Arriving at ULearn, I was excited to get my hands on the iPad! I had some experience with Apple products, being an iPhone owner, and, of course, having played with iPads at electronic stores. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the device other than that I hoped I could learn as much as I could, and gain some insight into how I could use this for teaching my digital class next year. I had brought my laptop with me in case the iPad didn’t do what I needed it to do. It turned out the only thing I ever used my laptop for over the whole 3 days was to sync to my iTunes account.
The iPad was better than I expected. I found the keyboard so easy to use, and loved the time saving predictive text function. Typing was so much easier on the iPad as I didn’t end up hitting other keys by mistake, which sometimes happens on a normal keyboard. The screen size was great, and there was no trouble using both hands to type.
I was able to connect easily to the internet, even to the dreadful third party Wi-Fi my hostel offered. I could also swap in and out of different Wi-Fi networks simply and quickly. There was no trouble connecting to my school webmail accounts or to any websites I needed for breakouts. I could also access my Google Docs account easily, but I did have trouble enabling the editing options, which seemed to be only available to desktop/laptop users, but that could simply have been my inexperience.
I was lucky enough to go to the fantastic iPad App Harvest breakout with Paula Jamieson, and got some fantastic app suggestions from there. One of the best suggestions I had was to get the Appshopper app, which allows you to search for free and discounted apps. Really handy to have, and I got a lot of great free apps from there in just one day.
Other apps I found which I have really liked were:
- Tour Wrist – a great app for exploring places and sights around the world,
- Prezi Viewer – to view Prezi presentations (my class uses Prezi a lot)- the only downside to this app is that you could not edit a Prezi.
- Elementals – was a great chemistry elements app I found free through App Shopper which is easy to use and interactive.
- WordPress -I also use the WordPress app a lot to update our class blog, and loved the layout and improvements in the iPad version. We will be continuing to use this next year and it will be great for students to use to update their own blogs.
- Storyform, Strip Design, Voicethread, Rocket Math, Word Bubble and Storie are also some favourites.
Using the iPad was such a highlight for me, and having that time to experiment and play around with it was great. I have come away from the whole experience with some fantastic ideas for my 1:1 iPad class next year, as well some great apps to use for different ability levels right across the curriculum. We have even decided to just use the built in keyboard the iPad has rather than buy separate ones for each of the kids.
A huge thanks to Glen and the team at CORE Education for letting me have the opportunity. I was very sad to have to give it back and can’t wait to get my own one in the next few weeks!
Tracy Tindle (@CrimsonNZ) is a year 7/8 teacher at Wellsford School. She is an ICT enthusiast, a recent Apple convert, and an e-book fan.
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