Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thoughts on the iPad2 in Teaching

By Shelly Blake-Plock

Picked up my own iPad2 about three weeks ago and, as an experiment, I have set my laptop aside and have used nothing but the Apple in the classroom ever since.

And I have found that there is nothing that I do in my normal activities as a teacher that I have done with a laptop or a tablet PC that I can not do with the iPad2.

Blogging? No problem... BlogPress. Gmail and Google Apps? No problem... G-whizz. Editing pics? Photoshop Express and Filterstorm and 100Cameras. Grading? No problem... PowerTeacher has an app. Documents and presentations? No prob... Pages and Keynote. Handwriting? Penultimate. Note taking and note storage? Auditorium, Evernote, and Dropbox. Dictation? Dragon. Sharing student desktops? Lanschool. Video taking-making-and-editing? iMovie is ridiculously good on the iPad. Music? Let's just say that Korg and Moog have made synth apps that I would be willing to take on stage.

In short, in my experience, all of the criticisms I have heard about the iPad not being 'classroom ready' are bogus. The Flash 'problem'? I have not noticed it so much. The two sites I have had problems with are wikispaces and weebly, but this just means that if they do not make themselves accessible for iPad, I will find an alternative -- i am not married to either of them. Other problems? For all I heard about how difficult typing would be, I have found it rather intuitive. Multitasking? Takes getting used to, but pretty simple and effective once you get the hang of it. Problems as a 'creation' tool? Absurd. Sure, if I am going to do high end design or audio, I am going to use pro gear... but how often do you actually find yourself needing pro gear in your regular duties?

Publishing yearbook? Newspaper? Yeah, you should be on a quad core running Adobe. iPad is not a substitute for that type of machine. But it is questionable to hear some quarters chopping off their nose to spite their face by complaining that a $700 machine you can hold in the palm of your hand can't run InDesign.

One of the things I never realized before was just how much even a tablet PC limits your mobility. With the iPad, I can roam the halls, lay on the couch, run out to the teacher parking lot... All while prepping digital lessons or watching student videos. The mobility factor is huge and will alter the way we think of 'space' in schools. My students joked that my being able to roam around while connected to PowerTeacher made it considerably more difficult for them to get away with sneaking a Skype session than it was while I was tied to the big laptop on my podium. They also like how easy it is to share the iPad. And it is not just a 'cool' thing... It is really a matter of being able to work --digitally and physically-- quick and share it on the fly.

Last thing. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about the 'closed' nature of iBooks and iTunes. I say, if you think it's too closed, use a different app. I get the majority of my e-books via the Kindle app. If I don't like the way a particular newspaper's app works, I just go direct to the web. Like most things, the iPad is mostly limited only by the imagination of the user. In terms of teaching and learning, I just have not hit a major snag yet. That is not to say there isn't one... I just have not run into it.

Is this device the be-all-and-end-all? To be honest, I really do not care. It works for me so far. Next step is to see how it works for the students. And on that front, our school is starting an iPad pilot program to complement the tablet PC program. Ultimately, I see all of these devices as relative within a BYOD environment.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Great review of the iPad. Personally the only thing I do not like to do on the iPad is read books. I still prefer my Kindle for that because I find it much less strain on the eyes. But I love some of the apps like Flipboard which is a great way to pull together social media and news.

  2. I have yet to jump on the iPad bandwagon because I love the stylus on my Tablet PC. You mentioned Penultimate which looks wonderful and yet this is the first time anyone I've asked about inking on an iPad has offered up a solution. So thank you! I you use a stylus to do the handwriting? I confess the fingers-only approach doesn't appeal to me.

  3. Sound note is a great app to take notes and record meetings or classes too. I love my IPad 2. I am continuously learning how to do something new on it everyday.

  4. I've just got an iPad so I'll be checking out those apps. I had kids using them in class today and it was great - they all completed a simple poster using Neon Images and Fancy Pages, we would never have got them finished on a computer publishing application.

    I love the way they are allowing us to focus on the teaching and design rather than learning to use the platform.

    But ironically, it wouldn't let me comment because I can't get through the captcha and I've had to jump on my laptop.

  5. I totally agree with your review. i-pad is more compatible and it is also very good for study purpose as per my view. Online Learning

  6. Hey!
    thanks to give us knowledge about i-pad.
    your post really made me understand.

  7. Your review of the iPad 2 is pretty much right on. It is a great tool and I believe the three greatest features are portability, sharing and battery life. I believe it is certainly a viable device for students to use in school.

    I still don't believe that it is a total replacement. You mentioned typing and although it isn't hard, I certainly would not want to type for a long period of time as a laptop and/or desktop are infinitely faster. But, I don't believe it was meant as a total replacement at this time.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the iPad!

  8. I am seriously considering an iPad or other reader. The one thing I am struggling with is the need to read PDFs. I have hundreds of PDFs, many of them math articles.

    Have you tried to read PDF article on the iPad? If so, how does it reflow the articles? Does the math come through well?

    Honestly, this is the one need I have, and none of the reviews of any reader or pad have touched on this need! Thank you so much for any information!

  9. There is a great app called iAnnotate which is a fabulous way to read pdfs and mark them up as well.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I am joining a school in August that will be piloting iPad2 in the middle school. Does anyone have a list of "teacher approved" apps that are relevant and appropriate for middle school?

  12. @gwaddellNVHS iBooks reads PDFs.

  13. I found an iPad app called Confer to document and arrange for individual and group work for project objectives, needs, and next steps. But it didn't quite do what I needed. Now I have created a Google Form, which I complete while wandering the room conferring with students using the iPad -- so much easier than notepads or a laptop. And then the resulting spreadsheet allows me to manage the information in the ways that I need for planning and reporting. So remember to use what you know-- for me for it's Google Apps and my iPad. (G-Whizz is a great app for Google apps).

  14. Thanks for the concise review of iPad -- will look for your pilot program reflections.

  15. Okay, but what does it do BETTER than a my view...very little.

  16. I am very excited to purchase an iPad so that I can offer reading tutoring anywhere in a very convenient fashion.

  17. I have two caveats that make me not wanting to buy this device:
    1. You mentioned the ability to use Google Apps but the iPad does not allow you to edit Google Sites. Do you know if there is an App for that?
    2. A very powerful tool for conceptual understanding are the simulations created by the University of Colorado at Boulder
    but they don't work on the iPad.
    I guess I will be testing the Chromebooks instead.

  18. Very interesting post. I got an iPad2 recently and have been disappointed with the functionality, mostly because I read sooo many articles about how the iPad can basically replace a laptop. That has not been my experience AT ALL.

    I rarely use the iPad because of the following limitations:

    1) Cannot edit Google Sites
    2) Wordpress app is limited
    3) Cannot open or send email attachments
    4) Cannot play videos from many sites (Hulu, etc.)
    5) Syncing with Dropbox is a bit of a hassle
    6) Google Reader will not let you scroll down to read an entire post

    There's more, but that's what comes to mind at the moment. Those are the basic things I do online: blog and write web articles, watch videos on free sites (most of which are flash-based), check my RSS feed, and respond to emails. It just seems like everything is a bigger hassle with the iPad, when I could just whip out my MacBook Pro and do everything with no problem.

    I am trying to get more use out of my iPad, but it just doesn't meet most of my needs. Every article I read like yours, though, gives me hope. New apps are being released daily and compatibility continues to improve.

  19. @Angela

    1. Yes, I always do website builds on the laptop. Though rumor has it that Wix will be going html5 -- that would be great and more perhaps more functional than Google Sites. We'll see.

    2. Once you set up your WordPress blog, the app for publishing is pretty straight forward. BlogPress works great for Blogger -- haven't tried on WP. And recently I have been exploring the tumblr options -- the Tumblita app is encouraging.

    3. I haven't had any problem with attachments. I do all my mail through Gmail courtesy of the awesome G-Whizz app.

    4. Hulu is basically in competition with iTunes Video; they do have a monthly pay app that is cheap, but limited. For most on-site video (such as at the Daily Show), I just use SkyFire and have no problem. YouTube of course comes installed as an app, as well.

    5. Haven't had any problem with Dropbox app. In fact, Dropbox, SoundCloud, and Evernote are the three Cloud storage apps I use most and they all work great.

    6. I gave up on Google Reader some time ago, so I can not speak for that. I find myself using Flipbook and Pulse for news and blogs.

    Thfat's just been my experience. Thanks for the comment.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.