More on the iPad: students weigh in


My students had some interesting perspectives on the iPad, which I think are worth exploring further, and using them as a reflection on my earlier comments on the new gadget from Apple.

Mitch (names changed to protect minors, innocent or guilty as they may be), complained loudly that it was not a new device.  It was a souped-up iPod Touch with a large screen, and little more.  He agreed with my assessment that the lack of a camera and a microphone prevented it from being a fully useful multimedia device.  He thought the Kindle was a piece of c&$p (he used stronger language than that), but this wasn’t much of an improvement.  Plus, as a non-reader (he knows how, he just doesn’t), the notion of having instant access to a bookstore matters not at all to him.

Basil is thrilled, and wants one today.  The idea of doing his school work using it, as well as a digital textbook on board, is mighty cool to him.  He’s keen on the idea of Electronics Arts sports games being accessible through this machine, and playing them through an accelerometer like the Wii.  What he wants to know, is the WiFi going to be robust enough for two or more players to network their machines to play games like World of Warcraft or some of the other combat games?

Finn MacCool is prepared to own one today, but feels kind of iffy about it.  “It needs a camera and microphone, so people can make software apps for it that allow multimedia.”  And he felt that adding a microphone and camera would do great things for games, because you could chat with partners on a side channel.

Davi felt that the iBooks program was silly. “I don’t want to read my textbooks at all. Why would I want to read them on an iPad?”  His friend Jachin remarked that having a book on an iPad was not the same thing as having a dead-tree copy that he could give to his friends. “Just because I buy it doesn’t mean I want to own it forever. Most books aren’t that good.”

He’s certainly right about that.

So there you are.  Some teenage voices about the iPad, all them reacting essentially the same way as the major news media does — It’s cool, it sucks, it doesn’t suck but it’s not cool either — and in about equal measure the last time I checked.

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