Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thank You, Santa!

Santa was very good to me this year.  He (and hubby) stuffed my stocking with an iPad!  I had absolutely no expectation of receiving this gift -- our agreed-upon Christmas gift budget didn't extend into that realm.  But since the Kindle Fire came out in mid-November, I had been thinking out loud about the relative merits of the Kindle Fire vs. the iPad as a potential aid to an itinerant teacher.  I eventually decided that the iPad would be worth the extra money.  After I opened my present, hubby noted that he came to this conclusion a lot earlier than I did!

thanks to David B. Spalding
I don't have a smartphone.  Indeed, my cell phone is a "Star Trek Communicator" model, vintage 2003 or so.

For a while, I had a nice, light Asus Eee netbook.  It was easy to slip into my case, or even my purse, and it allowed me to keep up with email between classes at the library (thanks to free wifi, yeah!).  Its screen was too small to do much other than that and it was kind of slow, to boot.  But it sufficed until The Meltdown. That's when I started hauling my heavy laptop to and fro.  Not good.  First, if something happened to it, it would cost a lot to replace.  Second, my back has been paying the price, ouch! So, now I can check email on the iPad. Hubby included a wireless keyboard in the gift package, so I can also do serious typing when necessary.

In what other ways might this gadget be of assistance to a roving ESL teacher who works in makeshift classrooms?  I have some ideas. For example, students who have smartphones share personal photos with each other (student-provided input). They also use them as multi-lingual dictionaries and for reference (making input comprehensible).  Recently, a student was talking about a favorite meal from his home in Puerto Rico and he looked up a picture of a conch shell and passed it around.  I can use the iPad in the same way.  Since its screen is bigger, maybe I can share without passing it around. I'm also planning to hook the iPad up to a cheesy old TV and use it as a poor man's (lady's?) IWB. I've done this with my laptop and it was very useful.  YouTube alone was worth the price of the S-cable! I had to buy another cable for the iPad. Sure hope it works, because it set me back 50 bucks!

Of course, there is a lot more that could be done.  Rather than surf up the Top 500 Ways You Can Use Your Gadget in Class, I'd like to identify needs and then see if "there's an app for that".  I'd really like to avoid AASS (Apps for Apps' Sake Syndrome)!

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