We’ve received a lot of interest on using Apple’s iPad in the classroom. This post will be the first of many relating to the iPad and it’s use in the classroom (both online and virtual). Future posts will cover apps and tools for faculty, apps for students, using an iPad to manage your Springboard course and many other topics.
What do I need?
Assuming you already have an iPad, there are two required items you’ll need and one optional item. To connect your iPad to a projector or display, you will need:
If you are planning on playing video with your iPad, or using anything with sound, you will also need an:
A quick word on iPads
Beyond the physical differences between the iPad 1 and iPad 2, there is are important differences in the video capabilities of the two iPads. Apple touts the iPad 2 as being twice as fast as the iPad 1 with 9x the graphics performance. The graphics processor is a big reason for the difference in capabilities between the two versions.
When connecting to an external monitor, an iPad 1 will generally only display video. It does not mirror your entire display. There are some other apps that are supposed to support external displays, Keynote for one. However, these apps don’t always display the entire app.
An iPad 2, however, will mirror the entire iPad display. When connected to a monitor, your home screen and all apps will be displayed on both the iPad and the monitor. When you rotate the iPad, the external display will also rotate.
Playing videos on both versions of the iPad works identically. On both iPads, the video will play on the external display, while the controls will remain on the iPad. The video is not mirrored.
Because of the advanced video capabilities of the iPad 2, the rest of this post will assume that you are using an iPad 2.
How do I connect my iPad 2?
Connecting your iPad is as easy as 1, 2, 3!
- Turn the projector or monitor on.
- Connect the VGA cable to the projector.
- Connect the VGA adapter to the VGA cable and connect to your iPad using the dock connector.
Once connected, your iPad will automatically recognize the projector and work. There are no hot keys to press like you might need on a laptop. You also don’t need to choose any special resolutions to work. The iPad will do all of the configuration for you.
How can I use the iPad 2 in the classroom?
In many cases, the iPad could probably be used instead of a laptop. Some of the apps and sites that we have tested include:
- Springboard – You can login to Springboard and share your content with your students. One word of caution, iPads will briefly display each letter of password as you type it. Be sure to login before connecting to the projector or you may end up giving your password away to your students.
- YouTube – The built-in YouTube app will let you search for and play videos to your class.
- Safari – The Safari web browser works great with an external monitor. You can share resources with your students. Or, by using different browser windows, you can prepare up to 9 sites to switch between in class. Imagine quickly jumping between 9 different news sources when discussing current events.
- Photos – Using the built-in photo app can replace a slide projector or Powerpoint of scanned images. You can easily swipe between images.
- Videos – Using the built-in video app, or Netflix, you could share a movie with your class. Keep in mind that while many video websites support the iPad, not all of them do. We suggest that you test your sources before you get to class.
- Twitter – Various Twitter apps can be a great way to stay in touch with current events. You can even set up a hash-tag for your course that students can share materials through. Twitter can also be used as a sort of back-channel discussion.
- News Apps – There are many great news apps that you may want to use. Some, like the NY Times and CNN apps provide a different interface to familiar sources. Others, such as Flipboard and Pulse allow you to combine multiple sources into a single app. Flipboard and Pulse even allow you to connect to Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.
- Books – Both Apple’s iBooks and Amazon’s Kindle apps work great. If you are using eBooks in your class, you can project what the students are actually looking at. You can also use iBooks to display PDFs of documents. This includes PDFs of presentations or your syllabus.
- Presentations – Using Apple’s Keynote app or Google Docs, you can share presentations with your class.
- Educational Apps – There are numerous educational apps available in the iTunes App Store. Some apps provide access to historical maps. Others provide access to interactive simulations. If you can think of it, there may be an app or website already optimized for the iPad.
As mentioned at the beginning of the post, we will provide more in-depth, follow-up posts on various apps in the future.