How I use my iPad

I've been thinking about this post for quite some time. Next week, one of the MobiMOOC topics is about sharing preferred tools for mLearning, so I thought this was a great opportunity for me to wax poetically about my iPad ;).

I bought my iPad largely because I was peripherally involved in a research project that involved giving Family Practice Physician Preceptors (those that teach Family Practice residents) iPads to help them with their teaching practice. In order for me to provide any support to the project, I needed to understand what these tablet things were all about. I bought the cheapest iPad2 I could. I was lucky enough to arrive at the Apple Store the day they went on sale at a lull in the lineup such that I didn't have to wait. I was the proud owner of a 16 GB Wifi iPad2.

I had expected that I would use it to annotate PDFs – and once I figured out the trick for taking margin notes, I stopped printing (see Using iAnnotate to take notes on my iPad and Justifying my iPad some empirical evidence). My iPad is also my primary eReader (or at least it was until today – see the research linked to below in using your iPad before bed). But what surprised me, was some of my other uses for my iPad, including:

Watching TV. This, I suppose, should not have been so surprising. I don't have cable and there is no TV in our house. I watch a few shows that are available for free on the major TV station websites. Once these stations provided iPad apps, my viewing moved completely to the iPad – allowing me to watch TV anywhere in the house (e.g. while cooking dinner, or lounging on the couch).

As a speaker phone. I had not expected this. We have a few dollars on our Skype account which allows us to call out to landlines. When both my husband and I want to talk to someone, we use one of our iPads as a speaker phone. It works remarkably well. I've also used it to Skype people into meetings (voice only as the video would likely just be pointing to the ceiling). 

Writing blog posts.  Yes, this blog post was written on my iPad. Now that I've found a blogging app that I find easy to use (Posts – here is a review), I find that I prefer to us it on my iPad to create my first draft. There is something different about the way I think with my iPad, rather than my computer. Perhaps it is that it inspires a level a creativity that my computer does not. For my travel blog,, I find that the Posts application makes it easy for my to integrate pictures, even when authoring offline and co-authoring with my husband. So, I much prefer to do my first draft on the iPad, and edits or updates on the computer. 

Games or reading before bed. I used to use my iPad to play a game or two before bed, but research now shows that this is a bad idea. I did find that my husband's use of the iPad in bed was distracting. I couldn't read my book while his iPad was scrolling away within my peripheral vision. So given this latest research, I think I will dust off my kindle and start using to read a novel before sleeping.

Note taking. I use my iPad to take notes in meetings. I sometimes use an app like Soundnote that allows me to both record the meeting and take notes – it tracks where in the audio you are when you type, so you can skip directly to that part. When I was taking classes, I used various note taking apps and my stylus to do handwritten notes. The biggest challenge I'm having now is that I tend to use my iPad to present or do demonstrations, such that I can't use it to take notes at the same time!

Presentations. I use my iPad to hold my script for presentations where I'm talking behind a podium. I can save my script to PDF and use a variety of applications to either scroll and flip page as necessary, and I never need to worry about the pages getting out of order. I had thought I'd project from my iPad, but I find the connection on the iPad to the VGA project (using the iPad VGA cable accessory) isn't very useful. It doesn't have a way to "screw in", so a slight jostle of the iPad means you lose your connection to the screen. So from a practical standpoint this doesn't work. I'm working on a series of blog posts that describes how one can project wirelessly from the iPad for conferences. I'm still not convinced it is a great solution.

So, in what ways do you use your iPad that you didn't expect?


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