Using A New Tablet in 2013?

(Originally posted on 01 JAN 13 on my "Cup of Joe with the CTO blog")


Did the end of 2012 find you with a new iPad, iPad Mini, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Asus Transformer or other shiny new toy for you to consume information or create content? If so, you probably spent a little time getting it setup and exploring apps for that new device. Regardless of the kind of tablet you received you have to think about "how am I going to use this device? Am I playing games? Do I want to get the latest news and check email? Will it replace my laptop when at home or on the road?" Regardless of how you want to use the device I came across good read fromHarvard Business Review titled "New Year, New Tablet, New Apps" that addresses just these questions while breaking down apps into categories. The categories, listed below, include my own recommendations for each area. For the full list of recommended apps you'll have to check out the article.

  • I want to stay up-to-date on the latest news
    • There are several in this category but for me the best is Pulse. It allows you to have various top level categories, i.e., Business, Tech, Sports, Food, etc. and then choose sources for each of those areas. You also have a home area which can pull in a smattering of all your interests.
  • I want to strengthen my relationships with friends and colleagues
    • The main players are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google +. This section is not about the apps but how you use them to categorize people with whom you are connected. If you are not making use of lists in Facebook, Groups in LinkedIn, Lists in Twitter, or Circles in Google + you should start. All of them have ways to cut down on what you see and from whom especially as you become more connected.
  • I want to be entertained
    • The article covers all the major players but I would add that you'll want to determine what best serves your needs. Netflix's streaming service is good for older movies but newer ones are sometimes hard to come by. And the interface is a little clunky. HuluPlus is better for TV shows. For those of you that are TimeWarner subscribers they have an app that will allow you to watch shows. As a TimeWarner subscriber you can also access to ESPN's WatchESPN app as well as HBO GO is you pay for that channel. If you are a sports fan there is no better app for tracking games than ScoreMobile.
  • I want to make better use of my time on the road
    • HBR says that TripIt is their app of choice but I am a big fan of WorldMate for keeping up to date with all your business travel. When you get email confirmations from airlines, hotels, and rental car services you just forward it on to WorldMate and it tracks it all for you. I also find OpenTable great for making restaurant reservations in cities to which I am traveling as it lets me know exactly which restaurants near me have tables available. In fact, during a trip to Salt Lake City last summer the app was able to get me a coveted spot at a highly popular restaurant with little to no tables available. Finally, of all the available airline apps Delta's is the best with Southwest's a close second.

Do you have a favorite app for the categories above that neither the article nor I covered? Then drop a note in the comments to share.


Samuel, Alexandra. "New Year, New Tablet, New Apps." Harvard Business Review. N.p., 28 2012. Web. 1 Jan 2013. <>.

NAIS 2012: Design Thinking & Schools

The 2012 NAIS Annual Conference, held in the beautiful Pacific Northwest town of Seattle, represents my fifth straight annual conference, my fourth as a presenter and my second as an official conference blogger capturing the conference's highlights.

Yesterday, I was fortunate to attend a pre-conference workshop led by Laura Deisley (Lovett School), Christian Long (Cannon Design), and Jeff Sharpe (Be Playful Design) titled "Design Thinking: Unlocking the Keys to Innovation." As a connected educator who uses, regularly, a personal learning network, the challenge for me at the annual conference is finding sessions that will help shape and define my thinking further as it pertains to teaching and learning in the 21st century. This session did just that as design thinking is something I've heard about, but never engaged in as part of my work.

What I enjoyed most about this particular session is that it was not your standard "sit and get" you might normally encounter. Rather, it was a true workshop --- interactive, engaging, and collaborative. During the first few minutes of the session we were introduced to the facilitators -- I like that term better than presenter -- each explaining what they would bring to the session and how we would proceed.

The first portion of the session we were broken down into teams of two -- my team had three as we tried to break the mold of what we were told -- and were provided a story board. In the story board there were a series of panels in which the first contained a drawing of an iPad and some chalk. We then had 90 seconds (that is not a typo, it does read seconds) to complete our story. What I liked about this exercise is it brought together groups of people to design something quickly without much consideration for whether or not the end result would be a success or failure-- that's a key component of design thinking. All of the stories were different and compelling as to what transpired when you had an iPad and a piece of chalk. While I was happy with our outcome the one I found most interesting is the group which used the iPad to have kids connect globally while using the chalk to connect kids locally, as in the playground.

The next portion of the design thinking challenge placed us in teams of 5 or 6 people. We were charged with crafting a space that we, as a team, would find to be conducive to working together. We are able to stay in the room, go outside in the hallway, or find other spaces in which to work and discuss with the only premise being that "yes, but" would be replaced with "yes, AND" when speaking about other people's ideas. In 20 minutes the teams used post-it notes, legos, markers and more to create a concept that would provide the best possible working space that we would most like to see in our offices and schools.

The final challenge kept us in the same teams but this time we had 30 minutes to determine a problem in our schools, discuss how we'd add failure to the process, and then determine who we would present the issue. My team and I elected to leave the room and stand while we engaged in the brain storming process which helped with the free-flowing of ideas. We challenged ourselves with changing how courses in our schools are proposed -- think "Shark Tank" and venture capitalists with the students giving feedback to the teacher proposing the course and then agreeing to help the teacher develop the course before it is pitched to the academic or administrative team. We called this new endeavor the "LEAF" Program -- Learning, Engaging, AND Failing. Again, you are not able to succeed without failure.

My experience through out the afternoon piqued my interest in design thinking and believe that it can be an incredibly useful tool to bring to areas in our schools such as strategic planning, department meetings, and in our classrooms.

To learn more about design thinking and the resources available you can visit: