Home > use case > Drs. Hong Min Park, Emily Hencken Ritter, and Greg Vonnahme–iPads in Political Science, pt. 2

Drs. Hong Min Park, Emily Hencken Ritter, and Greg Vonnahme–iPads in Political Science, pt. 2

August 25th, 2011

[see part 1 of this post]. . . We also used the iPads in a variety of ways for our respective research. The iPad is small and light, making it very easy to travel with. The 3G service is excellent and cheaper than paying for service from conference hotels. Though we have not used the iPad for presenting, this is definitely possible and others at our conferences have done so with great success.

Reading articles and drafts is very easy and comfortable on the iPad: Dr. Vonnhame likes iAnnotate for reading and marking pdfs, and Dr. Ritter uses PDFExpert, which syncs the marked pdfs with the eternally useful cloud storage space, Dropbox. The ability to both read and mark-up documents is particularly useful when acting as a discussant of a panel or discussing a project with a colleague at a conference.   However, Dr. Ritter, for instance, still travels with a laptop in order to edit her presentation slides, which you cannot do if you do not opt to use Keynote.

Dr. Park used the iPad for collaborative research with people from other parts of the country.  For instance, he communicated with co-authors using the Skype app and shared files via Dropbox app – it has been much easier for him to do these activities with the iPad as compared to with the laptop computer simply because the iPad is light and convenient.

Dr. Ritter also used the iPad while doing interviews in Europe this summer. She only used it for notetaking (using Evernote) and not recording (though Evernote does record audio connected with your notes), but the iPad was much less obtrusive than using a laptop to take notes, making it easier to speak freely with the subject.

For a pen and paper replacement app, Dr. Vonnahme tried two: WritePad and Penultimate.  WritePad converts hand-written text to typeface.  Dr. Vonnahme’s handwriting is somewhat cipherous and the conversion was a complete mess (over 80% of the words were converted incorrectly, often to non-word characters).  Penultimate is just a pen and paper replacement app with no conversion.  Writing was smooth and responsive, and notes could be easily organized into different “notebooks”.

Overall, the three of us found very different uses for the iPad and felt differently about them. Dr. Vonnahme quite liked the iPad, especially teaching with it, due to its flexibility. Dr. Ritter, in contrast, enjoyed using the iPad for its size and flexibility, but found that most of the things she did with it could be done (sometimes more efficiently) with a traditional computer, and she was rarely able to eschew the use of a computer in favor of the iPad. Dr. Park also liked the iPad in general for its flexibility and versatility and found that it could develop into a very teaching-friendly device in the near future (not entirely at the current moment, though).

–Hong Min Park is an assistant professor of Political Science.  He was born and raised in South Korea, and received B.A. from Seoul National University and Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis.  His research and teaching interests include U.S. Congress, political parties, and American political institutions in general.

–Emily Hencken Ritter is an assistant professor of Political Science with a PhD from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Her research and teaching interests center on the way a variety of institutions affect human rights violations and domestic conflict, including work on treaties, international and domestic courts, and executive political survival.

–Greg Vonnahme is assistant professor of Political Science.  His Ph.D. is from Rice University in Houston, TX and his research and teaching interests are American voting behavior, elections, election reforms, campaign finance, and state politics.

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