First and foremost, I found that the iPad surpasses both smart phone and netbook technology in terms of being a portable, web-enabled device. It is powerful enough to take on major computing (Pages, Numbers, etc.) and small enough and quick enough (in terms of RAM) to be pulled out of my bag to schedule a meeting and answer an email all while walking across the quad AND balancing a cup of coffee in my other hand. Its true test as a device, however, was after the April 27th storms. I could watch James Spann, check weather satellite imagery (the VIPIR app) and, most of all, communicate with my students and colleagues – via eLearning, email, and Facebook — from anywhere and at any time. Although this level of connectivity is something that I don’t require in everyday life, these were extraordinary circumstances and the iPad delivered without fail.
As a person who enjoys tinkering/experimenting with various devices in order to figure them out, the iPad did not disappoint. It is great for visual learners, I think. Most of the apps I downloaded seemed to present an organizational sensibility that appealed not to textual logic but rather the logic of the image. In any case, I found using the iPad very intuitive.
As our graduate student test subjects determined, the iPad also holds great potential for creative activity. Sketching and photograph manipulation programs, among other apps, encourage the user to think beyond the confines of a single media area. Rather, she/he can understand the how creativity is fostered though interdisciplinarity (in this case, via a digital interface). Likewise, from an administrative standpoint, programs like iAnnotate, Evernote, Keynote, Kindle, and Dropbox make conducting class (distributing readings, taking and sharing notes, giving presentations, keeping blogs, etc.) much more efficient and, frankly, a little more fun.
-Lucy Curzon teaches Modern and Contemporary Art History as an Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama. Her research interests vary from investigating ideas of national identity, gender, and sexuality in painting and photography to focusing on the exploration of how Art History and Studio curricula could better communicate with one another through active and collaborative learning strategies and new forms of teaching technology. With regard to the latter, Curzon is currently focused on investigating the pedagogical value of collaborative social networking and other web-based media, for which she recently won a teaching grant to support her implementation of many of these ideas in large, lecture-based classrooms. Working with PI Dr. Brian Evans, she is also a faculty associate on an NSF-funded ‘CreativeIT’ project. Curzon received her PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester.