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Five ways to use iOS 5 on the iPad 2 in the Classroom

More and more teachers are starting to use their iPads in the classroom. It’s a great for taking notes in the classroom. Some schools are even using iPads with their students. iOS 5 turns the iPad 2 into an even more powerful teaching tool.

#5. iMessage allows iOS 5 users to send each other unlimited text messages by the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

If you teach at a large school or campus, it can be hard to track down your colleagues. Sometimes, it’s easier to text other teachers than it is to walk around and try to find them. Great if you have an unlimited texting package… Not so great if you’re paying per text. With iOS 5, we now get iMessage (which is basically BBM for Apple users.) Teachers on iPads and iPhones can send text messages, photos, videos, and contacts for free using your school’s Wi-Fi (or your own 3G data plan.)

#4. iCloud and Photo Stream makes it easier for you to get photos on your class website… (But the QuickShot app is probably still a better choice)

If you have a classroom website and a camera at school, then chances are, you’ve looked for a quick and easy way to get your photos on the class website.
  • Maybe you just took a photo of a blackboard or flipchart lesson and you want to post it online for your students to study from.
  • Or perhaps it’s a snapshot of a science experiment.
  • Maybe it’s a pic of your school play so that you can celebrate your students’ successes.
The easier it is to get your photos onto your computer, the easier it is to get those photos to other places, like the printer, photo lab, or on your website. Chances are, if you took some photos at school, you had to connect your camera or phone to your computer, transfer the photos over, and then upload the photos to your website. If you didn’t have your connection cable at school, then you had to wait till you got home and hopefully you didn’t get distracted somewhere in between. (Things might have been a little bit easier if you used dropbox. For example, you could use the QuickShot app to automatically send specific photos that you take on your iPhone or iPad directly to your dropbox account which would then be automatically synced onto your desktop computer.) With iOS 5 and Photo Stream, every photo you take on an iOS device can automatically be pushed to your other IOS devices, iPhoto on the Mac, or the pictures library on the PC. (You need Windows 7 or Windows Vista to use iCloud on a PC. Windows XP is unfortunately not supported.) iCloud stores new photos for 30 days and has a special Photo Stream album that remembers the last 1000 photos. On a PC or Mac, you can set up your computer to automatically import every picture from the Photo Stream into the photo library on your computer so that things don’t get lost from the iCloud. But this begs the question… What teacher in their right mind would want to install Photo Stream on their work computer so that every photo that they took with their IOS device streams through their school computer? Because the Apple iCloud/Photo Stream doesn’t give you a way to select which photos get pushed to all of your devices, it probably makes more sense for teachers to use an iPad app to manually pick which photos they would like to transfer to their school computer wirelessly. QuickShot with Dropbox is a neat app because it lets you take a photo and automatically sync this photo to a set folder in your dropbox (as well as keeping a copy in your iPad photo library.) Or, you can choose an existing photo or video from your photo library and upload that to your dropbox account.

#3. Multitasking gestures for iPad 2 makes it easier to get around while taking notes in the classroom.

The cool thing with iOS 5 and an iPad 2 is that with the swipe of your hand (four or five fingers), you can flip left or right to switch between different apps. You can also swipe up to show the multitasking bar or pinch to return to the home screen. This means that everything can be done with touch gestures on your iPad, instead of pushing the home button. Let’s say you’re writing an e-mail to one of your parents and you want to check some of your marks in your MarkBook or TeacherPal app, and you also want to look over some of the anecdotal notes you made using the iPad notes app, notetaker HD, or WriteRoom. Now it’s just flip, flip, flip to quickly switch between the different apps. (That’s a bit quicker than clicking the home button, and then clicking the app you want in the multitasking bar below.)

#2. iOS 5 can now automatically and wirelessly sync your iPad to your Mac or PC (or backup things on iCloud)

It’s called Wi-Fi sync. This one is huge for everyone, let alone teachers. All you have to do is plug-in your iPad to charge up at night and iOS 5 will automatically connect to a shared Wi-Fi connection, and backup your device. No cables required.
  • How often do people connect your iOS devices to their computer to back up their information on iTunes?
  • How often do people plug their IOS devices to charge them up?
If teachers are starting to use the iPad as a serious teaching device or notetaking system, then we need to make sure that we don’t lose our student information or marks right before report cards. (After all, the closer we get to report cards, the more likely something goes wrong.) Sure, some apps allow you to back up your data to dropbox. For example, the TeacherPal app lets you click a button to backup your marks to your dropbox account. But there’ve been a few times that the app simply crashed while trying to back up a relatively large file. If we can automate the backup process, it becomes a lot easier to recover from a disaster. Apple gives you 5 GB for free, which is apparently “plenty for most people.” (It might not be enough for you, if you have an iPad which starts at 16 GB of space.… Or, if you have several IOS devices that you want to backup on your iCloud account.) Each additional 10GB of storage costs $20 per year.

#1. iOS 5 now lets you show everything that you see on your iPad up on the projector screen or TV. (And not just certain apps, but every app.) This is what we’ve been waiting for.

Video Mirroring. Wow. The most exciting iOS 5 feature for teachers has got to be AirPlay mirroring. This one looks incredibly promising. You need an iPad 2 (or iPhone 4S) but basically it means you could potentially teach using your iPad. There are a few apps that let you handwrite notes on the iPad. Using the Note Taker HD app, you could effectively get rid of your overhead projector.
  • Instead of using an overhead projector and writing notes on a transparency, you could take handwritten notes using an app like Note Taker HD.
  • Instead of photocopying a page onto an overhead transparency, you could simply scan the page as a PDF and then import that into notetaker HD. Now, you can annotate on top of the photocopy with your handwritten notes.
  • The note taker HD app even lets you insert photos (from your iPad’s camera roll, from your iCloud’s Photo Stream, or even from a new photo you just took using the camera on your iPad 2)
(Mind you, the NoteTaker HD app had these feature before iOS 5, but now AirPlay will allow you to mirror any app on the big screen, not just AirPlay enabled apps like NoteTaker HD.)
  • If you teach astronomy, there are some great astronomy star chart apps.
  • Some apps like global TV allowed you to stream video onto your iPad. Unfortunately, before iOS 5, you couldn’t show this on the big screen or data projector. (YouTube was fine, but third-party video apps weren’t guaranteed to work.) Now, with iOS 5, an iPad 2, and the Apple VGA connector, you can show specific scenes from Glee (that may not be available on YouTube.)
  • Some teachers use an Elmo (document projector) that have a camera so that you can show your students what you’re looking at. With iOS 5 and Apple TV 2, imagine being able to walk around your classroom, pull out your iPhone 4S or your iPad 2, turn on the camera and show the class someone’s math manipulative answer to the problem of the day.
Here are a few things to note: The Apple composite AV cable connector won’t cut it. When using an iPad 2, iOS 5, and the Apple composite connector to connect three wires to a TV (1 video, 2 audio), you only get YouTube and a few airplay enabled apps to work. Depending on your TV, you may get a flickering image with the Note Taker HD app. You won’t be able to see the home screen or any app you like. (AirPlay mirroring won’t work using a composite AV cable. It seems you need a digital signal for the video mirroring magic to work.) The Apple VGA connector will allow you to mirror your iPad 2 (iOS 5) properly on a computer monitor or data projector. You can show the home screen and it rotates in real time when you turn it sideways or vertically. Any app you can see on your iPad 2 seems to show currently on the big screen. You can even Skype using your data projector and a camera on your iPad 2 which opens doors to teleconferencing with a class overseas. Unfortunately, this Apple VGA connector uses a very short cable which means you’ll literally have to stand beside your projector. The dream set up is to use Apple TV 2, which will wirelessly stream whatever’s on your iPad 2 to your projector. The only downside is that Apple TV 2 requires an HDMI connection. Newer classroom projectors may have an HDMI input, but older projectors will certainly not. (You may be able to use HDMI to DVI cable, but there are no guarantees.)

Classroom Technology is evolving. How do you use your iPad in your classroom?

This post was written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5 Premium Wireless Five ways to use iOS 5 on the iPad 2 in the Classroom. Students and teachers can qualify for an academic discount but here are some things to know before you buy the academic Dragon version. We are compensated for our reviews. Click here for details. 
  • There are 1641 words in the first draft of this post. Dragon made 49 word errors. So, we had an accuracy of 97.0% in this document.
  • If you include punctuation and capitalization errors, Dragon made an additional 15 punctuation and capitalization errors. So, we had an accuracy of 96.1% in this document.
Here are some of the word errors made by Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5:
  • desktop computer = desktop teacher
  • you had to connect your camera = yet the connect your camera
  • iOS 5 = IOS five
  • iMessage = I message
  • teach at a large school = teach a large school
  • Great = Grade
Here are some of the punctuation / capitalization errors made by Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5:
  • text other teachers = text, other teachers,
  • phone’s = phones
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