How to use AirDrop – iOS 7’s most important new feature for teachers

When Apple announced Airdrop this past June, I knew it would be a great feature for teachers with iPads. A common complaint about iPads in the classroom was that it wasn’t necessarily easy to transfer student work in the Camera Roll to the teacher. With no USB connection and no SD card slot, how was a teacher supposed to collect student work? Email would work for small files, but videos were much too large to send. Dropbox could be a solution, but that would require students to set up their own accounts, problematic if they are under a certain age. Enter AirDrop, a seamless and very quick way to transfer files via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections between “nearby” devices.

To send a file via AirDrop, both devices must have iOS 7, and have both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on. If the sender info is not within the recipient’s contact list, “Everyone” has to be selected. This just requires a simple tap from the new Control Center (Swipe UP from the bottom of your screen to access Control Center).

Airdrop uses both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so the devices do not need to be connected to an existing Wi-Fi network in order to share items via Airdrop. (Thanks, Rick for the addendum!)

In my testing, photos were shared instantly, while videos just took a few seconds, depending on their length. As soon as a file is successfully shared, it will open, and also be imported into the recipient’s Camera Roll. Early testing of AirDrop also shows that it can be used within apps such as Evernote and Vimeo. Notes and Contacts can also be shared via AirDrop.

Applications for AirDrop in the classroom

We see with a variety of content-creation appsallows projects to be saved directly into the Camera Roll. Students can create presentations within apps such as Explain Everything or iMovie. When the projects are complete, they simply invite the teacher to click “Accept” under AirDrop. Once the transfer is complete, the teacher has the final versions of whatever was assigned. S/he can then collect the projects from all the iPads in the class. All of them can then be organized and grouped into categories within the teacher’s Camera Roll, where they can be assessed. If WIFI is strong in the classroom, this is a much faster and easier transfer process than email.

Below: Once your recipient taps “Accept”, it just takes a few seconds to transfer files.

As time progresses, we will see more AirDrop integration within other third-party apps. However, I believe the Camera Roll sharing will be a huge feature of AirDrop, as soon as devices upgrade to iOS 7, and that recognition of this neat file-sharing highlight is spread to all iOS teachers. I look forward to when Apple adds sharing between iOS devices and Macs, an option sure to come in the near future.

Airdrop is unfortunately not available on older devices. Not all devices which have iOS 7 can use Airdrop. These are the compatible devices:

  • iPod touch Fifth generation
  • iPhone 5 or 5s
  • iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina-Display
  • iPad 4 / iPad Air




13 Comments Add yours

  1. Rich says:

    Great post – the only technical correction I’d like to point out is that while AirDrop uses both bluetooth and wifi, the devices don’t need to be connected to an existing wifi network in order to share items via AirDrop, which could be implied in the post. AirDrop connections between devices use wifi to communicate to each other rather than requiring each device to be connected an existing wifi network…
    Keep up the great work – very helpful information here

    1. Thanks for the comment Rick. I appreciate that. I haven’t myself tried Airdrop sans wifi yet. I’ll make sure I check that out soon!

  2. Brad wright says:

    For older devices, might I suggest Pic Share It. Works for transferring from iOS to iOS or iOS to Mac. It’s free to download.

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