An introductory guide to iPads for Teachers

I’m delivering some iPad training to a school tomorrow, so thought it might be useful to collate some of the links I’ve been putting together for the session.

The session is concentrating mainly on teachers using the iPads for their own professional use, rather than being used as a classroom resource, but a lot of the apps below will be suitable for use by students too. I’ll do another post sometime of great apps for different subject areas.

Here’s some of the useful apps I’d recommend investigating. Some are free, others the price of a pint or so. Links are to the UK version of iTunes so other readers may need to do a search in the App Store to find the version for their region.

File storage / Transfer

Dropbox is probably one of the most useful applications I’ve used in years. It allows me to store files in the cloud. I can put files in my Dropbox folder on my PC and they’re immediately copied to an online space. This is synced with my laptop the next time I power it up. In addition, the Dropbox app on my iPad (and phone) allows me to access and view these files on my iPad – as long as I have an active network connection. You can get a free Dropbox account here.

Other apps also work with Dropbox too. So I can open a file for editing. And then save it back to Dropbox afterwards. This makes it much easier to get the files created on my iPad onto my PC.

Word Processing / Office Capability

Microsoft have yet to release an Office app for the iPad – so there’s a need to look at alternatives. I use Documents to Go. It’s not free – the Pro version is about £12 or so… But this gives Dropbox features so I stumped up the extra. It gives me access to a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool.

The spreadsheet would make it possible to set up grade books and student record sheets without having to buy additional gradebook applications.


Note taking

These two are my current apps of choice for taking notes in a meeting. I’ve just bought a stylus which lets me use handwriting in Notability. I can copy pdf files in from Dropbox and annotate over the top of them.

Evernote is a useful way of managing bits of information – I’ve used it for taking notes in meetings and also for taking photographs of powerpoint screens in meetings, and parts of documents I need to remember. It syncs with the Evernote website so you can access your notes on your PC later.

Also worth taking a look at these apps too :


There are a lot of options for getting content onto your iPad. In the UK BBC iPlayer is excellent. For accessing blogs try Flipboard and Reeder. iTunes U has a lot of good videos on it. And for teachers you have to take a look at the BrainPop app too! It gives you a new free BrainPop movie every day.

To display content on your IWB you could either use the VGA adaptor, or investigate Apple TV which allows mirroring of your iPad screen. You just need to hook these up to your classroom projector.


I’ve only just got iThoughts and it looks good. I’m not always great at using some of these brainstorming apps – but as a way of collecting your thoughts and summarising concepts they are very useful.

Audio Recording / Podcasting

Both these apps (and there are others) let you make simple voice recordings and upload them to the internet for sharing with students.

Screen casting

Both these apps let you record short screencasts using the ipad as a whiteboard. Draw and annotate, plus record your voice to make revision guides, information broadcasts, and more.


iBooks comes as standard on new iPads now. It’s also worth getting the Kindle app too. Both give you access to a wealth of free books that are out of copyright. For English teachers you’ll find a lot of the classics are available for free. Also check out the Project Gutenberg website for e-books and pdf/txt versions of books that you could add to your library or access via Dropbox.


Useful Links

Here’s a selection of useful blogs, articles and documents that you might find useful

iPad Apps and Blooms Taxonomy – Excellent post by Sylvia Tolisano

Classroom iPod touches & iPads: Dos and Don’ts – by Tony Vincent. Some good advice here. I love the idea of using wallpaper to simply label up each ipad/ipod. Nice idea.

Getting ready for iPad deployment: ten things I’d wish I’d known about last year

InterAction Education : Some very useful guides for using iPads in the classroom

iPads for Learning– Australian educational site. Nice guides.

High School iPad apps

Why use iPads for learning?

Supercharge Your iPad For School: The Apps And Accessories Every Student Needs

15 Favorite iPad Apps As Selected By Teachers

Apps in Education

Learning with iPads

iPads in the Primary classroom

iPad Lessons on Pinterest

How to Control your IWB from your iPad

and of course there’s the excellent 103 Interesting Ways to Use an iPad in the Classroom presentation

You can find more links collated at :


Got a favourite app for teachers that isn’t here? Share them in the comments below!

And for ipad training with your staff – get in touch!

Author: Danny Nicholson

Danny is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and computing / interactive whiteboard trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. Please get in touch with your training requests.

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  1. Great post Danny, as usual! DropBox saved our teachers lives when we first started working with iPads! Working in Primary schools with iPads I find these apps really useful:
    PuppetPals HD -perfect for collaborative story telling, I’ve used it regularly with all groups for retelling stories, working with character and even PSHE. Linking it with iMovies means you can create more complex short films.

    Keynote and Pages I also find brilliant for teachers and children alike, creating content and sharng via apple TV ( right, 5 mins to summarise what we’ve just beeb looking at.. And so on!) Downside is that they won’t work with Dropbox easily, so to share/save it’s iTunes or WebdpDav. However creating worksheets or quick presentations is sooo easy!

    I also recommend that some sort of comic strip designer is used; I like Strip Designer – and use it an all contexts-science experiments, story boarding, history and so on.. Really, really versatile!

    Also, maths games! If show your teachers some maths games they’ll never look back! Again though, as I said, pretty much primary school orientated!

  2. Hi Rebecca. Thanks for the comment. I love puppet pals!

    Recently got Strip Designer and Comic Life – both look great. I’ll do a post about some more pupil-centred apps that I like another time.

    Thanks too for the link to Learning with Ipads – I’ll add that to the blog post and to my delicious list!

  3. Cloud on is a great app for Microsoft office.

  4. Great article. The mobile app scene is changing so fast you could write a new post a month on this. Recently I have been using “Explain Everything” to create simple Khan Academy style videos. A simpler (and more stable!) version of the same thing is Educreations. I prefer both of these to ScreenChomp and ShowMe.

    And I use iCabMobile which is an alternative browser with lots and lots of “plugins”. One of those allows you to download Youtube videos using the ClipConverter website, so you can play them offline in your classroom a video playback app like FLV Player.

  5. Thanks Justin, I’ll go explore those!

  6. Hi all, I agree with Justin; constantly changing! I’ve been investigating MadPad HD to create lesson prompts such as story starters or connectives – even phonemes to build words. And I love some of the book apps that are out there – it’s brilliant to get the older children to narrate books for the younger children.

    Book Creator is another one that lets children and teachers alike create content. I’ve seen teachers get really excited about creating their own mini-textbooks using a very simple interface without the need for a mac/ibooks author.


  7. We’ve been hard at work this past year developing LiveSchool. It’s is a great app designed to help teachers track and manage student behavior information on an iPad! We’re obviously biased, but we think it’s a must-have app for teachers in the classroom.

  8. Talk about not trying to replace your laptop. Enjoy the device for what it is great at. Reach for new learning opportunities. Check out and for more information.

  9. I also use the following apps which are amazing:

    1. GarageBand – great for Music and any other area wanting to create Compositions or sound tracks.

    2. Anagram – free – a great little app to use quickly in lessons for literacy.

    3. italk – Fab audio recording app, there’s a free version also.

    4. Mathelona – great little numbers/maths app. Addictive.

    5. Keynote Remote – you can turn your phone/ipad/ipod into a remote control with Keynote (Mac version of Powerpoint)

    6. SimpleMinds+ – a free mind mapping app.

    All you have mentioned above I also have and thank you for your blog. A big help as usual.

  10. Hi Danny,
    I’ve created a blog all about iPads in Primary Education – how they can have an impact on teaching and learning and more specifically the apps which will be useful for teachers, Early Years and Key Stage 1, creativity and Maths and Literacy. I’m currently working on apps for History, Science, Geography, Art and music. Hope you and your readers find it useful.

  11. Thanks David – I’ve added your blog to the article, and also added to the Delicious list. 🙂

  12. Thanks Nina – good list.

  13. As a “poor man’s” version of Evernote, a WordPress site makes a good note taking tool. Notebooks become WP “categories”. Categories in WP automatically have an RSS feed generated. Any posting can be assigned one or more categories. Notes are listed chronologically, but you can also use the WP Search feature to find specific notes. You can set up a WP site so that you can post via email. So, any device that you can generate an email on, becomes a posting tool. If you don’t have WIFI at the moment, most email programs will let you create an email, and then will send it later when you are connected to the Internet. You can set up a WP site so that you can generate an audio post via a phone call, from any phone. You can take photos of whiteboards or documents and attach them to your email posts. WP sites are automatically mobile device friendly. You can have a private site, or share with selected individuals (a study group maybe). There’s no syncing, since you are always publishing to a single site. A WP site pulls up well on an iPad, iPhone, Android phone, or browser on a PC or laptop.

  14. That’s a great list Danny… Dropbox is a real lifesaver for me… though I’m worried I might be starting to rely on it a bit too much – and yes it links fantastically with Documents to Go… I don’t use Evernote enough either – it is a fantastic tool, but I don’t seem to use it enough – I really need to get into that habit.

    iThoughts is just fantastic, I really love using with learners, and for my own study – I just wish it was available as a desktop program as well (I know it can sync with some – but I love the interface on iThoughts) – I’ve written a post on it here:

    I’ll have to check out some of the other tools you mention there.

  15. Thanks Bill. I’d not thought of using a wordpress blog that way. Interesting idea.

    Thanks Phil – glad you found the post useful. Will take a look at your post too!

  16. Thank you for sharing your resources. I am passionate about using iPads in my classroom. So I have created a blog, each day I aim to review an app I am using. The blog is

    I hope you find the blog useful



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