2 Teachers have 9 Thoughts as iPad Turns 5!


The iPad was first introduced almost exactly five years ago (February, 2010). Has time ever flown by! I remember the first impressions were mostly somewhat negative, and people wondered about their purpose. “Isn't it just a big iPod touch?” The name “iPad” was mocked by people everywhere.

Now, half a decade later, the iPad has become an incredible teaching tool for many educators. I would argue that anyone who is passionate about iPads in teaching has probably already tried it for themselves. Some have been more successful than others.

I had the pleasure, once again, to collaborate with Richard Wells from New Zealand (@ipadwells). His blog has very recently been chosen as one of the Global top 12 Teacher Blogs by The Huffington Post. His blog has several important infographics that we can all use in our teaching.

Together, we brainstormed a list of “iPad advice” for both seasoned and new teachers. This has been a work in progress for quite a few months.

For each “thought”, there is additional reading, relevant to each point. We hope that you can take time to check those out.

1. Richard: Never prescribe an app for a task. Let the students surprise you.


I was introduced to Green screening and stop-frame animation by my own students. Students continuously discover apps and will be keen to apply them to class tasks. In a flexible learning environment the teacher spends less time hunting out apps for students to use and more time devising learning intentions.

Richard: “Green Screening was introduced to me by my students. It revolutionized my classroom!”

Check out this slideshow describing how to use Green Screen Movie FX Studio

Check out this post describing DoInk’s Green Screen app

2. Steve: Know the ins and outs of how to troubleshoot potential roadblocks


If you are the “go-to” iPad person at your school, your students (and some coworkers) will regularly ask you how to do even the simplest tasks. Try to predict potentials roadblocks by practicing on your own before any iPad lesson. Try giving some of your new and exciting lessons with your family and colleagues and see if they have any questions to stump you.

Another consideration is to develop a small network of students that will help people in your class or even school with these common roadblocks.

Here are examples of student-run tech support teams.

3. Steve: Always continue to learn, but its okay to sometimes admit you don't know how to do something


We should strive to be lifelong-learners. That’s why you’re reading this article! While you should be the best at your teachable subject, your students need to realize that we aren’t infallible. When tough questions arise, learn the solution as a class. The learning of that topic, on your part, is professional development in itself. Keep up to date with the latest teaching tools. Attend iPad pro-d’s if available.

The views on iPad teaching have evolved over the 5 years and teachers are realizing that the traditional view that they must be the master of the classroom content does not have to apply to the use of technology. Consider what you’d like the students to be doing but let them discover the best way iPads might help.

4. Steve: Be wise in what you share online

Teachers are hopefully willing to share great creations made by students to other teachers, both within their schools/districts and also to a broader community. Take special care in how you share. Don’t publish full names, and make sure to get full parental consent if you want to post your students’ photos. As a professional, be careful and what you post about your personal lives as well, as it is an open book for all to read.

Read: How Teachers Should Stay Safe Online & Safe Facebook use in schools

5. Steve: Make the cloud an essential tool. Know how to use it efficiently, ie. back up student work


The cloud is a relatively new tool to a lot of people. Learn how to maximize its potential. Cloud storage is becoming more affordable, and free storage options still offer a lot of great sharing features. Discover sharing and collaborative features and learn about the different forms it comes in. Make sure what you upload is secure and safe. Educate your students, as cloud computing is here to stay. The iPads will operate with all main cloud platforms by Apple, Google, Microsoft and Dropbox.

Read: Dropbox for Dummies, Why You Shouldn’t Need your USB again.

6. Richard: Understand that, while the iPad is an incredible teaching and learning tool, it doesn’t change what works and doesn’t work in effective learning

iPads don’t always change students’ engagement or desire to learn. True success in the classroom still requires a teacher to create the right atmosphere for deep learning. More success is realized by teachers who create flexible learning spaces and set student-driven challenges that demand deep thinking whilst allowing the iPad to help student collaboration and present this thinking.

Read : iPad teaching is NOT about iPads

7. Steve: Don’t teach with an iPad just for the sake of it

Teachers need to have (or develop) a certain passion for integrating technology (not just iPads) into their everyday teaching. If it’s not really your cup of tea, don’t feel like you have to do it. Find your niche and go forward with it!

8. Richard: Worry less about “Wonder” apps and more about “Collaboration and Teamwork”

Why hunt for an app that can do everything, when tasks conducted in teams can demand each team member use the simplest of apps just to fulfil their team role.

Student A: Camera for photo evidenceStudent B: Notes or Pages for textStudent C: Simplemind for mind-mapStudent D: Blog setup & management for collating material and publishing

iPads also allow for collaboration between students in different classrooms or even schools. Here’s a “Connected Classroom Challenge” to test students’ ability to run projects whilst working remotely. This is great practice for 21st Century workflow.

9. Richard: iPads are still the most popular, flexible and successful device in education.

Whether it is the USA buying iPads in their millions or reports showing 86% of New Zealand schools have students using iPads, there is still a worldwide understanding that they are the easiest to integrate into classrooms. Educators around the world are often found discussing the benefits of active learning which the iPad continues to allow for in a way that laptops / Chromebooks don’t, keeping students rooted to one spot.

Read: Why I still recommend the iPad for schools


We hope you enjoyed this post and these thoughts. There will always be a place for the iPad in the classroom. We are excited to see where we head in the the next five years. Innovation of tech education is on a continuous journey, and the we are already seeing many possible ways to incorporate technology into our teaching.

Here are my other collaborations with Richard:

Analyzing iPad Myths in Education

The Habits and Philosophy of an Effective iPad Teacher

Thoughts? Additional comments? Please let us know!


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