Monday, August 22, 2011

We're back!

Yes, I realize it has been roughly 8 months since I posted anything to this blog...but that certainly doesn't mean we haven't been busy.  We continue to write informative little pieces on the 'iPad experiment' and are actually digging a little deeper into the data in an effort to write something for an academic journal.  In the meantime, here's a little reading assignment

On a more interesting front, tomorrow I kick off my Project Management course - the same one we did last year with the iPads. I'm sure this is going to strike a blow to the legions of Apple followers who have taken me in as one of their own over the past year, but we are going to be using Samsung GalaxyTab 10.1 devices with the Android Honeycomb operating system this fall.  Begin the chorus of boos from the Apple fans.... Listen, I love the iPad...but in my limited time with the GalaxyTab I'm starting to love it too!  Having a competitive product in this marketplace can do nothing but improve both devices and I'm all for variety.  I should be clear that we are not doing a comparison study: we are just evaluating the pros/cons of tablets in higher education.  While inevitably there are likely to be some comparisons, our intent is not to 'choose' or even 'endorse' a single device.  Much more to come... 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Finally, some results...

Yes, I realize it has been forever since I posted anything... I do have an excuse though.  My wife gave birth to Gianna (Gia) on Dec 6th and managing her and our other two kids during the holidays has been consuming most of my time.  With the help of a fantastic research assistant (thanks Emily!) I was able to pull together a final report on our findings.  Rather than regurgitate it all here, please follow this link...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The final exam

The inaugural Project Management "Teaching with the iPad" has now come to an end.  I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately but I've been spending a lot of time grading and preparing some reports for the research portion of this class.  All but of few of the students have returned their iPads (yea, there were some students we had to wrestle them away from) and we are in the process of conducting focus groups with the students and writing up our findings.  We completed our 3rd survey last week and decided to launch a 4th and final survey in a couple weeks.  That survey will be kind of a post-mortem after the students have had a chance to readjust to being without the iPads. 

I should have some of the results ready next week, so please check back then.  The one thing I wanted to comment on was the final exam.  My final has always been taken using laptops or desktop computers when I'm teaching in one of the computer lab rooms.  It is an essay-type exam and typically results in 3-5 pages of typed material.  I was not teaching in a computer lab this semester so I told the students they could use laptops or their iPads.  Of the 40 students in my class, 39 used laptops and 1 used an iPad.  When I asked them why, there were 2 primary reasons.  First, the students said they didn't mind taking notes during class using the iPads but they were concerned they couldn't type fast enough and would make too many errors if they used the iPad.  Second, some students (even the ones who used external keyboards) said they were a little concerned about 'Saving' the file since there isn't an option to save your work.  A couple students also mentioned that the folder structure makes it sometimes difficult to find files.  Another student said it was too difficult to incorporate a drawing into a text program (none of them purchased the Apple wordprocesser App).  The bottom line was that they wanted to minimize risk and therefore decided to go with what they knew best.

Monday, October 4, 2010

No laps for warm laptops; skin damage is possible

So the next time I get a 'raised eyebrow' look when I note that the iPad doesn't heat up (as opposed to my laptop which absolutely cooks my thighs), I'm going to cheerfully refer the skeptics to this link

Friday, October 1, 2010

How an entire afternoon could have been saved if I just would have thought to use my iPad first!

This is a comment I received from a student.

As you know, it's big consulting interview week. So, on Monday I ventured out to get the book, "Case in Point" which [student N] has been using and he said he got it at Barnes and Noble. I looked in our ND bookstore, Barnes AND Borders, wasted about 3 hours of my life driving around and getting side tracked at the various bookstores only to come back with nothing. (Of course every other management major scooped them up weeks ago...) and then...3 days later on a Thursday night and hours before my 2nd round with [big consulting firm], it hit me! Eureka! The iPad! I quickly downloaded the ebook within seconds and am accessing it through Kindle. Why didn't I think of it the idea becomes more common, ebooks and ereaders will save the world so much time, energy, and hassle!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Student comment

"As much as I struggle with the iPad sometimes, it has opened me up to a whole new way of doing things that I never would have even considered unless I was in your class. I really would be interested in seeing how it can be used in a class a year from now after more companies have developed applications and the textbook companies work out the little kinks. If it can do this much within a year of its launch, I can't even imagine what it will be doing then."

The iPad is intended to replace the laptop or iPhone. I think not.

I find it interesting that I often get asked, "so will the iPad replace laptops?"  I'm not really sure why some people think that the iPad was designed to replace laptops, or smart phones for that matter.  I personally don't think optimal performance can be achieved in a single device (let's call it a form-factor) for the vast array of computing functions we as a society need.  While I was driving home last night I was thinking about multi-functional devices and how in most cases a set of single-function devices almost always outperforms the multi-function device that is intended to replace it.  In most cases, something has to suffer in order to provide the additional functionality.  Sure, a riding lawn mower can mow the lawn and an attachment can be added to plow snow in the winter, but there are disadvantages to this multi-functional device as well such as size, cost, and mobility.  Any good carpenter will tell you that a single function device (what they call 'the right tool for the right job') is infinitely better than devices that try to do too much.  All this brings me back to the iPad.  Do we really want it to have the ability to make cell phone calls?  I can tell you that I definitely do not.  It adds unneccessary complexity and my smartphone is the correct form-factor for making calls.  Do I want the iPad to replace my laptop (even though it is a PC), no I don't.  The file structure, computing power, storage, screen size, etc. are the correct form-factor for doing research and writing papers and many other tasks that make up a big chunk of my life.  Do I think the iPad is convenient, fast, useful, highly-mobile, and incredibly efficient?  Absolutely!  Therefore, I ultimately think I'm going to be a three-form-factor person and I'm pretty comfortable with that. 

Ok, so here's the 'however'. However, even though I'm happy with 3 form-factors, what I see emerging is that my primary computing device (ex: PC or Mac) becomes in a sense my central computer - almost akin to the mainframe of old. This central computer allows my other form-factors to interact seamlessly with it. In addition to the central computer, I will also use 'cloud computing' in the form of storage and processing power through such services as Dropbox, Evernote,, and lots of other Software as a Service (Saas) applications, depending upon the function I need at that very moment. The interesting piece of this is that there would be overlapping features and functions between form-factors but it would be context specific, location specific, form-factor specific, and function specific and ease of use, usefulness, and convenience are likely to drive the decision on which device is used.