around the word in English and in the country’s native languages.  What a great assignment for a French class to keep up to date with the Haitian relief effort by reading Haitian newspapers in French.  Great practice of the language and a local view of what is really happening on the ground!

I’m a fan of Kobo (the ebook reader for the Chapters/Indigo book store chain in Canada).  I read Yann Martel’s latest novel on Kobo on my iPhone.  It was actually a pleasant reading experience despite the small screen.  The iPad makes it even better.  I like Apple’s iBook except for the fact that, as a Canadian, I cannot actually purchase anything!  Only free content is available north of the 49th parallel!  Hurry!!!!!

As a music teacher, most of my time has been spent playing with the apps that I’ve dumped over from my iPhone.  My favourite app for music is Peterson’s iStroboSoft.  Peterson is a company that has been making Strobe Tuners for decades and I don’t walk into any rehearsal now without my iPhone and iStroboSoft.  It is extremely sensitive to pitch fluctuation and is clear to read.  The app is not iPad ready, but I can already see it becoming more useful on the iPad than on the iPhone.  Many apps that work on your iPhone also work on the iPad.  If they have not been adapted for the iPad, they usually boot in a smaller rectangle the same size as the iPhone.  With the tap of an icon at the bottom right corner of the screen, you can easily blow the image up to full iPad screen size.  I think that I will now be able to remain at the front of the room instead of stumbling through rows of student musicians to tune individuals.  They can now see the image clearly enough from across the room.  If I’m really desperate, I can plug my projector cable in and project the image on to a screen at the front of the room for a REALLY BIG TUNER!

General productivity apps like iWork and Documents to Go allow for work on text, spreadsheet and presentation projects on the comfort of the smaller screen.  You can easily project Powerpoint and Keynote presentations directly from the iPad.  My one complaint is that transferring files from iWork back to my Mac is not as intuitive as I would expect.

I will be distracted from the fun this weekend as I have report cards to write, but no doubt, at least some of these will be done on the iPad.

I would love to know what apps others have found for the iPad that have potential application to the classroom.  I’m particularly interested in music and library applications but anything and everything is welcome.  If I can’t use the information, I will certainly pass it on to colleagues who will.

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