Step 1, take the iPad out of the box (Primer)

Technology is ubiquitous!

Tablets are so easy to use!

No one needs any advice about how to use digital tools and devices – ever!

Working in higher education debunked such myths. Recently, iPads have joined laptops as  standard college-issued productivity gear all throughout higher education. Through my own experiences and hearing from other colleagues and friends, handing iPads to employees can lead to a few scenarios (good and bad) that I put into three rough categories:

1. Early/eager adopters: Employees tear iPads out of boxes, download a suite of productivity apps, and begin using device as if it is a part of them. These folks experiment with new ways of using the devices at work. Other employees are envious of their newfound productivity. Others roll their eyes. These users can be spirited instructors for less advanced users, but sometimes they might be reluctant to share their knowledge.

2. Competent adopters: Employees take iPads out of the box, use some pre-installed apps, download others, fumble, and use the device in moderation.

3. Reluctant/Anxious adopters: iPads remain in box until further instruction or encouragement.  If these employees don’t receive instruction or encouragement, they may not use the device at all.

Bearing in mind that these are rough descriptions of groups of users, it’s worth noting there are many more users who fall into the latter two categories than you might expect. So, how do we help them?

  1. Peer learning. Sometimes, groups of peers get together to talk about new and neat apps.
  2. Organizations and departments can identify power users who can rove among coworkers,  dispensing advice about how to use the new devices. Having acted as a power user in a limited role in a previous position, it can be a neat way of getting to know other coworkers in a more relaxed setting.
  3. Giving informal, orientation slides or infographics to all users who get an iPad or other tablet so everyone can be on the same page, setting expectations for how employees should use devices. Better yet, add on some good tech resources for employees can learn about new apps and features on their own. How else would people know about new iOS upgrades or new features to apps like Mail?

Finally, 3 things every new iPad user should know:

  1. There’s a mute button! Minds have been blown before my eyes when learning that one can make the clicking and clacking noises stop.  Colleagues in meetings and who otherwise work in close corners will be happy for the silence.
  2. Calendars can sync to multiple calendars like Google and Exchange.
  3. You can read *and* watch videos on iPad

Summing up, it’s easy to make generalizations about different people’s proficiencies with technology. It’s convenient to apply a ‘one size fits all’ strategy for introducing workers to a new device or suite of technology, but we must try to find new ways of reaching all of our users and encourage our teams to collaborate on how to find enriching, productive, and meaningful ways to use technology in our work.