Friday, December 16, 2011

From slates to iPads - a reflection

Recently I was discussing and showing the educational use of the iPad to some retired educators. We looked at some Apps that have really used the features of the iPad to transform learning.

One of the educators has a keen interest in music and we looked at the ability to play musical instruments on the iPad while also discussing the possibilities of using Apps to store, edit and scroll her sheet music.

Later she emailed me with her response to the use of the iPad. I was really struck with the things she said about the use of iPads, the changing use of technology over the years, the future possibilities and often the negative responses to the introduction of 'new technologies'. She agreed to share her reflection with us:

"The use of the iPad in learning really is fascinating, and it's definitely going to be a huge revolution in schools. I can see less discipline problems, more help for kids with learning and physical disabilites. (Will there possibly be a talking version or a braille version too for the blind?) I can see, too, it will free teachers up a lot, as they don't have to go and collect the books from the store room; they don't have to run to the photocopier all the time, they don't' have to book the electronic items that only one person can operate, etc.

It's amazing to think that, when I started school, I used a personal blackboard and chalk, rather than a paper notebook, then graduated to a pen dipped in ink (used with blotting paper for mopping up the ink splats we made, and for which we were rapped over the knuckles with the edge of a big wooden ruler). That's where that saying came from.

Even when biros came in, for years we were forbidden to use them at school, and there were dire predictions from eminent scholars saying biro use would lead to lazy scholars with illegible handwriting!!"


1. A braille version of the iPad is already a concept in design via Omnifer who have designed a concept case meant to make the iPad usable for blind and visually impaired customers. The Omnifer almost covers the iPad completely, save for a small portion of the screen, and adds raised Braille buttons.

2. A colleague who is also a musician, recommends the App "OnSong" as the best App he has used for his sheet music. With OnSong, you can manage huge collections of chord sheets, quickly pull and reorder lists and flip from one song to the next, transpose and highlight chords or change font size. You can import songs directly from online sources, or add your own songs with the built-in editor. Just type the song like you would expect and surround your chords in square brackets inline with your lyrics. You can set OnSong to scroll your music via an autoscroll feature.