An iPad Pro for a Teacher on the Go

An iPad Pro for a Teacher on the Go


As online instructors, we need to remain connected to our online students all the time. When we travel, we carry a laptop and an iPad, but sometimes they can be cumbersome to work with. With the release of the iPad Pro, we wondered
if we might be able to improve our workflow while on the go, with a larger, yet lighter
and more portable device. In this presentation, we will describe our
experiences during a yearlong pilot study, where we traded our trusty laptops for iPad
Pros. We will compare the two mobile platforms, taking into consideration usability, portability,
and flexibility. All things considered, nothing beats the experience
of working on a powerful desktop computer with a large display. Working from home or
office, our desktop computers enable us to display multiple files simultaneously, which
comes in handy when grading projects. Unfortunately, we can’t travel with our
desktops, so a laptop or tablet is a convenient alternative. Three years ago, we purchased an 11-inch Macbook
Air to replace our aging 13-inch laptops. We chose it because it was smaller and lighter,
making it easier to travel with. It was also powerful enough to run all the
productivity apps on our desktop computers. Through cloud-based storage, we could begin
a project on our work or home computer and pick it up later on our Macbook. For most work-related tasks, such as reading
and responding to email, writing a report, editing a multimedia presentation, or providing
student feedback, the Macbook Air was a suitable alternative to the desktop PC while on the
go. Yet, screen real estate was limited. The 11-inch
screen made multi-tasking more cumbersome and time-consuming. We also couldn’t view
entire documents without scrolling. Grading required that separate windows for the LMS,
the rubric, and the project be opened at the same time. To complete the task required frequent
toggling between screens, as well as continual upward and downward scrolling. When the iPad Pro was released at the end
of 2015, we were ready for a change. Not only was it lighter than our Macbook Air, the 12.9-inch
display was much larger and the screen could be viewed in both landscape and portrait modes,
making it possible to view full documents without scrolling. As a tool for consuming content, the large
screen made it a pleasure to read blogs, watch a movie, play games, and search the web. While most of the iPad productivity apps were
stripped down versions of their desktop counterparts, we were able to perform most work-related
tasks without limitations. With a Bluetooth keyboard, the iPad Pro was
nearly as powerful as our former laptop. Yet, there were some distinct limitations of the
operating system that made some tasks more cumbersome. For example, in IOS, the multitasking
feature lets you use two apps at once in Slide Over, Split View, or Picture in Picture mode.
While this is a significant improvement, the multitasking feature only allows you to work
with two documents at a time. Grading projects is not something
we would want to do on an iPad Pro. The limited multitasking capability and lack of mouse
support would make this task too burdensome. For example, highlighting, cutting, copying,
and pasting text on an IOS device requires careful placement of the user’s fingers
over the selected text and some trial and error. If, on the other hand, we were attending a
meeting where we only needed to take notes, check email, or access a web site, the iPad
Pro with a keyboard is more than adequate. Likewise, if we were doing a short workshop,
the iPad Pro, combined with an Apple TV, would be ideal. So what did we learn through this year-long
trial? As we reflect on the research question that
initiated this pilot study, Can an iPad Pro replace a laptop for a teacher on the go?
our final assessment was mixed. Due to its light weight and slim design, the
iPad Pro is extremely portable. At just over 1 ½ pounds, it is easy to pack and travel
with. The 10-hour battery lasts long enough to get us through long meetings or airport
layovers without needing a charge. Regarding usability, most of the daily tasks
we perform at work can be replicated while on the go. The apps can perform most of the
day-to-day tasks, such as reading email, basic word processing and spreadsheets, as well
as discussion forum participation in the online courses. Due to its large screen, the iPad
Pro was also ideal for creating and viewing multimedia content. While traveling, we were
able to take screen shots and photos, record videos, generate a script, and create a professional-looking
video for our courses. For flexibility, the laptop beats the iPad
Pro hands down. Newer laptops are smaller and lighter, making them more portable, while
still maintaining the full functionality of desktop computers, offering online instructors
more flexibility in the range of teaching activities we can participate in while on
the go. For the best of both worlds, if faculty have
the luxury of traveling with both devices, apps such as DUET, can turn an iPad into an
extra display for their laptops. In summary, when considering the purchase
of a mobile device, faculty need to consider the kinds of tasks they plan to perform while
they are away from the office. If they need a device to take notes at meetings, a tablet
may be sufficient. If they intend to engage in more complex tasks, a laptop may be the
best choice. What is certain is that today, available technologies
make it much easier to stay connected with our online students!

8 thoughts on “An iPad Pro for a Teacher on the Go

  1. Great video. I enjoyed it greatly and of course, it was useful and informative. Thank you. Looking forward to more videos just like it.

  2. Excellent video! I've been looking for a good video about the iPad replacing my laptop and you covered great points. I'm on the fence still but each side has its own benefits and downsides.

  3. While i enjoyed your comments on the impact using an iPad had to your workflow on the go, I am a bit troubled by missing details about what exactly cannot be done on the iPad, when it comes down to the apps themselves. Everything you have mentioned, came down to input and multitasking limitations introduced with not having a mouse and no windows. Though its no doubt a big impact, i would have loved to know limitations by the app functionality, compared to the counterpart desktop app.

    The reason for my curiosity: I Do quite a lot with my iPad. Writing contract related letters, my personal data sheet, or even editing myself a semi-automatic time attendance system, works like a breeze with the iPad. I have even used my iPad to for correspondence with my lawyer once, not even thinking of my desktop. Though i admit, there are quite a lot mor complex use cases for word and excel, I see myself doing quite a lot more than just taking notes.

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