Essential Classroom Hardware for Teaching with The iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is superior to a laptop or desktop in the university classroom. In this post, I tell you what hardware you will need to teach with the iPad Pro.

In a previous post, I comprehensively reviewed how the iPad Pro stands up to the main tasks of university professors and academics: teaching and research. Teaching synchronous classes is where the iPad Pro shines.
The iPad Pro offers these benefits over other classroom setups:

  1. The iPad Pro becomes a wireless whiteboard that moves with me around the classroom. I can take notes on it from anywhere, and they are projected onto the front screen.
  2. I can “hide” portions of my screen from my students, allowing me to take notes on points I would like to return to later, without interrupting students’ activity.
  3. I can upload the annotated slides to Blackboard, so students can review precisely what we discussed in class.
  4. For language professors: I can use the iPad Pro to record students’ partner conversations as I circulate around the room to get a more accurate assessment of their spontaneous oral production–something which we cannot readily get from at-home recorded activities on online homework platforms (students tend to rehearse–if not write out and read–these answers, meaning that they do not accurately reflect students’ spontaneous oral proficiency). I can then give them oral feedback to help them increase their proficiency.
  5. A small but significant timesaver: I can load my presentation or materials before class, and do not have to waste time logging in to the classroom computer, hoping it boots, and hoping my presentations display correctly on it.

To make this setup work, though, requires a few bits of hardware, in addition to the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. To know precisely what you will need for your particular classroom, you will need to check the following:

  • Does your classroom projector have an HDMI port? If not, does it have a DVI or VGA port?
  • Does your classroom projector have space where a 4″ x 4″ x 1.5″ box (dimensions of an Apple TV) could sit, with a cable running between them, and not obstruct the view?
  • If your classroom projector is located in the middle of the room, is there a spot on the wall close to the classroom computer where you can access its input cables?

Minimum Hardware You Need to Teach with the iPad Pro

To make your iPad Pro work as a wireless whiteboard that “casts” through your classroom projector, you will need the following hardware:

  • an Apple TV
  • an HDMI Cable long enough to stretch from where the Apple TV will sit to the projector (if your projector has an HDMI-in)
  • an HDMI to VGA or HDMI to DVI converter long enough to stretch from where the Apple TV will sit to the projector (if your projector does not have an HDMI-in port)

Supplemental Hardware You Might Want to Teach with the iPad Pro

  • a locking mount for your Apple TV, if you want to ensure it cannot be stolen if the classroom is left unlocked.
  • an extension cord, if your Apple TV must sit farther than 5 feet from an outlet (the power cord is quite short)

Ready to take the plunge? Check out the prices on iPad Pros and Apple Pencils on Amazon–significantly lower than those through Apple’s Education discount.

Or, have questions about setting up the iPad Pro in your classroom? Ask in the comments below or by email!

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