The Tablet PC Is the ONE Device for Me

Wow it is hard to believe that it's been a few weeks already since I wrote that last post promising a post about my love of Tablet PCs. Time flies when you are having fun (on a new job).  As I begin this post it's important that you recognize the particular capitalization of the word “one” in the title. The purpose of that is to draw attention to the fact that this post refers specifically to the scenario of only having ONE computing device. In that case, as a math teacher and technology director, the one computing device for me was a Tablet PC. Hopefully by the end of this article you at least understand why the Tablet PC was the ONE for me. Okay so let's get started. Some things are pretty obvious; for my computing device I certainly needed the ability to handle e-mails & appointments, participate in social media, create presentations and documents, and do a little bit of photo and video work. However there were some specific tasks that I needed to be able to do in my role as a technology director. Because many of our school’s assets resided on a campus network I needed to have the ability to access our network virtually any time.  For us this meant I needed access to a Cisco VPN client. In addition I tended to be a pretty heavy database user. As part of my training responsibilities, I created tutorials for faculty and students; some of these tutorials were live-action, some screencasts, and some a mixture of both. While certainly not a high-end user of video, I wanted to create high-quality content for our community. Finally, I was also a hack web-developer. That is I tended to do just enough coding to keep my basic skills fresh. For the most part, I think these things are pretty straightforward and don't necessarily reflect any big personal choice on my part. So, now let’s examine the things that really made this a personal choice on my part. First and foremost, I'm not a very organized person. Over the years I found that when people handed me pieces of paper, or if I jotted notes on scrapes of paper, I simply lost them. As a result I decided that I wanted to make a computing choice that made me as paperless as possible. In addition my cluttered lifestyle also meant that I didn't want to be burdened with a lot of add-on components, i.e. no special keyboards, no special mice, and if there were such an add-on it better be convenient. I wanted to be able to go everywhere knowing that I only needed to remember my single device. My teaching style also impacted my decision. While I love interactive whiteboards for their ability to record and digitize information that has been written on a board, I did not find interactive whiteboards productive in my classroom. Too often they draw attention and activity to a central location in the room and that tended to hamstring me in the way I interact with my students. So my ideal solution would include the ability to freehand write mathematics symbols, notations and expressions in such a way that they are digitized but also allow me the ability to roam around the classroom and interact with my students more directly. One last piece to the puzzle is I wanted always-on connectivity and application access.  I often see people in meetings taking notes on paper, when I know they have computing devices.  I think a big part of this is the “hassle” of transporting the traditional laptop in sleep-mode and waiting for the system to fully emerge from its grogginess. Plus for those chance encounters in hallways, I wanted to be able to use my device, and I’d certainly never encourage anyone to carry a laptop with its lid up. In addition, I wanted the illusion of multi-tasking. I know it may be a myth, but I like being able to quickly switch back and forth between many applications. While it may not be a perfect device for everyone, the Tablet PC is the ONE device for me.