Is the iPad Just Another Potential Distraction?

Posted on June 1, 2010


I’m not a technophobe; I just received my new iMac at home and I’m completely enthralled.  I drool over the latest iPhone along with the rest of the Apple lovers in the world.  But I’m completely underwhelmed by the new iPad.

How on earth can I not be going crazy over this amazing creation?  It bothers me, honestly.  While it’s a great invention for many people, and a tool I’d love to get into the hands of my students, I do not like it.    As someone diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, I use many tools and routines to bring order to  my easily distracted yet quite creative mind.  So you’d think I’d love an iPad.

But I don’t.  I looked at one, and found it both disorienting and distracting. A colleague recently showed me her download of Alice in Wonderland.  One of my favorite novels.  Exciting?  Yes.  Colorful?  Definitely.  Would I be able to read it?  Not a chance.

I’d be far too distracted by the animations that appear in the text, and the constant movement of the page as I tilt the iPad to different angles, trying to avoid glare and find the easiest way to see the page.  The constant movement made me dizzy and a little nauseated, rather like the circular camera movements so beloved by the creators of “ER”.

I comprehend words much better without all the distractions.  The slick feel of the iPad’s screen, the many gadgets to play with, would all join together to keep me occupied  but not reading a word.

Put a book in my hand with only a few pictures in the middle, and I can focus.  I may spend a little time checking out the font used to print the book, and feeling the texture of the paper, but in only minutes I’ll be reading away, underlining, highlighting and making notes in the margin.

All of these processes will seem natural and done without any thought; highlighting and adding notes on the iPad will require me to click and drag and save.  Both processes would most likely take the same amount of time.  But the iPad will be far more distracting.

I’m not that fond of reading on the computer anyway; no matter which glare filter I use, what kind of lighting is in the room, or which glasses I wear, by the end of an 8 hour day, at least 6 of which are spent on the computer, my eyes are red and tired and I don’t want to see a computer for the rest of the evening.

Over the years I’ve worked with many students diagnosed with ADD as well as other learning differences.  Before we get carried away in the excitement of a new technology toy, let’s remember those of us who learn differently and keep the possible downsides in mind.

Posted in: Lesson Plans