Interested in teaching with an iPad Pro? Wondering what iPad Pro apps you’ll need? In this post, I review the 6 apps for teaching with the iPad Pro you’ll want to use regularly to deliver presentations, create and annotate documents, and use the iPad Pro as a mobile whiteboard in your classroom.
The Bare Minimum: iPad Pro Apps for Teaching Synchronous Classes, Course Materials, and Communicating with Students
- A cloud storage app: Because mobile devices lack (for all intents and purposes) an internal file storage system, teaching with an iPad Pro means that everything starts and ends with a cloud storage system. In addition to being a standalone iPad Pro app, you will link your cloud storage app with other apps (such as Powerpoint, Word, etc.) to access all the relevant filetypes within the app itself. Which cloud storage iPad Pro app you choose will depend on a variety of factors, including: what you’re already familiar with, what (if any) cloud storage system your university uses, and what cloud storage system easily integrates with your university’s Learning Management System (e.g. Blackboard).
Other options: I also use Google Drive to store larger files (like feature-length films) because my school subscribes to Google Apps for Education, which comes with a free, unlimited Google Drive (normally, Google Drive is limited to 15 Gb). Other options include OneDrive (which, if your school subscribes to Office 365, comes with 1Tb of free storage!) and Box (10Gb free). Remember, though, that you should, whenever possible, keep your files in a cloud storage platform that is tied to you and not your institution. That way, if you ever change institutions, or if your institution changes providers, you will not have to worry about migrating (or potentially losing!) all of your files.
- A presentation app: One of the best functionalities of teaching with the iPad Pro is that you can use it as a mobile whiteboard or projector screen in your classroom. But, you will need an iPad Pro app to show your presentations.
Other options: Google Slides, Haiku Deck, PDF Expert ($10), Canva.
- A whiteboard app: When teaching with the iPad Pro, you might want to be able to it like a blank whiteboard and the Apple Pencil like a piece of chalk/dry erase marker. If you typically find yourself using up a lot of boards during a class session, and wishing you could save and share those boards after class, then you should try out some of these iPad Pro apps. Note that I have not yet settled on my own preference–none of them has all of the functionalities I would like to see.
Options, in my current order of preference: Evernote (which has free and paid versions), Paper (free), Word (free with school subscription)–you must create blank documents), PowerPoint (free with school subscription)–you must create blank slides, and Apple’s built-in Notes app (free).
- A word processing app: If you are teaching with the iPad Pro you will also want to be able to create and share course documents. For that, you will need a word processing iPad Pro app, preferably one that easily creates files in standard formats.
Other options: Google Docs (free). Pros: automatically syncs changes across all devices; cons: requires you to edit documents in Google Docs from desktops and laptops; does not take advantage of Apple Pencil. Scrivener ($10). This is my go-to for scholarly writing, but I think it is actually overkill for course document creation because it involves too many steps to save the document/writing you create as a standard filetype.
- A web browser: To be able to upload documents to course websites, you need a web browser. (Note: The Blackboard app is so limited that it is not worth downloading, even if your school uses Blackboard). This is really personal preference; I tend to use Safari, which comes on the iPad Pro. Well-known alternatives include Firefox and Chrome. I am not an expert on web browsers, so see this comprehensive article comparing the features of 10 free web browsers if you are interested in additional alternatives, and in-depth feature comparisons.
- An email app: To communicate with students, you will need an email app. Because I have set up the back end of my university and personal email accounts (through Gmail) with multiple folders and filtering rules, I prefer the default iPad Pro app, Mail. If you struggle to get a handle on your Inboxes, though, check out some of the alternative email apps.
2 Additional Apps That Make Teaching with an iPad Pro more Useful
- An app to annotate assignments: The iPad Pro is the first tablet I’ve owned that truly makes annotating documents a joy. Regular iPads cannot differentiate between a stylus and your hand, which means that you cannot rest your hand naturally on the screen when annotating. Consequently, you must hit several buttons to switch between “annotating” and flipping pages modes. The iPad Pro uses bluetooth to identify where the Apple Pencil is, meaning that you can just write with the pencil to annotate and swipe with your finger to flip pages. What is more, now that I can rest my hand and arm fully on the tablet, my handwriting is as legible on the iPad Pro as it is when I write by hand. This combination makes the iPad Pro, for me, the first tablet I can use to grade.
Other options: iAnnotate 4 ($10). It is comparable to PDF Expert, but I like PDF Expert’s interface better. It has the ability to add sound recordings to files (if you want to give students oral feedback), but lacks the ability to combine PDFs. Word (free with university subscription): if your students are submitting Word documents to begin with, and you will primarily be handwriting comments, then Word might be all you need. If you plan to add extensive comments and highlight/underline/strike through portions of text, though, then you should go with PDF Expert.
- A calendar app: If you use the iPad Pro as your primary computer when on campus, you will also want to keep track of your appointments and add other commitments to your calendar that syncs across all your devices.
Other options: Calendar (free). I am not a calendar app expert, either: I have found what works for me, and stuck with it. Check out this comprehensive article if you are looking for other calendar app options with advanced functionalities.
There you have it! All the apps you need to get started teaching with the iPad Pro! Have additional app suggestions? Leave a comment below or email me!