If you are one of the lucky people to get an iPad at your institution, you probably have been approached by colleagues asking, “what exactly can the iPad do for education?” Aside from extending the classroom with its portability, the iPad can also enhance learning inside the classroom as well. I have been exploring using an iPad with a projector, and I would like to share some of my discoveries.
First let’s talk about the dimensions and size…The iPad is 9.5 inches tall with a width of just less than 7.5 inches. The depth is an amazing .5 inch and only weighs 1.5 pounds. It also starts at 16GBs of storage. These specs sound very appealing to instructors who have to cart all of their files and a heavy laptop uphill across campus in the snow like the instructors in times past. Well, at least that is the story they tell us! Even though the iPad is sleek and light in weight, it does pack a powerful punch. Well maybe not the iPad itself, but rather the apps associated with the Apple Store are responsible for packing a punch.
Once I received an iPad here at work, I was very excited about all that I was going to accomplish with this new tool. But once I sat down and started using it, I became frustrated. I was having trouble locating apps that met my specific needs and I was not happy with the limitations of the iPad. Not displaying Flash Web sites was on the top of my list of frustrations. Additionally, I discovered that there is no camera and you can’t multitask (such as listening to music and surfing the Web). I thought, “Would faculty be able to benefit from this new Apple platform at all?”
I gave some thought to the iPad’s strongest attribute, its portability. I then wondered if I could present lectures and browse the Web from the iPad through the projector in one of my classes. There should be a way I can just take my iPad and leave my laptop and flash drives in my office, right? Instead of jumping all over the place on the web trying different apps, I did my research online and found the apps that I needed.
I purchased the VGA adapter to connect my iPad to the projector. I then connected my iPad and found only a few standard items would project. I was able to view videos on YouTube and I was able to view photos in my library. That was about it. Since I did my research first, I expected this outcome and I went right to the app store to get the other apps I would need.
I first downloaded a free app called MightyMeeting. This app gives you space on their server to upload PowerPoint and PDF files. I first had to create an account on their Web site, but after that I uploaded a few files from my desktop, I could now see all of my uploaded files on my iPad. I opened up my PowerPoint and it worked! It projected to the screen! It did not allow me to click on links or play animations, but I rarely use those in my presentations anyway.
Next on my list was being able to view sites on the Web. Since Safari would not project, I found a great app called ‘Expedition’ browser. This app was $4.99 marked down to $0.99, so I purchased that app without delay. This app works great, because not only can you browse the Web, but it also plays and projects video from Web sites such as CNN and MSNBC. Playing videos was a nice surprise that I did not anticipate.
I have been happy with my 2 new apps that allow me to use my PowerPoint, PDF files and the Web to project in class. I know there are plenty of more apps out there that can enhance learning, but I am taking one step at a time and finding the specific app that meets my needs. Next on my list will be editing and creating Word documents on my iPad…