The iPad does not really present much in the way of new technology, and I had a difficult time understanding some of the comments in Joshua Boydston's "iPad U" article (Oct. 6, Gazette). Boydston describes it as being part smartphone and part laptop, both inventions that already exist.
Kathryn Steele, an expository writing professor at the University of Oklahoma, says we used to read using print and now we learn by reading screens? I've seen the iPad: The screen is full of print, the same text that one sees in books. Steele also complains about how students text during class and lack the discipline to stay focused.
Much of what is available through the wireless world is entertainment-based, and carrying an iPad to class is more accurately compared to carrying a television to class. Advertisers have convinced a whole generation that they are entitled to use personal communication wherever they go. I constantly see employees at stores and other places where they work in front of the public having conversations and texting their friends with their phones. Don't professors and employers deserve undivided attention?
I have a hard time understanding what Oklahoma State University's "School of Media and Strategic Communications" teaches, and I disagree with visiting assistant professor Bill Handy who claims that he spends less time using his personal computer now that he has the iPad. Since the iPad is a personal computer, this cannot be an honest claim.
I have no problem understanding what is meant by integrating technology. Thirty years ago, I had a home computer that took plug-in software cartridges. It came with a book about how to write programs in BASIC, an easy and versatile programming language. It was an amazing way to connect with technology: I was the author and my computer read what I wrote. I said "jump" and it said "how high?" Now computers are much more powerful and advanced, but there is no role for me. Now I am merely the lackey that loads software so that I can run my new digital camera.
I actually use a computer all the time for school. I attend an online university (Walden University) where I am finishing a master's degree in psychology. I always buy textbooks because I want to have a professional library. I am not interested in "renting" textbook access that expires at the end of my class. If I download text and journal articles from the online library, will I be able to archive it? Will the storage medium be safe or will it be obsolete and leave me with no record of my work? If I am taking notes and doing tests on my iPad and the power cuts off, the drive locks up or the antenna bars disappear, will I flunk out of class?
I use the computer for my classes as well as the Internet. I have to back up things and allow extra time for computer shortcomings. Contrary to Handy's claim that the age of print is over, it simply continues on a blinking little screen, and people are now prevented from reading their print when the battery is low or their signal is weak.
Using the "iToy" in classrooms is just a way of pandering to people who grew up playing with electronic toys their whole life and think that somehow this is a revolution over other learning methods.
"Louis G. Hommel