By Matt Levinson

For schools that are about to deploy the iPad as their main mobile learning device, there’s wisdom to be learned from others who’ve gone down that road. At Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera, Calif., the first year of a pilot iPad program for sixth-graders has just ended, and some clear lessons have emerged. Here are some tips to help smooth the transition.

  1. START CLASS WITH GOOD HABITS. Start out the day with a learning challenge like Google a Day to get students using and searching the iPad in a productive manner, instead of coming in to homeroom, advisory, or classroom and going into their own applications or searches.
  2. ASK KIDS FOR HELP. Don’t hesitate to lean on kids for tech support and assistance. Tapping a student to come up with a way to fix a problem with the iPad is a great way to empower students, and gives them a sense of ownership.
  3. INVEST IN A DURABLE CASE. The initial investment will lower costs down the line if devices are are broken, and will cut down insurance premiums.
  4. IDENTIFY DEVICES. Use laminated name tags and have kids personalize their cases with a key chain. You can also ask each homeroom have a different key chain for easy identification. Also ask kids to put their names on their home screens. This is an easy way to identify ownership of the iPad and allows kids the opportunity to personalize and customize their devices.
  5. PROVIDE A FEW WIRELESS KEYBOARDS. Though most kids will opt to use the iPad keyboard, the wireless keyboards will come in handy now and then. That said, kids who have mobile phones and text a lot are quick iPad typists and their fingers are smaller and more nimble than adult fingers. Watch how they explore the split keyboard feature to enable and mimic texting like typing.
  6. DECIDE iTUNES POLICY. Determine whether the school will control iTunes or whether students and families will have ownership and control to purchase apps — there are pros and cons to each.  In the first year of an iPad deployment, having the school control iTunes allows for equity and access for all students. Students and families can always suggest apps for the school to purchase. On the other hand, giving full access to iTunes to students and families allows for greater personalization and exploration and releases the school from having to widely upload new apps for use.  Each community is different and needs to do what fits best and is most appropriate to the needs of its community.
  7. FIGURE OUT WORKFLOW APPS. There are many different options, like Box, e-Backpack, Evernote or DropBox to name just a few. Whichever system you decide upon, have everyone use the same system to ensure consistency and to minimize the need to troubleshoot different systems.


CONSIDER PURCHASING AN APPLE TV.  An Apple TV will project what’s on the iPad and allow for greater teacher mobility in the classroom. Though it’s an additional cost, it would also address teachers’ complaints about the slipping of the cord attachment between the iPad and the projector, which can be disruptive.

  1. CHECK YOUR BANDWIDTH. Make sure you have enough bandwidth to manage use of all the devices on campus — and test it regularly.
  2. HAVE A PLAN FOR MISSING DEVICES. Kids will misplace the iPads around campus, at home and on the bus, so have a plan in place for how to communicate missing devices. For example, send a blast email to let staff know the iPad is missing and have designated locations where iPads should be returned, and make sure everyone knows of these locations.
  3. INDICATE YEA OR NAY. If you’re not using the iPad everyday, post a visual in the classroom for whether the iPad will be used that day in class. For example, a red light signals no iPad, a yellow light indicates maybe and a green light means get the iPad out and ready to use right away. This will save the daily question, “Are we using the iPads today?”
  4. FOLLOW THE KIDS’ LEAD. Because of its mobility and versatility, unexpected opportunities will come up. Indulge the kids’ ideas, whether it’s to photograph parts of the campus and design math programs using proportional reasoning or to record and interview members of the community or to embark on a QR code treasure hunt.
  5. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. No matter how much you prepare and put plans in place, you need to be ready for the detail you didn’t see coming. Be flexible and adaptable and make sure your school team adopts the same mindset. You can’t take on an iPad program and be rigid.
  6. HAVE FUN! Moving to an iPad program can be a blast for kids, teachers and administrators and has the potential to spark imagination and creativity.
14 Smart Tips for Using iPads in Class 2 July,2012MindShift

  • The hot product category at ISTE this year was….cases for Ipads! There must have been ten booths showing and selling them at pretty high price points.

    It felt somewhat bizarre to me who, when I discussed our Ipad educational app with educators and consistently heard: “We’ve decided to only use free apps this year!”  So my 7 figure investment in software is going into a market with zero budget but the guys selling rubber balls for the corners of each Ipad can get $40 per Ipad?

    Is there something wrong with this picture?

    VocabularySpellingCity Mayor

    • Gaelerickson

       We are looking for math/science applications for the Ipad.  Did you see anything you liked or create?

  • Mmgauthier

    I would like to know how to get funding for multiple iPads in classrooms. Seems surreal.

  • Edison

    Great to see eBackpack mentioned in the above article.  Far more than a store only solution with complete workflow, annotations for grading, parent portal, more iPad capability than the others, and specific features that schools need (reporting, SIS integration, etc.).  Thanks for adding us to the list!

  • Thanks for these tips. They mirror our experiences this past year in also managing an iPad pilot program at Alexandria Country Day School. Hopefully I can add to the discussion by sharing some of our experiences where the focus from the start was on how the iPads and other initiatives helped improve how we taught, assessed student learning and expanded the curriculum to be more concept, inquiry and project based. Your readers might want to read and listen to how we documented the teaching and learning through our school blog and through two podcasts by our Fifth Grade teachers. We would love to hear from other schools about their experiences so please do comment either at the school blog ( or the Edtech Co-op ( podcast site. Just scroll down the Edtech Co-op page for the two iPad pilot interviews. 

  • Pingback: 14 Smart Tips for Using iPads in Class | The eLearning Site()

  • Michelle M

    Great post! Having iPads in a classroom is a good way to implement a 21st century classroom. However, having students use iPads poses the problem of adequate monitoring and managing to keep students engaged. The greatest advice that I can give you is to implement a classroom
    management and monitoring software solution. This will allow you to
    setup restrictions and also provide more creative interactive lessons to
    increase student engagement and learning.
    CrossTec Corporation offers many great (and free!) webinars about how to implement classroom management on a budget and how to manage and monitor and 21st century classroom (great for those that have iPads in their classrooms). The following is a link to the webinar:

  • Anonymous

    Funny how everyone is doing the “tips for implementing iPads” post right now and how similar they all are

  • Ralf0290

    Great site love info. keep up the good work… love the 14 Smart Tips for Using iPads in Class
    talk soon,

  • Ipad Video Lessons Review

    Againg, I just wanted to say how youy 14 Smart Tips were…
    Looking forward to seeing more!
    Talk soon,

  • Ipad Lessons Review

    It is rather interesting to see some of
    the comments left here about iPad classrooms and knowing how to use an iPad.
    With all of the new technology in today’s World a person needs to know how to
    use the device that you have first so that you can use it the best way possible
    for yourself. This site has a lot of great information on it for iPad users. I
    hope to see more about the main differences that some people may have between
    using iPads and the real book from a book store. Thanks for the information
    here, it is an eye opener.

    This little bit of information may help
    you get to know an iPad even better.

    Thank you,


  • Pingback: iPads in the Classroom: A Quick Guide for Teachers | Concordia Online()

  • paullester123

    Hi Matt,
    After doing some research I eventually found some instructions on how to use an iPad. I find it very frustrating that Apple make such good products but lack in teaching people how to use them. For some reason they seem to think they are above everyone else and go off on a tangent as a law unto themselves. I wish they would come down to earth and help the laymen.

  • Papino

    Here’s 1 video (Out of over 100) you can watch as a sample. This on is about Protecting Your iPad Data with a Passcode…
    Here’s 1 video

  • It is frustrating when you open the box of your new ipad you can’t find any user’s manual in it. finally found an ipad video lesson that teaches us how to use the most of our ipads. This link might help:

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  • Pingback: 1:1 iPads in Grade 2 | Journey with Technology()

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