I’ve been thinking a lot lately about iPads, Chromebooks, Android
Tablets, and Linux laptops. In planning the next 5 years of technology
in my school district, I know it will be mobile, but what device should
I be thinking about? And then I noticed something very curious about the
iPad and how people interact with it.
In the past, when I’ve done professional development, there would always
be some participants that would question the complexity. “Why are there
so many steps?” “I’ll never remember all these!” Now with iPad training,
I very seldom hear these comments. In fact, with all the hoops one must
jump through on the iPad to do some tasks, people almost seem to enjoy
it. These are the same people that would be overwhelmed with the
complexity of doing the same task under desktop operating systems.
Is this the epiphany that techies are missing? A device that defies
our expectations of technology? The iPad with its touch and non-window
interface turns the last 20 years of technology use on its head. For the
first time in 15 years, people are realizing that they can use a
computing platform that doesn’t have Microsoft Office on it.
I’m reminded of a situation when I first bought the Nintendo Wii. At the
time, motion control was brand new, and I was playing my brother in a
first person shooter. He couldn’t quite get the hang of using the
controller, preferring wild swings instead of using the controller with
style and finesse. It was the first new gaming interface he had used
since the analog stick was added to the Nintendo 64 and he was
struggling. It seems we get too comfortable with what we know, instead
of pushing through to see what we can do.
These same discussions are taking place with the new interface of
Windows 8. People are lamenting the loss of the desktop, even as
Microsoft assures them that the desktop will still be there when using
Windows 8 on a desktop or laptop computer. It’s funny in a way, I
remember these same arguments when the switch from Microsoft DOS to
Microsoft Windows was taking place. The writing is on the wall for the
desktop metaphor. People don’t want to manually manage their
documents anymore. Or the apps. And most importantly, their
computer. They want to use it to get stuff done, and they’ve found that
the iPad allows them to do it.
As districts buy more and more iPads will the new paradigm of touch
computing with a tablet be the future?