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Back to May 2012 Newsletter

Learning New Technology: The iPad

by Maureen Scoones

All new technology takes a little getting used to and the iPad is no exception. Recently, I sat down with three new iPad users to learn about about the trials and tribulations of learning new technology.

Frank Sciacca, Associate Professor of German and Russian Languages and Literatures, needed to upgrade the 10 year old technology in his house.  That, coupled with some peer encouragement, led him to his iPad purchase. After a short time of use, Frank reports, "my life has been transformed." Frank also now "brakes" for pierogi, but more about that a little later.

Lydia Hamessley, Professor of Music, needed a keyboard for her technology and film course. She used the virtual iPad piano keyboard (it's a whole piano) to play movie theme songs for her students.  I didn't know, until I saw and heard Lydia play the virtual keyboard, that it was actually possible to play with two hands (you've heard of one finger typists, I'm the one finger piano player) and it sounded like a real piano!

Lynn Mayo, Reference Librarian and Coordinator of Electronic Resources, uses her iPad to keep up with all types of reading.  She says, "Hell for me for is not having something to read and the iPad delivers! My NYT, the latest New Yorker issue, and a Kindle book." 

The Learning Process

The three are learning about these devices as "a small congenial group." Frank had all but given up on using the apostrophe because it was cumbersome to change virtual keyboards. One day, Lynn read a blog posting indicating if one drags up on the comma, an apostrophe appears. The apostrophe is once again in Frank's life and writings.

All agree that the device takes some getting used to. They found that a free game Draw Something was not only entertaining, but also helped each of them improve their touch techniques and overall comfort level with the device (see pictures to the right).

They note the virtual keyboard takes some getting used to as well, and report the same annoyances with autocorrect they experience with their iPhones.

Discoveries

Although Frank's original motivation to purchase an iPad was personal in nature, he is discovering the device's portability and built in high resolution camera are very helpful to him as he works on an upcoming presentation, hence why he is braking every time he sees a sign mentioning pierogi. Upon sighting one, he takes out his iPad and captures a picture and notes. For all of them, their use of the iPad is in its infancy, but the possibilities seem endless.

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Favorite Apps

The apps they like run the gamut from games (Words with Friends is a little too cut-throat for Frank) to news (e.g. the NPR app).  Lydia is trying out the NAXOS app to access the NAXOS Music Library to which Hamilton subscribes. All are trying out various news reader and content aggregator apps. In addition to Readability, Lynn likes Flipboard, and Frank looks forward to trying the news reader app Zite.

The Future

Technology is changing faster than ever.  The first iPad was released in 2010 and has already been replaced by a second and third generation iPad! The apps market continues to grow on a daily basis with the options in the thousands.  How will ITS keep up? How will the users keep up?  The truth of the matter is, we can't and you can't. Sharing our uses, socializing, and learning in "small congenial group[s]" is a great way to learn new technology. Upon leaving our lunch, Lydia said, "I'll see you online!" It's hard to remember that there was a time we communicated without email, cell phones, texting, etc.