Thursday, April 21, 2011

First Impressions of the iPad

Recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on an iPad. As an owner of an (aging) iPod and other Mac products I wasn't completely unfamiliar with the platform, but I've heard a lot about tablets and specifically the iPad so I was pretty excited to try this one out.

The following are admittedly my first impressions, so take all with a grain of salt and feel free to contribute your impressions or set me straight as needed. :)


  • I'd heard the iPad was light, but it really is ultra-light. I was amazed at the difference between carrying a laptop and the iPad, and I'll admit to double-checking a few times to make sure it was in my bag.
  • The iPad's display is also really impressive. The picture is crisp and easy on the eyes. This is the way to read any content online.
  • The combination of the above coupled with the adequate volume and audio quality make the iPad an excellent device for media as well.
  • iTunes - Ugh- In my experience there are few programs that slow down computer performance like iTunes. I know I'm using a PC and the Mac-heads would look disapprovingly and suggest that is my problem. But I'm not the only person running iTunes on a PC, and it be nice if getting an iPad didn't mean subjecting myself to the iTunes ecosystem (more on this in a minute). I looked at some alternatives to iTunes (like Songbird), but for the updates and apps I bit the bullet and installed the bloated iTunes on my laptop. Oh, look another update for quicktime....(shaking my head).
  • Flash - Yeah, I know this one has been covered so I won't go on about it. I'm just saying it would still be nice.
  • Lastly, and most importantly I'm not sure I like being here in the iStore with my iApps on my iPad. This is a closed environment. Apple will tell me what is available in this world and will control their environment. This is a little troubling because as a fan of opensource software - somehow this seems like the opposite of that model.

    With most of my other devices I am allowed to choose (with some limits) what programs I want to install and what OS I'd like. This is a great time for finding free opensource applications or even webapps. I am reminded of a Lawrence Lessig talk called "Open" where he speaks to these points about the closed environment of Apple and whether that is a good thing. It's worth watching and considering.

For Education

The Chronicle recently ran an article on iPads for professors which gave a great deal of insight into how the contributing professors used the iPad. It was a good read but it lacked an "aha" moment. And while it's clear the iPad (and tablets) will make a huge impact on the future of textbooks, again I wonder if this is a more controlled "DMRish" environment. If so, how would it impact OERs?

Finally, for the K-12 environment, I've seen a lot of extremely positive postings on classes and schools that have gone with iPads. No disrespect to the postings and successes students and teachers are feeling. However, I wonder if these same classes and teachers wouldn't have experienced similar success with other technologies if they were given the needed time and training. Finally the technology isn't as important was how it can be used to learn. And really is there anything I can do on a $700 iPad that I can't do on a $300 netbook?

photo credit

Monday, April 4, 2011

Delicious, Bookmark Housecleaning and Graveyards

Last December I was one of many alarmed to hear Yahoo would be shutting down delicious (or if you're kicking it old school). I've used the tool for many years and enjoyed the web-based bookmarking that freed me up to move between computers and access my saved bookmarks.

Logo of Delicious
After using it to bookmark my stuff, I soon found that Delicious was an area I could search before going to google and get better results because others were sharing their bookmarks as well. I quickly added smart people to my network and would search their bookmarks for links that had the benefit of being vetted by a trusted source. The light bulb turned on, and I became aware of the "socialbookmaking" part of delicious.

Delicious became a favorite subject of mine for workshops with teachers. I extolled the benefits of using a network of others to help find websites to use in class. And talked about how much time can be saved when teachers are networked and bookmarks are open. And like many who use web2.o apps, I assumed delicious was secure and would be around indefinitely.

So as I read through many of the "alternatives to delicious" links, I felt like an evicted tenant sizing up my options for where to move to and call home for my huge family of bookmarks.

But I was determined to find some silver lining. Although this was an inconvenience- some good might come of this still. Like a family who moves houses, I have a great opportunity to size up what I need to take with me.

I don't really have a problem with hoarding physical items. My office is pretty barren. I could put all my "work" belongings in one box. But "digital" is another story. My delicious account is bloated, and it's been a long time since I've done any work to pare down the jungle of folders and bookmarks. Delicious is a great system for organizing bookmarks, but one that requires a little attention to organization.

I've heard Delicious referred to as "the graveyard for bookmarks," and I'll admit there are more than a few zombies in my bookmarks. Links or tags I haven't revisited since bookmarking them (years ago), and some duplicate tags litter my Delicious page. Pages that I have bookmarked and then never returned.

Do I really need a "video" and "videos" tag? How many of the 240+ twitter links should I really save for the future? I thought that link was in "internetsafety" or "digitalcitizenship" but it's not; maybe "cybersafety"? I know I bookmarked it, now where is it? Yes, there is a search window in delicious, but what if I can't recall the meaningful keywords I would have tagged it with?...Ehhh, what a mess.

Maybe some housecleaning is in order. Time to sort and box up what to take and maybe what to leave behind when I move to the new place. So although I don't welcome the change, maybe it's time to reconsider how I organize my bookmarks. I'll streamline my system and look back at this as an important moment. I won't haul my bloated zombie hoard to Diigo or Google . I'll embrace organization and structure. (cheering) U-S-A, U-S-A!

Let me at 'em!!!

UPDATE: After the outrage over the closing of Delicious circulated for a bit, Yahoo! announced it was not being shut down. Whew, glad that is over....

UPDATE II: Then this: "Delicous in Peril" via Mashable. Time to be concerned again?

UPDATE III: Like the customer hanging around until the neon OPEN sign is turned off, I'm still in delicious and I still haven't really cleaned up at all. I looked at "Diigo" but it seemed a little too busy, and although I like google bookmarks I haven't seen how I get my "network" in there. I guess truthfully I like my graveyard the way it is, and I'll probably hang out until they close the doors. However, I do like what I am hearing about

If you too are looking for options and need a little help, Richard Byrne has a useful post on how to prepare a migration of bookmarks out of Delicious and into another platform. And here is the link to a list of delicious alternatives on googledoc via Alec Couros.