Adventures of a Paradigm Shifter

Guest Post – an educational consultant and staff leader reflects on using an iPad for the first time. This post is cross-posted at Maria’s iPad Blog.


The iPad came out of its box looking simple, unassuming and seemingly without controls – using this, I was promised, would become a “paradigm shift” for me: it would simplify my computer tasks when away from the office. I was dubious at best and not a little bewildered — you see, I was one of those (few?) who made it a point not to use a computer when not at work – yes, I’m a 50 something technical neophyte who uses a computer because I have to in my work as an educational consultant and staff leader in the Adult General Education programme at our centre. It was becoming obvious, though, that I needed another tool to help me easily access the ever-growing mass of documents and information overload when away from my desk — a different kind of laptop? I wondered (I envisioned myself easily clicking away on a slimmer, lighter version…). My director, however, convinced me to try a tablet instead…tablet? As in Moses and the tablets? Gaming tablets? (I felt like Moses!) So I did a bit of research and discovered that a tablet “combines the features and portability of a smartphone” (I have a cell phone, but it’s not one of the smart ones) “with the power of a laptop – the best of both worlds in one sleek device” — so there it was in front of me, a sleek device that I wasn’t sure what to do with.

Moses and tablets

Image from Contracast, click for source.

In a previous mini-introduction to the iPad, I had learned that it used touch-screen capability so I anticipated problems for work-related use. Luckily, an important tool that helped me transition to using the iPad tablet was a separate keyboard – in my case, the Zagg 2012 version. Setting up the keyboard to “recognize” my iPad turned out to be satisfyingly easy (I accomplished this myself!), and after that, it looked like I had a mini-laptop in my hands.

The first thing that really impressed me was how quickly my iPad turned on: a light press of the side button and a “slide to unlock” (though at first, being left-handed I tried to slide left…) revealed a screen full of intriguing “apps” (I had heard about those) such as “Notes,” “Calendar,” “Reminders,” “Camera,” and “Safari” – I started feeling optimistic…these sounded like promising allies in my technical adventure. I had been instructed to go to “Settings” and enter my password in order to access wireless internet at home and I was nervous about that…what if it didn’t work? But it did – the indicators were clear and simple. I was also encouraged to start exploring on my own, so I cautiously began: what better app to start with, I thought, than “Safari” — a light touch of the compass symbol and I was immediately brought to a screen that offered a Google search. Okay, then – what to look up first? I had just been talking to my husband, Gerry, at our kitchen table about how communication technology was changing so quickly (social networking and Twitter), and he expressed his view that even someone like F. Scott Fitzgerald (one of my favorite writers) had been kind of “tweeting” almost a century ago, as evidenced in his notebooks. Notebooks? I had read all of his novels and short stories – how could I have missed his notebooks! So I typed in “Fitzgerald notebooks” and got a list of several options: I touched the entry “The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald” and was rewarded (at our kitchen table) with the complete text of this work! Also, I was able to manipulate the size of the print by touching the screen with two fingers and spreading or narrowing the distance between. Gerry had made an interesting point: Fitzgerald’s entries in his “Notebooks” were similar in nature to what you could find on Twitter today – reflections, comments, observations – imagine, I added, what he could have done with a tablet…

postscript – the author tells me this post was written using Evernote on her iPad.

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