iPads in the Classroom: Moving beyond the App Store

iPads in the Classroom: Moving beyond the App Store

iPads, iPods and other tablets are becoming more commonplace in the classroom, and schools are filling their devices with lots of Apps. By doing this, teachers could be missing valuable opportunities to truly embed the use of technology into their curriculum.


Alexander Findlay speaking at BETT 2014

If teachers were offered just one device that was a camera and video recorder, had access to the internet, was a calculator and had a note-taking feature, how delighted would they be? It’s astounding how much the inbuilt functionality is overlooked as schools become pre-occupied with downloading Apps. From experience, the overloading of Apps and games can de-value the device, from a pupil’s perspective, as an educational tool. Here is a brief overview of some of the features, giving an insight of the scope in which the device can be used with a few basic Apps.


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Documenting and recording evidence of learning is time consuming and not always quite so straightforward. The Camera App, extends these possibilities. Photo and film making is the perfect way to capture work and provide instant feedback, whether it is in a PE lesson, where pupils review their technique, or a Science lesson where pupils film their experiment and playback as they write it up, the camera is quick and easy to use.

Whole class screen sharing is simple with the iPad as most classrooms have a projector connected to either a desktop or a laptop computer. An iPad wirelessly connected to the projector becomes a mobile visualiser, allowing teachers to teach from within their classroom, or pupils the opportunity to share their work from their desk either by displaying a photo/movie of their work, or by opening the Camera App and sharing and demonstrating their work ‘live’.

The ICT suite, or laptop trolley are a much sought after (or sometimes unreliable) resource. The “always on” instant and easy internet access that Safari provides, allows pupils to research information as they work, rather than having to wait for the ICT suite to become available. By combining research with the use of the Notepad App, storing information is quick and simple. Notes are searchable from anywhere on the iPad making it very easy for pupils to retrieve their work.

Providing a calculator that can be accessed on the device is a practical and useful addition to the device. There are plenty of free calculator Apps available, most will display a regular calculator in portrait mode, and a scientific calculator in landscape mode. Other alternative free Calculator Apps can provide a halfway house between a spreadsheet and calculator, allowing pupils to go back and edit calculations.

Pupils’ perception, rightly or wrongly, of a paper dictionary can be that information is slow and cumbersome to access, making the dictionary a resource they are more reluctant to use. Using the often overlooked in-built dictionary on the iPad, enables pupils to use a dictionary whilst reading an ebook or researching on the internet giving them the definition of a word instantly.

Many Primary schools do not use the email function on the iPad, especially on shared devices, so submitting work directly to the teacher can be problematic. Using WordPress or a similar blog site, the submission of work becomes simpler. The WordPress App is user-friendly and can handle text, images and movies. WordPress also has the advantage of being device agnostic and accessible through any internet enabled device for additional functionality.

Finding cross curricular links can sometimes be challenging. With the iPad, creating short cross curricular stop-animation movies is easy. For example, pupils studying World War 2 can create cartoons to re-enact episodes from the War, combining Art, IT and History. Additionally, re-telling or providing an alternative ending to a known story is easy to do with stop-animation, bringing elements of Art, IT, Drama and Literacy together.

These are just a few of the ideas for developing the use of iPads in the curriculum.

Looking for ideas on how you can embed the use of iPads into your classroom?

Contact Us for help and ideas, or tweet a question! @theICTadvisor



  • mrshumphries1

    Definitely a really important aspect to consider. What are they getting out of doing that activity? Rote learning is still rote learning whether it’s on paper or on an iPad! For some examples of iPad activities going beyond the use of shiney apps on my blog here: http://swaygrantham.co.uk/?s=Ipad Feel free to drop my a tweet (@swaygrantham) and share your activity ideas, I love hearing them!

  • Ellen Halkjaer

    Hello! Really enjoyed your presentation at Bett, thanks very much! But, in my notes I put that you had 3 recomendations for how to screen share, one was Reflector (amazingly good tool) but which were the other two?

    • Alexander Findlay

      Thanks Ellen!
      The three options you have for screen sharing are: Refector or Airplay, Apple TV or alternatively if you buy a VGA out cable for your device, you can then plug your device into your projector/screen via a VGA cable, as you would with your laptop/desktop

  • Emma

    We have curriculum books in Book Creator, we put all our videos and photos in them for each subject, even work we’ve done on Pages, such as tables.

  • Jenny Watson

    Thank you – I enjoyed reading this and lots of food for thought. With only 4 iPads in our school we decided to use them to create content and share our learning through weekly Live Learning broadcasts. It’s been really powerful for pupils,staff and parents. As we can we are buying more iPads – but the camera and a few apps like Explain Everything, Tellegami with iMovie and GarageBand are empowering. Examples are on out Live Learning. http://www.middletonpark.aberdeen.sch.uk

  • vcurtis12

    Siri is another built-in feature that often gets overlooked. In ESL, I use Siri in many activities, such as practicing the pronunciation of new vocabulary words in fill-in-the blank sentences. If students say the word correctly, Siri types it out correctly. When they make errors, the errors often provide good feedback to where the student’s pronunciation challenges are. Ex. The word was sample, but the student keep getting simple, a vowel challenge.

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