Project Title: Evaluation Period

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Faculty iPad Pilot Program

Phase 1: Initial Evaluation (Spring 2011)
Faculty Name: _Ronald Kiener________ Department: _Religion____________
Project Title:
Evaluation Period: February 2011 – June 1, 2011
Based on your experience in this initial phase of the faculty iPad pilot program, please provide responses to the following questions:

  1. What were your initial classroom and/or research goals in working with the tablet device?

I wanted to see if the iPad would help with maintaining a portable, displayable library of course books; help in maintaining orderly portable e-lecture notes; and help keep attendance in large classes. I was looking for a small portable digital version of all the scattered sources I use in teaching a multimedia class.

  1. Were you successful in achieving these goals? Did you modify your objectives as you began to use the device?

I was able to accomplish all three goals, though not all were 100% satisfactory. The easiest to do was keeping attendance. The least successful was using the iPad as a platform for displaying Powerpoint presentations.

  1. What applications did you find to be useful? Were you able to use any of these applications in the classroom or laboratory? Describe what worked well and what did not work out as anticipated.

First, the apps that allowed synching with my Windows desktop were the most helpful. For cloud storage, I used Dropbox. After experimenting with Pages and Keynote, I found DocsToGo to be the best MS-Office-like solution. I used Attendance to keep attendance. I found 2Do to be an excellent task manager which synched nicely with Outlook and across to my iPhone. The App LogMeIn allowed me to view and use my office or home computer Windows PC from the iPad. Kindle and Coursesmart were essential for maintaining an electronic version of my coursebooks, which I could then display occasionally to the classs (but since this is an iPad 1, I had to jailbreak the device to get true mirror display (something that is available in the iPad 2 in native mode). For my specific research needs, it was very useful to have the apps Tanach (Hebrew-English Bible), TopDictionary Hebrew-English, TalmudBavli (the entire Talmud), QuranMajeed (an Arabic-English Qur’an), al-Mawrid (Arabic-English dictionary).

The best moodle app, mTouch, did not work very well. Or maybe my real problem is with the flakiness of Moodle.

  1. What technical problems/pitfalls did you encounter?

The 3 biggest problems were the absence of Flash compatibility, the absence of a USB port, and the inability to print. I solved the USB problem to some degree with the cloud storage and synching app Dropbox; printing with PrintCentral.

  1. Based on this early evaluation, what do you foresee as the future of tablet devices in the classroom or laboratory setting? Advantages? Limitations? Would you use the device again?

Until students join the tablet bandwagon (and they largely haven’t) the tablet form factor is moderately useful to an instructor alone. When it is more ubiquitous, I can foresee adding a classroom interactivity that currently is impossible. It will only get better with time.

I feel fairly certain that the tablet form factor will win out over the netbook form factor. As Android and eventually Win-based tablets emerge, there may develop a battle, but for now the iOS tablet reigns supreme, even with its quirky limitations. For the delivery of content-rich media, from newspapers to TV, the iPad shines. I found some very nice news aggregators and RSS feed collators, and I recommend Flipboard in particular.

One problem I had was extended typing on the glass keyboard, but I bought Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard and that problem was solved.

I foresee a continued usefulness for the iPad in my teaching and research.
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