Teaching with iPads – not child’s play

When iPads were introduced to one workplace, it was suggested that because even 2 year olds could use it, there wasn’t any real need for training in how to use them. In some ways, that was correct. Just press the icon for the game you want and away you go. But teachers don’t play games on their iPads when teaching. The icons for teaching apps can lead to highly complex apps that each have their own quirky ways to operate and interact with. Woe betide any teacher sauntering into a class to deliver a lesson using an iPad without lots of preparation.

iPads can easily confuse those teachers used to the Windows operating system as there isn’t a searchable file system. You can’t create a PDF using PaperNotes (for example) then leave it in a class folder containing myriads of other formats such as photos and Pages documents, as you can with Windows and Linux based operating system. At least not without installing a special app for this purpose such as File Hub. You can also use cloud storage such as Dropbox to get round this restriction.  Android tablets at least have searchable file system so that you can use Windows logic to do a lot of things there.

Another important obstacle for teachers to overcome is how to get access to the work students produce. There is no usb port so students can’t keep it on a usb stick.  If students own their iPad then they can create a Box.com or Dropbox account and share a folder with their teachers.

In a lab situation this can be a lot messier. Can you expect the students to log into their own cloud storage at the start of a session and log out of it at the end? Inevitably some students will forget to log out and expose their accounts to other users.

iPad lab

iPad lab

Could you put a generic cloud storage account on all iPads for students to use? Has anyone tried this?

If the work produced is a multimedia object that is in the photo app, then students can connect their iPads to a MacBook or PC to extract the work. Probably the best solution for an institution is to have a shared drive using a WebDAV server.

Providing material to students is a lot easier than getting it from them. Most cloud storage solutions enable you to provide a link to a folder that students can access with or without passwords. You just have to supply the students with the url. This is usually very long but if you use tinyurl.com, or justpaste.it you can give the students a short way to get to the folder.

So be warned  – lots of preparation is needed before heading into an iPad lesson if you don’t want the students to just play games!


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