Exploring the iPad for use in Higher Education

The iPad is often touted as a revolutionary new means of computing, but what exactly does that mean?

How does one explore the capabilities of a device which changes with the apps which may be loaded?

Should we be exploring the iPad as a device? Or, should we explore the educational experiences which might be possible though the Apps which are available?

How can we explore the device, if we do not have the funding to explore promising applications? This is like learning to use a microwave/convection oven without having funding to by the elements required to cook a meal or develop a new recipe. Exploring free resources can be beneficial and lead to rewarding results, but all too often, quality apps require time and funding to develop and may not be able to be shared freely.

Further, should we rely on the applications which are available or should we in fact be developing our own, and in the process, defining what the iPad or the "iPad experience" might be (possibly for our own or our students' needs). Perhaps this is not a unique idea. The history of modern education has relied upon the use of textbooks, but when scholars and researchers who teach cannot find the textbooks or resources to convey ideas, they write or create their own. So it might be with resources for the iPad or other digital devices. The lamentation for resources which are applicable for higher education might just be the canary in the coal mine which identifies not only the need for resources, but the need for educators to develop new "literary skills" to create the learning opportunities which these new devices just might afford.

Consider an interview and behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the his ebook, The Elements: A Visual Exploration. Consider how he has developed a resource which uses the iPad's multiple touch feature, 3D imagery, and the ability to incorporate real-time information, such as his example of linking to the current price of gold.

So, should the iPad be seen as a consumption device? Or, are their unique opportunities to use this as a tool for the creation of knowledge? Should the iPad (of 2010) be explored with the knowledge that it is the first generation of a device of its type? Should we acknowledge the iPad as a learning experience in its' own right and identify means to improve functionality and learning opportunities?

What do you think? What can you contribute? Let's learn together.
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Haiku and Digital Storytelling

Image by Frida Eyjolfs


Yesterday, Narrative Magazine invited submissions to the second annual Haiku contest for a poem incorporating the theme of the fall season. (http://www.narrativemagazine.com/node/58211). This 5-7-5-syllable form of writing once again tugged at me to visualize

Waterfowl swimming

through gray rocks and rising fog

rise in autumn flight.

Today, the muse continues to dance and I wrote “Autumn Morning”:

Clear blue autumn sky:
Light shining through golden trees
Illuminates me.

The form of Haiku causes me to visualize what I’m trying to convey and takes me to a place of deep reflection; familiar and hallowed ground to one who is engaged in the power digital storytelling. Like Haiku poetry, my digital stories (example) are an attempt to explore my own personal narrative, ask myself truthful and sometimes painful questions in hope that the process will reveal deeper meaning to my own experiences. Both Haiku and digital storytelling require deep reflection and both transform everyday writing into new forms; one might even argue, new languages.

Like Haiku poetry, digital storytelling is a distillation process. Both can use words to create mental pictures and convey story. However, digital storytelling is empowered by the language of images, sounds, transitions, timing and metaphor to convey meaning. It may in fact be approaching story from a 180 degree direction.

If there is a parallel in the reflective process of these two mediums, how can one inform the other? Can the 5-7-5 structure of Haiku be used to more elegantly distill digital stories? I know it is true that the selection, order and delivery of images can convey different meaning. I know that the practice of telling a story with the limitation of 5 images has been widely explored. I am however unfamiliar with any exploration of limiting stories to the use and delivery of images in the 5-7-5 format. This begs me to explore the notion. I am wise enough at this point in my life to realize that new ideas are very rare and I’m sure that others have already journeyed down this path.

I’m taking my first steps.