Top 6 Reasons to Use, or Not to Use, an iPad in Teaching

If you are still thinking whether to get an iPad (or not) for teaching, you might want to read my 6 reasons to use (or not to use) an iPad in teaching.

Reason #1: Portability.
The iPad’s size is just so perfect that it’s not trying hard to be a cellphone nor a laptop. Its portability can actually compete with that of netbooks – the iPad’s battery can hold up to 10 hours of usage which some netbooks or laptops can’t offer yet. My 3-yr-old MacBook Pro (early 2008 model) currently offers me up to 1.5 hours of work only so definitely I’d rather go with a device that would require lesser times to recharge. If you’ll be deciding on a lightweight tablet that has a longer battery capacity and a heavy laptop with shorter battery capacity that you would use when traveling, which of these would you get?

Reason #2: Always On The Go.
Along with the reason of portability is that this awesome tablet offers a great deal of being always on the go. It’s so easy to use it just like your usual cellphone wherein you can jot down notes and even take pictures or videos with ease and share it right away on the social networks. No need to wait for very long boot-up times, just switch it on where you left off and then you can start using it in your classroom as easy as pie. No need for shutdowns as well.

Reason #3: Apps. (There’s an app for that!)
My last (and best) reason for getting an iPad is the availability of apps that you can use for teaching and learning. There are lots of websites out there which already discussed numerous reasons for using an iPad in education. One of those websites that I would like to share is APPitic, a collection of more than 1300+ apps for education created and organized by Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs). This directory is so great that the apps were organized into different subjects, themes and even grade levels. Check APPitic now!

These are very great reasons to use an iPad for teaching! However, here are some of my reasons NOT to use it (though most of these are not really big deal to me). 🙂

Reason #0: No Flash support.
There can be educational websites that can only work if your browser supports Flash (e.g. Flash-based learning objects) but then again, it’s not really a big deal because I’m actually encouraging my students to use websites based on HTML5 instead. So goodbye Flash! 🙂

Reason #1: Your school’s WiFi doesn’t support your device.
The iPad is a very powerful device especially if it’s connected to the Internet. However, if your school doesn’t support this device completely such as having complicated proxy servers then I doubt that you’ll still be able to harness the potential of the device. In my experience in the university, not all of my apps are supported in my its WiFi network. At times, some of my students even approach me because they have a hard time configuring it on the university’s WiFi network. Although this problem might be considered very limiting, if your iPad has 3G access then you can just use it or simply get yourself your own mobile WiFi (MiFi) or Portable Hotspot. I use a Samsung Galaxy Ace to provide my own WiFi – at least my WiFi’s more stable and sometimes even faster than my computer lab’s WiFi network. Say goodbye to the complicated proxies that block your apps!

Reason #2: Password security.
This security issue actually applies to any brand of tablet computer. If you’ll be using your iPad (or any tablet) while being displayed on your LCD projector, I suggest that you disconnect or turn your projector to “no show” first whenever you’ll need to input your password on a certain website or app. Imagine your students figuring out your password easily by focusing on the screen for every character that you type. Scary! I just hope that Apple gets to have a configuration that can enable or disable preview for each character that is being typed by the user on the password field.

Reason #3. Limited Mail Attachments support.
If you’re a teacher who needs to send a lot of mail attachments in different file formats, then you might have a difficult time doing them. The usual method is to select a file and look for the “Email <file>” option which is different from what we normally do on a typical computer wherein we compose an email first and then attach files. Of course, it requires some practice or getting used to it. If you have a problem opening some types of files (e.g. zipped files), just get the GoodReader app so that you can manage your files, zip and unzip them and even open the files on other apps too. If you want a viewer for your OpenDocument formats, you can simply download the free app called FileApp. 🙂

So here are my reasons for using an iPad in teaching. As you might have notice, my reasons for using it outweigh the reasons for not using it. I already included a workaround for each of the issues I have in using the iPad because these simply work. Besides, I believe that every teacher should be creative and resourceful enough in every possible way when using technology. 🙂

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