Can I teach a technology course using only my ipad?

This fall I will be teaching an undergraduate course in educational technology. I have a small number of students registered for the course (the time slot of the other section is apparently much more appealing) and this is my first time teaching this course.

After three years of lugging an entire bag of tech equipment to and from campus, I started to daydream about what it might be like to have all of my required tech gadgets comfortably inside my purse. This fall I will also have a baby and diaper bag in tow, and so lessening what I carry seems essential.

There are a number of reasons I feel confident I might be able to teach this course using an ipad rather than my MacBookPro (my tool of choice for all of the other classes that I’ve taught):

1) The course exists in a mac lab, so I will have access to a computer if I absolutely need one.
Let’s face it, the iPad is not a computer. As a graphically-oriented person, I can’t imagine creating a keynote presentation on an ipad that doesn’t allow me to simultaneously browse between the web, my photos, and the presentation app. Could I create presentations on an iPad? Yes. Am I willing to do so knowing it would take me four times longer and I probably wouldn’t love the result? Nope. I imagine much of my course preparation will happen at home on my MacBookPro, so having a computer available in my classroom might be essential if I need to fix or change a presentation last minute. So, while I will still rely on my computer for course preparation, I believe that an iPad is a sufficient tool for supporting in-class activities.

2) Apps can take the place of many of the computer-based documents I used to track student progress, grades, etc.
After brainstorming, I have concluded that I need an app (or apps) to do the following: attendance, grading, presenting, and note-taking. So far I have only bought an app for attendance. Despite the large number of grading apps available for the iPhone, there are only a few gradebook apps available for the iPad. I found GradeBookHD and GradesHD, but both lack positive reviews…or reviews at all, in the case of GradesHD. I will keep my eye out for new gradebook apps or positive reviews of the existing apps. As far as presentation, I hesitate to buy the $9.99 Keynote app based on the mixed reviews. Since I don’t plan to create presentations on the iPad, I need to find out if my iPad will play keynote presentations without the app. Otherwise I might be better using the google app to present via google docs. Luckily the notes app pre-installed on the iPad will work fine for my note-taking needs.

3) An accessory will allow me to project using my ipad.
I have found that during most of my in-class time, my computer is hooked up to the projector providing visual stimulation for whatever we are discussing. I rarely “present” in lecture format. More often, I project discussion questions, images, or student work. The iPad to VGA connector will allow me to project from multiple apps on my iphone. For teachers, the $29 price tag seems like a worthwhile investment.

I am interested to hear others’ experience attempting to use the iPad in teaching situations, regardless of the course content. I expect education-related productivity apps to drastically increase as teachers begin to plan their return to school this fall.

About Leslie Gates

I like colors without names.
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4 Responses to Can I teach a technology course using only my ipad?

  1. Leslie, nice post. At Best Buy I bought an iPad to VGA connector. The Apple rep took me to the display area and handed me a connector from a different vendor (a little less expensive than the Apple brand). At home I connected my iPad to my TV and now I can watch Netflix streaming movies. It took a while for the iPad to communicate correctly with the TV and there were a few glitches and delays but everything was working fine after a few starts.

  2. Leslie Gates says:

    Thanks, James. Do you know anything about (or have experience with) the iWork apps (Keynote, Numbers, Pages) for the iPad?

  3. I used part of my Apple Card to purchase iWorks for my laptop. Should be here in a day or two. I bought Numbers and Pages for my iPad and have used them for a few things. There is a learning curve and they are not Excel or Word but they cost $9.99. They work well, quickly, smoothly. Reviews concerns are, to sync docs from iPad to computer you have to file share through iTunes. But, if you have a Mobile Me account I think they sync over the cloud. Even though I have experimented with other note taking apps, the more I use the iPad the more I go to Pages to handle text. It just seems so quick and easy. I have been wondering if I should try Bento for all the data I manage during conference time. But I think I will always want/need the MacBook Pro and Excel to keep track of all that.

  4. Really great observations here! Your situation is unique and its going to make a huge contribution to folks out there to see you document your exploration of this configuration this fall – especially our art educators – as they attempt to take an iPad beyond just a cool “content out” type of device, which seems to be what most folks are using the tool for so far!

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