March 26th marked the 1 year anniversary of the iPad. Because of COVID-19, most schools and higher education institutions have transitioned online. What better time to talk about my experience with using my iPad in the classroom and to get homework done.
My experiences here are centered around my 2018 (9.7″) iPad. Your mileage may vary with other models, such as the iPad Pro.
With COVID-19, one-on-one interactions are highly discouraged due to social distancing. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook and numerous other services have become the new way of communicating through these difficult times.
Most of my video conferencing has been done through Zoom on my MacBook. But I did attend one meeting via Google Meets (Hangouts) on my iPad.
I prefer video conferencing on the Mac, but it’s not impossible on the iPad. As far as Google Meets, you were only offered one view, instead of being able to see all participants at once like in the in-browser version. Video and sound quality are okay.
As a student, you’ll be writing papers, creating presentations and maybe even working with spreadsheets. The iPad is extremely capable at these tasks.
The go-to choice for most students is the Google Suite. While Google Docs is slightly limiting on the iPad, it’s still very usable. (I’ve written many papers and essays using it.) I created a presentation with Google Slides and didn’t have any problems. Ditto with Google Sheets, which I used for one of my jobs.
If you’re not a fan of Google Suite, there are alternatives. Apple’s own iWork collection (Pages, Keynotes and Numbers) is pre-installed on all iOS devices. Microsoft Office 365 is also available on the iPad – bringing the power of Word, PowerPoint and Excel to the small(er) screen.
Of course, web browsing, email, and other common functions run very well on the iPad.
Unfortunately, I found Blackboard – the student portal – to be the Achilles heel of using the iPad for academic purposes.
Blackboard lacks a good responsive design. While some things do scale, other things get messed up if you try to use Blackboard on your iPad – or, worse, your cell phone.
The Blackboard app isn’t a good alternative to the browser version. The Blackboard app, in some cases, is only good for checking your grade or maybe writing a discussion board. I don’t recall ever being able to submit an assignment or do anything else through Blackboard, and the layout is somewhat confusing.
The iPad isn’t for everyone. Before you ditch your main laptop, look at what you have to do. Are you just writing papers and answering emails? Or do you need something to do more advanced tasks like video editing or CAD? Also, be careful with Blackboard, as you may run into issues with using Blackboard on an iPad.