Surrendering to the #iPad - Must Have Apps

In this blog entry, you'll read about my surrender to the iPad, as well as have the chance to peruse some of my "must-have" apps for the iPad.  Note: I won't be updating this page with must-have apps, so you'll want to visit or bookmark this one--"must-have" apps for the iPad.

If you haven't watched the video embedded above, you need to. It's school leadership being humorous!

I have a confession to make. Last night, I invested in an iPad (3rd generation; 64gig; see, I followed my own advice about storage) and Apple TV (and plan to purchase a Logitech Zagg keyboard when my budget recovers). After months of experimenting with the iPad, waiting for the 3rd gen version of the device to show up, pushing back against the wild ravings of iPad fanatics, I decided that the iPad is a "force of nature," unstoppable and transforming our society and culture.

Enthusiasm for the use of digital media in education stems from a number of very different places...It can stem from a belief that schools need to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change in the modern world to remain relevant to students’ lives outside school or because digital media makes study more effective. It can reflect a desire to equip young people with the skills to participate in new media networks, or to defend themselves against pervasive and potentially harmful media messages.....
Whatever the reasons behind enthusiasm for using digital media in education, it can quickly turn to frustration at what can seem to be a distinct lack of progress in mainstream classrooms. Schools routinely block social media sites, games are derided as a waste of time, students' personal media devices are banned and they are forbidden inside school walls to make use of the networks they routinely draw on otherwise. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and lots of schools and teachers are engaged in imaginative use of digital media. (Read more of this excellent article, The Role of Tech vs The Purpose of Education)
As you know, any force that causes societal change ends up in schools. As a result, I can't just imagine using such a personal device like the iPad ONLY at work and locked down so it's has to be a device that you live cheek and jowl with. Perhaps, the tipping point argument was Patrick Larkin's quote, which I share in this blog post. I was also deeply moved by this video featuring Special Education students:

It's important--or maybe, it's not--to note that I still disagree with the way Apple does things, such as:
  • Proprietary, closed system
  • Difficult to load your own content onto the iPad unless you use their programs (e.g. iTunes)
  • Their poor tools for mobile device management.
Over the last few months, we've seen some progress. If you asked me now, which device is better for schools, Android or iPad, the answer is unequivocally, iPad. Do I think netbooks running linux a better investment than iPads? Yes, I still do, but the problem is, most people don't seem to want to do anything that netbooks allow you to do...iPads ease of use makes it a device that's been embraced by children, elderly alike, as well as everyone in between.
Aside: Read the series on iPads, mobile device management....
I still plan to run Linux on my desktops and laptops, but...for now, I admit that I've capitulated to the powerful forces that influence change in schools. The Apple TV also is a game-changer for sharing iPad screens with others.

Apple TV Aside: You will want to read these blog entries on the subject as well:

In the meantime, I have big plans for my iPad. I'll be giving a keynote later this summer, and I hope to facilitate the entire preso from my iPad rather than my 2007 Macbook. Some of the apps I plan to purchase and/or install include the might say, they are my "must-have" apps:
  1. EverNote (no cost) - This is the best app on the iPad, IMHO, with its note-taking capabilities that include still images, audio and more. I simply love this app. If I find out that upgrading will result in saving EverNote content to my iPad for offline viewing, then I will happily pay for it.
  2. Web Browsers -
    1. Puffin Free (no cost) - A browser that allows you to watch Flash video content on iPad. I use this app when accessing GoogleDocs since it works so well.
    2. iCabMobile ($1.99) - A full-featured browser for the iPad that surpasses Safari. You may want to read this review of browsers for iPad. You can also use iCabMobile to save videos onto your iPad!
  3. Dragon Dictation (no cost) - This is an app I really didn't pay attention to until I watched the video above.
  4. iLife Apps - iPhoto ($4.99), iMovie ($4.99), and Garageband ($4.99) are all tools I've used to some degree or another. I'll be embracing these as tools to create with on the iPad.
  5. iWorks Apps - Keynote ($9.99), Pages ($9.99), Numbers ($9.99). I'll probably start slow with these apps, but Keynote is at the top of my list.
  6. iTunesU - Lots of great content available for free here, as well as other stuff!
  7. GoodReader ($4.99)- Everyone brags about how great this app is for PDF manipulation, so I'm looking forward to this.
  8. Cloud Storage Solutions - You may not believe it, but I use all 3 of these:
    1. Box (no cost) - 50 gigs of free storage, 25 meg upload limit per file. Great for sharing!
    2. Dropbox (no cost) - Check out this Dropbox cheat sheet (or quick ref guide!)
    3. SugarSync (no cost) - an easy way to access videos from your iPad and not have to use iTunes to get them on the iPad!
  9. Social Media Tools (all no cost)- 
    1. Twitter
    2. Facebook
    3. Flipboard
  10. Screen Capture - Essentially, narrate/annotate tools for your iPad screen capture.
    1. ScreenChomp (no cost)
    2. Explain Everything ($2.99)
  11. Kabaam ($.99)- "Tell creative stories in a matter of minutes! Kabaam creates & publishes your own comics with just a few taps. "
  12. eBook Reading Software
    1. Nook (no cost) - Since I own a few Nook books, and the Nook reader serves as an ebook reader, this is a nice one to have.
    2. Amazon Kindle  (no cost) - I don't currently own any books on Amazon for myself, but plan to in the future.
  13. Printing from iPad Apps
    1. Print-n-Share ($8.99) - This seems like the best app solution you can get, enabling printing on Airprint and non-Airprint printers. With this app installed, you can Print to ALL printers (Not just AirPrint Printers) as well as print direct to most WiFi/Wireless printers without extra software.  The same vendor makes PrintCentral, also reputed to do the same thing.
  14. Online Video Content
    1. Netflix (no cost) - Since I'm an avid Netflix subscriber, this will come in very handy!
    2. Considering these video apps for streaming video to Apple TV, but...
  15. Onlive Desktop (free or $5 monthly fee) - Run Windows on your iPad via the cloud. Although there are reports it's illegal, I bet it will endure.
  16. Reflection - Mirror your iPad/iOS device to your computer using this app. There's a nice review shown here. Lots of possibilities for this tool!
Other apps that aren't must-have's but worth exploring:
  1. iPad as Interactive Whiteboard - While I confess I don't like the idea of IWBs, if you're already spending money on an iPad and an Apple TV, then you might as well consider one of these two apps.
    1. Doceri (no cost) - Although the app is free, you have to pay for the desktop software that installs on your computer.
    2. SplashTop ($5.49)
Of course, figure out the total cost of all the apps....$55.90. Ah, free open source, I miss you already.

One of my main complaints about the iPad was that it didn't offer support for Scratch programming from MIT...however, there are other solutions out there, such as the ones outlined in this blog entry--6 Awesome Code Editors for iPad.

Another neat challenge is how to collect data via forms. You may recall I explored various tools in this blog entry, 4 Choices for Creating and Filling Out Forms on Your iPad.

Many of the best apps in life are free...check out this list from TCEA/McAllen ISD. And, 40 best iPad apps for Young Learners.

Some resources worth spending a few hours on:

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Seth Hansen said…
Miguel, great post on iPads and some must haves. I've been searching for a while to find a way to make the Apple TV work in an enterprise environment, (the Apple TV doesn't support Enterprise WPA2 authentication) and there isn't really an easy workaround that I'm aware of? Has your district or anyone you know successfully implemented Apple TVs on a large scale? I love the idea of utilizing the iPad in a wireless setting and walking around the room while you display an app or video, but don't see it as a realistic option in an enterprise environment. Any thoughts?
Darren said…
Why the ipad instead of android Miguel?
@Darren - Great question! In the final analysis, the iPad is the device of choice for the school districts I'm working in/with, gaining momentum and offers the greatest long-term viability in terms of PD that I can offer...simply, i need to know it for my work and there are some great benefits for home, too.

Also, since I have an Android phone, I feel comfortable with that OS, too.
Darren Sudlow said…
That makes a lot of sense in your context. Generally speaking though there is no valid reason to go with the ipad ahead of an android device apart from a greater range of quality apps. I have an Asus transformer which is a fantastic device and just as good if not better than the ipad. I am concerned that schools when they think tablets think ipad and it doesn't need to be that way.
@Darren, I seriously considered the Transformer Prime but in the end, came back to the iPad because of the context at work. I hope that things loosen up on the iPad side so that it has the functionality of an know, the freedom to side-load content.

With appreciation,
Anonymous said…
I’m generally an early adopter of technology, but I took a while to warm up to getting an iPad too. One of the things that pushed me over the edge was the plethora of entertainment apps. Video games, eBooks, and my favorite my TV programming—that last one was the clincher. My employer, DISH, released the Dish Remote Access app, combined with a Sling Adapter plugged into my satellite receiver at home, it allows me to stream any and all of my programming wherever I go. It’s unbelievably convenient.
Unknown said…
Nice post Miguel - have been playing with Airserver in the classroom. Put the Apple TV aside for the moment. One word - awesome. I am happy with the closed Apple environment. Working with all devices (Macbool, iPad, Ipod T and iPhone) is becoming more simple and offers amazing learning opportunities, that cannot be duplicated with the same ease on other platforms. This enables more focus on the learning and less on the tech. Cheers, Paul
Tom said…
Great job on the images! I think the English teachers at my school will love this!

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