iPad labs and exporting material

The problem with using iPads in lab situations where students have created something such as a photo, movie, Pages document, annotated document, or other file, is how do they export their creation? They can’t use:

  • a flash disk as iPads don’t have a USB port,
  • a web-based email account as few of them have the ability to add attachments in iOS. One notable exception is mail.com. However, even then it can only attach photos, not Pages docs nor other types of files as iOS lacks a native file manager like Windows Explorer to explore the iPad for other files,
  • a cable attached to a PC, again except for getting photos and movies out. In fact I could also get access to Explain Everything movies this way too.

As students will be using an iPad in a lab situation, they can’t just email a file as they can’t use the default mail client without going through the whole process of configuring the mail client. That is impractical in a lab situation where multiple students could be using it in one day or in one class.

Perhaps the best solution is to use WebDav to a server in the institution. Students could access this from their own PCs or iPads outside the college.

Another solution would be to create a Box.com account that all students could upload to. There could be just one folder for all the users, each class could have a particular folder, or, in the case of a small number of users, they could each have their own folders for privacy. Each of these folders could be easily accessed by student iPads, PCs or Macs outside the iPad lab. If a particular app in the iPad didn’t support a connection to Box.com then a generic account for another cloud storage solution that did work with that app could be created, such as  Dropbox,  Students would need to know the username and password of these cloud storage in case they were logged out, but in most cases it would be a seamless export.

Google’s product, GDrive, and Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud wouldn’t be suitable because if students needed the username and password they would be getting access to an email account and could potentially take control of that and use it maliciously. Of course with the Box.com or Dropbox username and passwords, these accounts could be taken over, but that is less serious than getting control of an email account that is tied to an institution.

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