How the iPad transformed learning for me at ASTD

I’ll admit it. The real reason that I purchased an iPad in advance of ASTD’s International Conference a few weeks ago was so that I could attract interest and showcase all of the wonderful solutions we have created for our clients over the last year. (From all the reviews I read, I figured it would be a perfect platform to showcase our learning visuals, simulations and other graphically rich projects.) And the technology was brand new, orders for the new iPad had been backlogged since its launch just a few weeks earlier. (So how did I find mine – how else – Craig’s list. But I digress.)

Not surprisingly, my foolproof plan worked. At a conference of over 8,000 participants, there were just a handful of iPads to be seen. Over the course of a 3 day conference, nearly a dozen folks got up the courage to ask: “So, you got one of those new iPads, how do you like it? Can I take a look?”

What’s surprising was my answer: “Of course you can, I love it! It has transformed my experience at this conference. THAT WASN’T THE PLAN! But it was, in fact, the truth.

The iPad is simple and easy to access. It took seconds to go from my backpack to full interactivity. I could move quickly between taking notes, tweeting, and web searching, all as I listened to the presenters with newfound appreciation. Why? Because I became engaged in the learning experience. I researched the presenters in real time, scanned their bios, their blogs, and in some cases even identified connections via Facebook and LinkedIn. When I found links of interest, I captured them via Instapaper, so that I could return to my research later without losing focus on the presenter. As I listened, I took notes. Sometimes in notepad, other times via twitter.  And when I tweeted, I noted other tweets from other participants in the lecture. And then a real time discussion evolved.

THIS IS SIGNIFICANT! Where ASTD had failed to encourage collaboration by putting us in rows instead of at round tables, technology made it possible for us to make connections in real time.

Despite ASTD’s traditional lecture format, my learning experience had been transformed. And I led the transformation. (With a little help from Apple.) Imagine what we can consciously do using iPads as part of our learning designs!

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