Okay, I have my actual iPad now, as of a week or so ago. Yay!
(In fact, this is my first ever blog post written on the iPad!)
I've been playing around with it a little but tend to get overwhelmed quickly. But I'm feeling compelled to keep playing around with it since FGS bought it for me. So I've committed to grading my first big set of AP Comp essays (coming in on Tuesday) on the iPad, and to that end I have been cracking down (as I define these things in my techno-phobic way) to figure out some basics.
So here's the grading plan: the students email me their essays in .pdf; I download them into Notability; I comment on them in Notability; I email the marked up .pdf back to the student. This morning (while proctoring SATs) I took the Notability tutorial, and I actually like it quite a lot, at least so far. My approach to commenting on papers seems to involve a lot of arrows and circling words, and I'm pleased that I'll be able to keep that with grading in this program. What I was playing around with today on a sample paper was writing comments in the margins with the pen function with my finger, and then typing up a comment at the end. I'm actually feeling pretty good about this little experiment to come this week.
Here's the question: Do I need a separate keyboard to make this grading work? Typing on the on-screen keyboard is not, of course, a fabulous thing, although I was making it work (and it might lead me to write shorter comments, which would not be at all a bad thing!).
All of the humanities folks at FGS who have gotten iPads have gotten covers that include a keyboard, which makes it very easy to open the case, flip up the iPad, and treat the whole thing like it's a mini-laptop. So today I went to the Apple Store and to Best Buy and bought pretty much every cover and keyboard that might work, and I brought them all home to play around with them (planning on returning almost everything in a couple of days, of course, so as to ease the strain on my credit card! and I made that plan with the full cooperation of the store employees, making sure there was no restocking fee or anything like that).
And here's what I'm thinking so far: I don't think I want a keyboard/case combo! I'm already finding that adding just the iPad to my schoolbag adds an appreciable weight, and with the keyboard in addition, it's really quite a bit heavier! Indeed, iPad with the Zagg Folio keyboard/cover (which is the one most often chosen by my humanities colleagues) is actually heavier than D.'s laptop. I am really not into that weight. One of the reasons that I have repeatedly opted out of getting a school laptop to replace my school desktop is that I don't want to schlep around more weight everywhere! Plus, having a keyboard built-in to the case actually seems to reduce the iPad-ness of the iPad; it really does become more like a miniature laptop, and it doesn't work as well when one wants to use the iPad without the keyboard. (My science/technology colleagues tend not to get keyboards but do tend to get styluses, which is something that only a few of the humanities folks have bothered to get.
So here's my thought of the moment (which is what D. told me to do a week ago, but sometimes one needs to try out the options for oneself): Get a separate keyboard (I'm thinking of the Apple wireless keyboard, which is one of the many things I bought today), but mostly use the iPad without a keyboard. I also got an Origami Workstation, which is a case for the keyboard that also functions as a stand for the iPad to prop it up at a good angle when one is using the keyboard. And I mostly will leave that keyboard/Origami workstation at home, but when I've got a stack of papers that I'm grading in Notability (which of course isn't all the time), I'll carry around the keyboard only then ... and of course that extra weight during those times is perhaps about the extra weight I would have been carrying around with the big stacks of papers anyway. And the Apple keyboard is larger and more comfortable for typing than any of the ones that come as part of a carrying case.
Now, doing things this way is more expensive, because I'm buying the Apple keyboard, the Origami Workstation, and an iPad Smart Case (which is a total splurge, because the iPad actually came with one when I got it, but it's black and I keep losing it because it tends to blend with stuff, and besides it looks like all of the school iPads that we have for student use, and the bright green one is just so pretty!). So, yeah, that's more money than paying $99 for a case with a keyboard. But I want an option that retains more of the iPad-ness; I already have a laptop and don't need another.
So, a question: Those of you who have iPads, what have you done re: covers and keyboards, and are you happy with the options you have chosen?
Also -- because apparently this "free" iPad is going to cost me even more money before this adventure is through -- I think I need to get a new bag, one that is conveniently shaped/sized to carry the iPad. Now, I actually need a new school bag, since mine is beginning to shred, and I also could use a new purse (or rather the small messenger bag that I use as a purse), since the clasp broke on mine this summer. So I was already thinking that I wanted to re-imagine my entire purse/bookbag situation anyway, and now perhaps that time has arrived. I like Tom Bihn bags, and they have a nice-looking bag called the Ristretto (which sounds a lot like "risotto," so it might be that I would always be hungry if I carried that bag).
Another question: Thoughts on this particular bag? Or others? What's your bookbag of choice?
(That external keyboard / workstation combo is how I wrote this blog post, which worked well ... except that for some reason it wouldn't publish, so I had to copy and paste it into an email and send it to myself on my computer, where I'm now publishing it. So that's a disappointing iPad moment, but this failure isn't about the cover or keyboard, so I shan't dwell on it right now.)