Tools of the Trade: The iPad

Keyboard size comparison.

At the end of May I purchased an Apple iPad to use in my classes. I had been planning on getting a netbook, but when this was announced in January it got me thinking. There are so many opportunities with a tablet that has a long battery life and an easy to use touch interface.

Computers are so useful to our work, but the goal is for local ownership and the work to be done by people from the language group. Computers stand as a major obstacle. A device like this could start to bridge the gap.

Back to the present…there are two ways that I am using the iPad for my coursework. The first is for reading. There are a lot of web pages and PDF’s that I have to read, and doing it sitting in an easy chair from a tablet is so much better than leaning over my computer screen. The second way is for my course on Human Computer Interactions. There are two usability tests that we must conduct and I have chosen to do both of them on the iPad using iWork Pages. The first is a heuristic evaluation. The second is a participatory test with three people. I am doing both tests from the perspective of somebody who does not have much computer background.

My heuristic evaluation can be downloaded here: iWork Pages on the iPad – An Heuristic Usability Evaluation.

I am very excited about the possibilities presented by this device. I don’t know that Apple is the best way to go because of restrictions that they apply to the device, but this is a device that is incredibly easy and fun to use. I am anxious to see what other companies do to answer.


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