Technology taken from the classroom to a C-130 Hercules
April 30, 2012
by Mark Ollig

I started writing this week’s column last Tuesday, just after I finished my evening walk.

Actually, these walks are tempting me to take up running again – I especially feel this way when I see the younger joggers smiling as they run past me.

Indeed. I fondly recall my regular jogs around Winsted Lake. I still hope to be able to do that again someday, but for right now, I realize I first need to keep up with the walking. Look out joggers; I am making a comeback.

Those of you out there who follow me on Facebook have seen the daily commentaries I post each time I finish one of my walks.

I consider them my personal victory postings.

Of course, I do enjoy walking outside in the fresh air. It gives my mind a break from all the technology I use every day. Walking outside, and observing people and nature also reminds me of years gone by, and takes me back to a time when we did not have personal computers, tablets, smart phones, web access, and online social media interactions to deal with.

We did have those annoying, beeping pagers, though.

Last Tuesday evening, I also uploaded a picture to my Facebook page showing a classroom with about 15 students. On each of the students desks was a computer.

I did not post the year the photo was taken, but the computers looked (actually they were) old.

One person posted a guess “Well, it’s before MySpace . . . so . . . 1998?”

I replied, the computers on the desks were Tandy TRS-80s (sold in Tandy’s Radio Shack stores) and the picture was taken around 1979.

The person replied, “Those computers were being used before there was even an AOL dial-up online service.”

A friend who graduated from high school the same year I did correctly commented that he thought the picture was taken after we had already graduated.

He was right. It was after we graduated when desktop computers were starting to be seen in classrooms.

Trying to salvage something tech-related during our time in high school, I replied, “Well, we did have electric typewriters.”

Surprisingly, my friend never responded back to me.

During the last 30 years, we have seen computer technology being used in most school classrooms.

Today, the computer hardware technology being used is transitioning. Schools are beginning to replace their textbooks and traditionally used computers with iPads and tablet computing devices.

Many schools are using wireless iPad technology to help with student learning.

I contacted Yvonne Selcer, a former Hopkins Public School board member and chair, to ask her opinion about schools incorporating iPads into their educational curriculum.

“Teachers are turning the iPad into powerful learning devices. School curriculum is enriched with links to relevant videos, websites, and collaborative units that engage and interest the students. Hopkins Public Schools, and schools across Minnesota, are using iPads extensively to raise achievement and increase opportunity for all,” Selcer said.

One of the other things yours truly likes about the newer model iPads being used in schools is that journalism students can use them for a variety of purposes. From recording video interviews, typing articles and taking photographs, to creating a digital multimedia video production of news, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories.

Newly created content can be wirelessly uploaded to the school’s newspaper website or social media site.

Even the US military is beginning to use iPad technology.

I recently read that the US Air Force is spending about $9 million for 18,000 Apple iPads.

Of course, with that large of an order, they are probably getting a nice discount from Apple.

It is reported the Air Force will be buying the 32GB iPad 2s with Wi-Fi.

Many of these iPad 2s are to be used in their military heavy airlift transport planes.

The Air Force’s Air Mobility Command uses transport planes such as the C-5 Galaxy, and C-130 Hercules.

The idea is to replace the costly, weighty, paper charts and publications currently being used by Air Force pilots while in flight with iPads.

It was also thought that it would be much easier keeping information up-to-date in the iPad via its wireless technology.

Being curious about using an iPad in a military transport plane at altitude, I checked the specs for the iPad 2 on Apple’s iPad 2 website specifications page, located at http://www.apple.com/ipad/ipad-2/specs.html.

I was very surprised when I read Apple’s Environmental Requirements for an iPad 2; “Maximum operating altitude;10,000 feet (3000 m).”

The Air Force’s C-130J Super Hercules aircraft has a maximum ceiling of 28,000 feet with a 42,000-pound payload.

One can only assume – before signing the $9 million check to Apple – the good folks at the US Air Force did a few practice iPad airborne run-throughs.

With that said, I think it might be a good time for me to take another walk.

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