Using gadgets for school has always been a passion of mine, since long before it was really sensible to do so. Check out these pictures I just dug out from backups of my old cell phone photos (3-4 cell phones ago) to see what life was like back then.
The first gadget I used for school I don’t have a picture of. It was a Game Boy Advance, and I managed to put a few useful notes on it using a flash cart. At the time, there was one person in class who had a laptop he brought to school. It was an epically huge thing, weighed a ton and didn’t last long without an AC adapter. He didn’t really use it for school work anyways, so it all worked out.I got my first laptop when I started college, which was in 2008. Not too long ago really, but decades ago in gadget years. That was the year netbooks came out, but not until after I bought my insanely huge, helicopter-sounding laptop.
The giant laptop quickly became a bit too much, and I experimented with some other solutions. I got my first tablet after Christmas of 08, a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. It ran on a special version of Linux called Maemo, the predecessor of the Maemo that Nokia uses for a few smartphones today, It was a mess to use though; no built in support for any Microsoft documents (Word, Excel) meant that it took hours worth of fighting with the thing to make it even partially ready for school use. I paired it up with an iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard and it worked, though in retrospect I think I should have used paper instead.
In late 2008 I got a netbook and a Wacom tablet, which paired with Microsoft One Note became my new note taking solution. I upgraded to a slightly larger netbook in 2009, and the Archos 5 Internet Tablet also made an appearance at school during late 2009/early 2010. Due to all the bugs and such I didn’t use it much, but I did keep notes for exams on it so I could read until the exam started.
The Viliv S5 also got a bit of use as a note taking device, in the same way the N800 had been 2 years before. It was much better suited for it since it ran Windows 7, even if this particular pictures has me watching House on it rather than taking notes.
For some reason I don’t have a picture of my fall 2010 setup, but it was basically the same as the netbook setup just with an ultraportable laptop and a slightly newer Wacom tablet. These days I use the iPad, as you all know, and am quite happy with it. It’s certainly more portable, has better battery life, and is a simpler solution for storing documents for reading than all the previous solutions. I think it’s amazing that in just a few years we’ve gone from the Nokia N800 to the iPad, and it makes me really excited to see how this all progresses in the future. Using tech in school the way I do is not very common (at least not as far as I’ve seen, some stretch as far as a netbook/laptop but that’s it) though that will definitely change in the future. Awareness of possibilities is the number 1 step on a path to true tech integration in school, and hopefully that will be easier now that schools actually use these types of devices for younger pupils.
On a sidenote, it’s really fun (yet extremely time consuming) to look through old photos- especially those taken on a cell phone, as they (well, mine at least) contain as many “I’ll take a pic as a note to myself” type photos as actual photos. I just went through more than 2000 from the last 5 years from many different cellphones and it’s really fun to see the types of pics you don’t normally take with a “real” camera.