Tips for Using the iPad in the Classroom

While the iPad is an easy device to learn, it’s also easy to overlook some little tricks that can save time for teachers. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Keyboard shortcuts

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I don’t think that typing on the iPad is the easiest thing to do. So, anytime I can create shortcuts, I do. Go to Settings>General>Keyboard>Shortcuts and you’ll find one that is already made for you, although it’s not one you’re likely to type on the iPad very often. It’s ‘omw.’ If you type omw in an email, a note, Pages, or anywhere on the iPad, it will be converted to ‘on my way’ when you either tap the space bar or tap return. Try it. But, as I said, this is not something you’re likely to type very often.

So, let’s make our own. Let’s make one for your email address. After all, you type that frequently. To make a shortcut for your email address, tap the + in the top right corner (you should still be in the Settings>General>Keyboard>Shortcuts area). In the Phrase field, type your email address. In the Shortcut field, type something that you will use as the trigger for that address. It can’t be a real word as you wouldn’t want it to convert to your email address every time you type it. For mine, I have jg@ as the shortcut. I’d never type that unless I wanted to trigger my full email address. Make your own shortcut. Hint: you cannot begin with the @ symbol as that now represents other things, like Twitter handles, etc.

What are some other shortcuts you should consider making? Do you find yourself typing your name frequently? Make a shortcut for it. How about your address or the address of your school? When I type 808, it automatically converts to my mailing address, 808 Bonnyview Rd. I’m not likely to type 808 for many other reasons. Make a shortcut for your school address or the address of your school. Or, how about a shortcut ‘gw’ which auto-corrects to ‘Good work!’ (It could even auto-correct to: ‘Good work! I’m proud of you!’) You can even make a shortcut that converts to an emoji symbol. When I type ‘tu’ it converts to a thumbs up symbol. Keep this in mind: when you find yourself typing something frequently (NOT your passwords, however), consider making a shortcut. CAUTION: If you make one for your email address and you use the space bar to expand the shortcut into the address, be sure to delete that space after the address.

2. Adjust the pass code

So that you don’t have to type it every time. After setting a pass code (currently it’s a 4 digit number), you can choose how often the iPad will require it. The very next field, which is active only after setting a pass code, allows you to tell the iPad, for example, not to require the pass code if it’s within 1 minute, 5 minutes, or 15 minutes of the last time it asked. This makes it a little more forgiving when you’re busy working. Choose Settings>Touch ID & Passcode to make those adjustments. (Of course, if you’ve got a newer iPad, you can use your thumbprint as the pass code and it’s not nearly as intrusive.)

3. Allow access to your pictures or the microphone

We’ve all done it. We were presented with the message, “This app requests permission to access your photos. Allow. Don’t Allow.” We’re used to being paranoid on the computer so we choose, “Don’t Allow.” Then we realize that now the app can’t do its thing since it can’t access our photos, or the mic, etc. But, you can reverse that selection. Choose Settings>Privacy and then the feature in question; Photos, Microphone, Calendar, etc. Doing so will list all of the apps that have made the request and your response. You can easily now change your mind. Apple has made the rule that NO app may use your photos or your microphone or camera or calendar, etc., without first asking. That’s a nice safeguard that’s built into the iOS.

4. Making the notifications area work for you

You know that by dragging your finger down from the top margin of the iPad, you reveal the notifications area. You may or may not use it. In fact, when you reveal that area, you may find apps that you rarely use. For example, I never use the reminders, so I’ve turned those notifications off. To do this, go to Settings>Notifications, select the app, and turn off Allow Notifications. But, there are other apps that I use frequently that I’ve added to this area for easy access. Scroll all the way to the bottom of that area until you see Edit. Tap Edit to see the names of all of your apps that can appear in this area. For example, I’ve added Evernote in there. Now, when I want to add a note to my Evernote notebooks, instead of hunting for the app, I bring up the notifications area and tap the icon to add a new note. Or, I’ve added Box and Dropbox, so I can quickly access those accounts. I even added my preferred weather app, which always shows the weather conditions and forecast. Make it work for you. Explore that Edit tab in the notifications area. Don’t see it? Make sure you’re in the Today tab at the top.

5. Make the dock work for you

By default, the iOS puts four icons in the dock area. Fine. But, you may never use some of those icons. And there may be others (the photos app, for example) that you use frequently. You’re permitted to put up to six apps in the dock, and you can change those choices as often as you’d like. For example, I’ve got the Photos app in my dock, and instead of the music app, I’ve added Flipboard. I even added a folder that contains the Apple iWork apps, like Pages, Keynote, iMovie, etc. I use those frequently. To add or remove apps from the dock, tap AND HOLD any icon on your home screen until the icons begin to wiggle. Once they start to wiggle, they become moveable. Tap and drag an app out of the dock or tap and drag an app into the dock. Remember, you can add folders as well. Very handy. But, don’t do this and forget about it. If you’re working with an app with your students this week, put it in your dock. Next week, when you’re using a different app, swap them out. Make the dock work for you.

Those are five of my favorite iOS time-saving tips.