Many teachers are getting iPads these days, either because their school has invested in them, or they have bought one for themselves to see what the fuss is about.
So you now you have an iPad, what can you do with it? There are an overwhelming number of apps out there that you can get. They cover everything from telling you the weather to tracking the stars and the planets. The range is truly amazing.
To get you started, here’s some of the useful apps I’d recommend investigating. Some are free, others the price of a pint or so. For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll focus on some of the tools that would be useful to you as a teacher.
Links are to the US version of iTunes so other readers may need to do a search in the App Store to find the version for their region.
File storage / Transfer
Dropbox is probably one of the most useful applications I’ve used in years. It allows me to store files in the cloud. I can put files in my Dropbox folder on my PC and they’re immediately copied to an online space. This is synced with my laptop the next time I power it up. In addition, the Dropbox app on my iPad (and phone) allows me to access and view these files on my iPad – as long as I have an active network connection. You can get a free Dropbox account here.
Other apps also work with Dropbox too. So I can open a file for editing. And then save it back to Dropbox afterwards. This makes it much easier to get the files created on my iPad onto my PC.
Word Processing / Office Capability
Microsoft have yet to release an Office app for the iPad – so there’s a need to look at alternatives. I use Documents to Go. It’s not free – the Pro version is about 17USD or so… But this gives Dropbox features so I stumped up the extra. It gives me access to a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool.
The spreadsheet would make it possible to set up grade books and student record sheets without having to buy additional gradebook applications.
As an alternative, also check out Google Drive, which now works well on an iPad, and is free. If you already have a Google account (for gmail etc) then this gives you another way to store and access your files, as well as work collaboratively with others.
These two are my current apps of choice for taking notes in a meeting. If you use a handheld stylus you can then use handwriting in Notability. The app lets you copy pdf files from Dropbox and annotate over the top of them.
Evernote is a useful way of managing bits of information – I’ve used it for taking notes in meetings and also for taking photographs of powerpoint screens in meetings, parts of documents I need to remember or even student work. It syncs with the Evernote website so you can access your notes on your PC later.
It’s also worth taking a look at these note taking apps too :
There are a lot of options for getting content onto your iPad. In the UK BBC iPlayer is excellent. For accessing blogs try Flipboard. iTunes U has a lot of good videos on it. And for teachers you have to take a look at the BrainPop app too! It gives you a new free BrainPop movie every day.
To display content on your IWB you could either use the VGA adaptor, or investigate Apple TV which allows mirroring of your iPad screen. You just need to hook these up to your classroom projector.
There are many different apps that allow you to brainstorm and collect your ideas. Here are just a few of them.
These apps let you record short screencasts using the ipad as a whiteboard. Draw and annotate, plus record your voice to make revision guides, information broadcasts, and more.
iBooks comes as standard on iPads. It’s also worth getting the Kindle app too. Both give you access to a wealth of free books that are out of copyright. For English teachers you’ll find a lot of the classics are available for free. Also check out the Project Gutenberg website for e-books and pdf/txt versions of books that you could add to your library or access via Dropbox.
Here’s a selection of useful blogs, articles and documents that you might find useful
iPad Apps and Blooms Taxonomy – An Excellent post by Sylvia Tolisano
Classroom iPod touches & iPads: Dos and Don’ts – by Tony Vincent. Some good advice here. I love the idea of using wallpaper to simply label up each ipad/ipod. Nice idea.
InterAction Education : Some very useful guides for using iPads in the classroom
iPads for Learning – Australian educational site. Nice guides.
Got a favourite app for teachers that isn’t here? Share them in the comments below!
About the author: Danny Nicholson is a PGCE Science Lecturer and Interactive Whiteboard trainer. He blogs regularly at The Whiteboard Blog where you can find other useful guides for using your interactive whiteboard.