All the time I went to school, from 1st grade through college, I loved school supplies. The best part of late August was buying the new notebooks, loose leaf binders, pens, markers, protractors and everything else that went along with the new school year. Of course, all the new toys needed a nice home and the highlight was the new book bag. My love of school supplies carried over to when my kids went through school, although everything was more expensive, fancier and complicated.

When I started SPS last year, I bought e-textbooks and printed out the chapters one by one so I could read them while I commuted to work. Although the e-textbook was less expensive, I didn’t have to carry a heavy book, and I was spared the ordeal of trying to sell it back at the end of the semester. I spent a lot of time, killed a lot of trees and went through many ink cartridges.

At the end of the spring semester, I decided to buy a tablet. After some research, I learned that the online textbook vendor had an app only for the iPad, so that is what I purchased. I tried it with Blackboard and found that it was useful only if the instructor enabled “Quick View”. So, at first I used it mostly for email and web surfing.

I quickly discovered the joys of downloading e-books from the public library and caught up on all my fun summer reading – everything from the Peoples’ History of the United States to the Stieg Larsson trilogy to trashy summer novels. I downloaded a bunch of classics for free (the complete works of Shakespeare, the Canterbury Tales, The Divine Comedy and many other books I owned but were lost in a fire years ago). Have you tried to check out a classic from the library recently? They are dusty, they smell and the pages feel funky.

Last week, I took the plunge and downloaded my fall textbooks. It took a little trial and error and there are limitations on how many chapters  can be downloaded at one time (I bought the cheaper wireless-only version of the iPad and not the 3G model), but it worked! I began reading my Economics and Marketing textbooks off-line while commuting to and from work. When I don’t feel like reading on the bus, I can do the USA Today crossword puzzle without an Internet connection via its app.

Although typing on the iPad takes some getting used to, I will download the Pages app for $9.99 and see if I can delay replacing my ancient and slow iBook.

Many critics call the iPad an expensive toy, a frivolous waste of money and a glorified smartphone. However, it has made my life so much easier and I can’t imagine going to school or doing business without one. Can you?

Now, lets hope it works with Blackboard . . .

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumnae of Lehman College.  She is an administrator for a university in NYC.  She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible.  Mary hopes to get more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.