I sent an email detailing how I use my iPad as a teacher, and thought I may as well repost it here.
# How long have you been using your iPad for work?
Warning: Nostalgic rant ahead.
I am a teacher in a Primary School.
I started with an iPad 3 in 2012 (my first iPad), then bought an Apple TV shortly after when I learnt about its airplay mirroring feature and saw its potential in a classroom setting. Getting it up and running in my classroom was one learning point after another. The school wifi blocked AirPlay, which meant I had to get my own router, which in turn meant purchasing a 3G dongle and signing up for a data plan so my iPad could still be connected to the internet. Then there was the issue of the projectors in certain classrooms not having hdmi ports. Hdmi to vga adaptors distorted the image, so for a while, it was back to a MacBook Air running Airserver until finally, the projectors were upgraded to sport HDMI ports.
And at the same time, the other challenge was learning to get things done on an iPad so it would at least be comparable to my school-issued laptop in terms of functionality (else there would be no point). I have to credit Federico of Macstories for all the apps he has recommended. It was a messy period of testing one app after another, because again, it's rare that you find this one perfect app which does everything you want, so I found myself constantly evaluating the value of one app against another. I have included screenshots of my home screen, and you will see many apps inspired by how he uses his iPad.
Not to mention the process of getting my teaching material onto my iPad, which meant uploading them to Dropbox, and converting all the word documents to PDF format.
Fast forward to today. I upgraded to an iPad mini 2 (A5x just wasn’t cutting it), and am now using the 9.7” iPad Pro with 4g. The Apple TV supports peer to peer AirPlay, so I no longer need a router, and it is so much more stable. The Apple Pencil makes writing on PDFs a breeze. iOS has improved dramatically in terms of functionality.
# So how exactly do you use your iPad for work?
In the classroom, I mirror my iPad to the classroom interactive whiteboard (IWB) via a 3rd Gen Apple TV. My primary go-to app is Notability. All my teaching material is saved in dropbox and synced locally via Documents (and opened in Notability if need be). The key advantage here is that I have no problems working with pdf documents, unlike the rest of my colleagues (we are issued these Windows laptops with styluses, but lack the software to annotate on PDF documents).
This allows me to teach from anywhere in the classroom, which frees me up to circulate around the room and monitor my students more closely.
For classrooms where I can set up an Apple TV, it’s the lightning to VGA adaptor for me. I lose the freedom of moving around the classroom, but my app usage remains unchanged.
Other apps depend on the situation. I could set timers for timed assignments. Maps for a geography-based lesson. We are a heavy user of google apps, so I have all the google drive apps installed. Scanner Pro for quickly scanning any document I need in soft-copy (such as a student’s work) which I can then open in Notability to present to the class. The camera app occasionally gets used when I want to take photos of the class to upload to the class blog or as a makeshift visualiser (I have an iPad stand for holding it horizontally). Handy for when I want to demo a certain skill in real-time. Showme back when I was testing out the recording of lessons for a flipped classroom experiment (don’t do that anymore, but I kept the app installed because it makes an excellent whiteboard app).
Office is there just to open Microsoft documents while preserving the formatting. iWorks for documents I don’t need to share with other colleagues (love keynote for presentations).
Todoist is my main task management app. All my passwords are stored in 1password. Trying out Trello as an online resource repository. Copied saves text snippets which I expect to use on a regular basis, and to speed up the copy and paste sequence in general. I have also been playing around with Workflow and IFTTT, but haven’t really gotten the hang of them.
# What changed with the iPad Pro?
The Apple Pencil makes writing on PDFs a breeze. The iPad Pro is also extremely thin and light, and every bit helps when you are walking around the classroom holding it for an extended period of time. It is so much faster than my previous iPad mini 2, so less time waiting for apps to open and content to load and more time spent teaching. I don’t use the smart keyboard (primarily due to price, but also because my iPad is rarely used on a flat surface).
# Do you want to be able to do all your work on your iPad going forward?
I am always on the lookout for ways and means to get more work done on an iPad without the need to fall back on a computer (I have a 2011 27” iMac and a 2012 11” MBA as well), more for the convenience than anything else. For instance, spreadsheets are still a pain to edit on tablets.
My iPad Pro usually ends the day at under 30% batter life, and there are some days I don’t even switch on my computers at all.
# Do you use your iPad at all for personal/fun activities?
At home, my iPad is also my main entertainment device. I listen to podcasts (overcast app) and streaming music (Apple Music), watch youtube (with the protube app, as it supports PIP and background audio), Netflix, and do a ton of reading (Safari, Tweetbot, Reeder, Machash, Tapatalk for forums, Pinboard and a few other news aggregation apps), and light gaming as well. I also communicate using iMessage and Telegram, and sometimes make calls using continuity with my AirPods.
All in all, I like my iPad for its combination of portability, ease of use and battery life. I hope you enjoyed reading my post as much as I have enjoyed typing it.