iPad and Me

Patrick Love
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs
Rutgers University

When it comes to the adoption of technological innovation I am not an early adopter. I am comfortably in the second and sometimes third wave of adopters. So when the iPad first appeared I decided to wait until at least the second version before even considering purchasing it. I knew they would add some doodads, correct some bugs, and improve the overall experience. But most importantly, it would give me time to determine whether it was the game changer others claimed it was going to be. Well, it certainly seemed to be everywhere at the conferences I attended this past spring and folks who had one sure spoke highly of the experience, so soon after the iPad2 was announced I put in my order and anxiously awaited its arrival.

I have had the iPad2 for less than a month and it is transforming my work life in unexpected ways. First of all, technology has become so integrated into modern day life that I rarely experience the awe-filled “ah ha” moment, like the one I experienced in my very first e-mail exchange in the mid-1980s. Since getting the iPad2, I have had those “holy mackerel” moments nearly every day. I can’t believe a product this small and light can do as many things as it does as quickly as it does. I often just stare at it and whisper, “How did you do that?”

In my previous job I always had a backpack with me because I had multiple offices and needed to carry a laptop as I did not have a desktop computer anywhere. In my current job I continued to carry a backpack even though carrying the laptop became a rarer experience. I still had, among other things, a notepad and books to carry with me. Since the arrival of my little marvel I carry one of those little string backpacks that carries my iPad, my earbuds, my hands-free ear piece for my phone, and my sunglasses. I no longer carry a notepad because I have a notetaking application (Notes Plus) for the iPad, so I handwrite my notes right on the screen and can email them to my assistant so they are often typed up before I return to the office. The textbook I had been hauling around to read for my fall class is now loaded into iBooks so I read it, highlight it, and take notes on it right on my iPad. So not only is the iPad smaller and lighter than a laptop it also replaces other items I used to have to carry around with me.

The modest size and speed of the iPad allows it to be incorporated into professional interactions in ways that my iPhone and laptop never could. Just last week in a meeting, a colleague mentioned meeting someone at another institution who knows me and who said to say hello but my colleague had forgotten his name. I merely lifted the iPad to mouth level, spoke the institution and position into Google voice search, and within 3 seconds had the person’s name. I now knew who my colleague was talking about which contributed to our conversation and it reinforced for my colleague who he had met and how the individual was connected to me. The iPad was virtually unobtrusive in this interchange.

Of course, the core of its effectiveness and usefulness for me is the fact that I have immediate access to my work e-mail, personal e-mail, work calendar, tickler file (Yahoo Calendar), task manager (Nozbe), project manager (Evernote), dictation application (Dragon), social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter), search functions, travel sites, and news and information sites (especially Flipboard) anywhere I go (I have the 3G and WiFi model). I did not purchase an external keyboard because I wanted to see how functional on-screen typing would be. I am pleased to report that as a touch typist I am doing just fine with the typing I need to do, which is mainly e-mail and basic project and task management. Most of my other writing production on the unit is being done through dictation.

Of course there are also the non-work related functions that contribute to my overall life that are at my fingertips, including my running log, maps, shopping, restaurants, iTunes, iPod, camera (front and back), weather, sports, and entertainment sites and applications. It is the game changer it was promised to be. Go get one!

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