iPads are useful for a number of different reasons: productivity, portability, and projection.
Although I have yet to use the iPad in a classroom setting, I have been modeling a variety of applications and processes that have combined to illustrate that the iPad is an incredibly powerful tool for collaboration. The possibilities for the classroom are rich. I have used iAnnotate (see posts from my colleagues) to take notes on texts for which I am designing – something that will translate directly into a classroom model for my students.
I have used the iPad as a one-on-one tool to demonstrate and consult about the design process for two different theater productions so far this semester. I have used several different note-taking apps, but haven’t landed on the perfect one for my own uses yet. In fact, the ease with which I can have my notes available by cell phone and iPad just using the basic notes app is incredibly helpful. Similarly, I have made use of Dropbox (which I had already used from my regular computer because I always have to share large CAD or Photoshop files), Docs to Go, Photostream, and others.
Two weeks ago, after ensuring that I had downloaded necessary files to my local storage, and then having the added benefit of a local wi-fi network, I was able to use the iPad as the primary projection source for an entire design team’s uploaded Dropbox files. We were presenting the design concept for a new play being stage at The Theatre@Boston Court in Pasadena. The scenic designer was in Chicago but had his material in the shared folder. He was on Skype on a separate computer and could see the screen on which we projected his research and his designs. He could comment and respond to local questions, and I could share his work and then later, mine. The ease of connecting to the in-house projector (an older model which I’ve used with other laptops and had to struggle to get configuration right) was impressive. The group of cast members and theater staff to which this presentation made comments on the order of “the most impressive” they had ever witnessed.
Read more about specific lighting and design applications that I have reviewed elsewhere in this knowledge base.