My iPad and me: Five months later

Posted on: March 25, 2015 | By: Amanda Cassaday | Filed under: Instructional Technologies, Teaching & Learning

This article is a part of the Writing with Thumbs project – a year-long look at iPad apps and accessories that support writing. Read more about the project here.  

After using the iPad for about five months, I feel like I have learned a few things. Being more hands on with my writing has improved my writing and editing skills, and having access to a tablet and a nearly unlimited amount of apps has made me much more tech savvy.  I’ve used many apps, done tons of research on which apps are best, and read reviews by my peers.Through my participation the Writing with Thumbs project and reviewing apps with academic purposes, I’ve gained not only technology skills, but writing skills as well. Not to brag, but I consider myself an iPad expert at this point. These are the things I have learned in my time with the iPad.

 What I use it for

The five apps I use the most on my iPad are OneNote, Trello, Pages, Quizlet, and Google Drive. Most of these apps are for writing, which just attests to how much I use my iPad for writing papers. I use OneNote in class for note taking, Pages when I’m writing papers for class, and Google Drive when I’m working on projects with other people. I also use Trello for group projects to keep everyone organized by assigning different tasks to different people.

I used Quizlet a lot during finals week, because it lets you make flashcards to study with online. Quizlet is much easier than writing out flashcards on index cards (and much cheaper too). I have been using Quizlet since high school and it is definitely one of my favorite apps. It’s easy on the iPad to pull out for a quick cram session in the classroom right before the test. I recommend it to help with studying, especially if you’re fond of the flashcards method.

Why the iPad is awesome

The best part of the iPad is the size. Hands down, it is so much easier to carry around my iPad with me everywhere I go than my laptop. Besides the size, the iPad is also easier to use than my laptop because of all the different apps I have to use on it. For example, my favorite app now – although I go back and forth on how I feel about it – is OneNote by Microsoft. OneNote is so much easier to use on the iPad than on the computer, because everything is just a touch away. Also on the computer OneNote looks a little distorted, and the tags aren’t quite as convenient. I have found the same to be true with the app Trello, which is much more user-friendly in the app than online. These are just a few examples I have found of apps working better than their Internet counterpart.

In general, everything is easier on the iPad. With the multitude of apps available, my iPad can be anything I need it to be at the drop of a hat. If I need to take notes, I can open OneNote and instantly see all my notes in front of me. If I need to write a paper, I can open Microsoft Word. I have the kindle app on my iPad as well for both my textbooks and books for pleasure. And, best of all, if I need to procrastinate, Netflix is a touch away. The iPad has become my all-in-one, something I can’t go a day without.

Why the iPad isn’t so awesome

The worst part about using the iPad as a student is that it doesn’t have a USB port. I would love to have the iPad replace my computer entirely, but until they create an iPad with a USB port, that cannot happen. Its an issue because I can’t save the work I do on my iPad to my flash drive. If I want to save something to a flash drive, I have to first send it to my computer, and then put it on a flash drive, which kind of just defeats the purpose of working on my iPad; I might as well just work on my computer. There is always the cloud to save things to, but there’s always a chance that the internet won’t work when you need it to so I feel like that’s a little risky.

Also, the way printers are set up at Elon, I can’t send things to my printer to print from my iPad. I have to, again, send it to my computer and then print it from there.

Beyond this, I think that the biggest issue for students with the iPad is that it is expensive. Though cheaper than most computers, the iPad isn’t a small purchase. With all the accessories and apps that go with it, an iPad can end up costing just as much as a regular computer. I’m not saying that I don’t recommend the iPad, because I definitely do, and I love mine. I’m just saying that when it comes to issues with the iPad, cost is by far the biggest one.

Writing on the iPad

iPad with PagesI mentioned this earlier, but the biggest challenge I found in writing on the iPad was trying to write on it without the attached keyboard. Maybe I just never let myself get used to it, but I always had such trouble trying to type on the touch screen that I would give up and go back to the keyboard.

However, I think that might be the only challenge in writing on the iPad. Because the app store has apps like Pages and Microsoft Word, I can write papers in the same format that I was used to on my laptop. I found this surprising, because I expected everything to be different and more confusing on the iPad, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out how easy it was adjusting to writing on the iPad, and how easy it is to switch back and forth between the iPad and my laptop.

How the iPad changed me

I was  surprised by how much my writing has improved by using the iPad. My writing has become much better because now I actually proofread my work. Before the iPad, I hated to proofread my work because I found it hard to read off the computer screen. All the lines would blend together; I had so much trouble (and got lazy) that I would just give up and hope that spell check caught everything (which it never did).

On the iPad, I can read what I’ve written much more easily. It’s like reading a book, so now I have no excuse but to proofread my work. Now that I’m proofreading my work, my papers are much better (shocking, right?) and my writing has improved.

Apple ProductsThe iPad has affected my use of other technologies because I’m now using other technologies less and less. For example, I now very rarely use my iPhone when I’m in my room. Though its more difficult to use when walking across campus, I prefer to use my iPad over my iPhone because the screen is bigger and, in my opinion, better. All the apps I use on my iPhone I can use more easily on my iPad, even apps like iMessage and FaceTime.

I also use my iPad in place of my laptop a lot, because not only is it easier to write with, but using the apps is much easier than having a lot of internet tabs open. Overall, I am very happy with my iPad and so far it has definitely been a great asset to my academics.


Image via Flickr user Cheon Fong Liew / CC BY-SA 2.0

Image via Flickr user FHKE / CC BY 2.0

Image via Flickr user Andreas Issleib / CC BY 2.0

Amanda Cassaday

Amanda Cassaday

Amanda Cassaday is a freshman this year and is very excited to be working on the Writing With Thumbs project.

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