By Jeff Jones, Wednesday, October 13, 2010, at 9:00 am.
The iPad is all the rage. It’s going to save the publishing world. It’s going to revolutionize how we entertain ourselves. But it might also change how we and, more important, tomorrow’s leaders learn.
A few months back, our office received an iPad to test. I took it home. Instantly, my 3- and 4-year-old kids were flipping through apps with the flick of a finger. We streamed “Toy Story” on Netflix. Then we downloaded a “Toy Story” digital book app. In seconds, we’d gone from entertainment to learning.
What struck me was how easy the iPad was to use, and how quickly my kids caught on to its intuitive touch screen. While I hesitate to let them navigate our laptop alone, I set the iPad on their laps and sat across the room as they followed the words and a narrator read the story—and the characters came to digital life. A recent Scholastic study said 25 percent of the 2,000 children who were surveyed (ages 6 to 17) have already experienced a digital book. So add mine to that list.
As a parent, I want the best for my children. I want them to enjoy reading and learning, to be able to experience the same joy I had as a kid, and even now, of escaping into a world of words crafted by an author. This is one of the reasons we read old-school books at night before bed, even if it has been a long day and we’re collectively cranky. It’s why I’m an avid supporter of public libraries and their treasure trove of reading adventures—for free! (And, yes, in some cases, even with digital books able to be checked out.)
Sometimes, if you pay attention, you can learn more from your children than they from you. After watching my kids seamlessly incorporate a digital reading experience into their world, I couldn’t help thinking of the possibilities to leverage this great tool (any tablet, really) at work. I think of clients who could educate their customers in a fun way about what they do. This goes beyond a brochure—it can make a product awaken to its digital life and maybe even entertain.
Of course, the iPad experience has created a personal quandary. I gave it back to the collective office, so others could test it. This hasn’t yet sunk in for my 3-year-old. Each day after hugs and kisses, the last words out of her tiny lips are: “Dad, see if you can get the iPad today. If not, I won’t be mad. But if you can…”
This holiday season, Santa might be visiting the Mac store and going digital.