CMH has primarily been using iPad 1s and iPads 2s for 21-Tech; however, a few weeks ago, we decided to test the new iPad Mini. The results were overwhelmingly positive: 100% of the museum staff who tested the Mini approved the device!
Here are the details:
- A total of 12 staff members tested the iPad Mini, and all agreed that the smaller size makes the tablet much easier to hold. Also, since the Mini can be held in one hand, it’s easier to rotate the screen towards a visitor during an interaction. In fact, doing so eliminates the need to hand over the tablet to the visitor which allows the staff to continue monitoring the device, and guide the interaction. We can’t do that with an iPad2 because it needs to be held with two hands due to its larger size and heavier weight (twice the weight to be exact).
- Because the Mini is half the weight of the iPad2, our Discovery Guides are looking forward to having the option of carrying the Mini (especially since they’re assigned the iPad for 5+ hours a day).
- To narrow the focus, we tested the iPad2 and the iPad Mini for the same activities, and noticed no difference in the quality of the interactions. The Mini wasn’t necessarily better, but served the same function as an iPad2. Since most iPad interactions don’t last longer than 1 or 2 minutes anyway, the slightly smaller size was not a major factor for us.
- Lastly, knowing how to use an iPad to engage visitors in conversation (to extend learning, teach a concept or skill) is the real key. We found that if Discovery Guides can engage kids, they can achieve the same level of success, regardless of whether they’re using an iPad2 or iPad Mini.
One last note: Our staff loved the case we had purchased because it has a strap on the back which allows them to securely hold the Mini in one hand. Also, it’s only $10 on Amazon, and available in various colors (always a plus!): http://amzn.to/UEhyj2