La Tela di Carlotta
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How the iPad simplified my teaching workflow

Oct 13, 2012

A few months ago, I got myself an iPad and was very determined to introduce it in my day-to-day teaching.

Well, I think I succeeded! Today, I use my iPad for most of my teaching and in many different ways (although, sometimes I still have to rely on photocopies).

I can’t possibly write all my tricks down in one blog post, so I’ll start with one of them: how to use scanned books on your iPad.

I use the “Kid’s Box” collection with many of my young students. Usually, textbooks like these come with a Pupil’s book, an Activity Book, and a couple CDs.

The pre-iPad me would scan the pages of both the Pupil’s and the Activity books, and then print them out for the class. This would result in a lot of photocopies to hand out and huge ink bills. Plus, the CDs remain pretty much unused.

The post-iPad me has it much easier. Having scanned the books and ripped the CDs, I can use Dropbox to play the audio tracks and iBooks to display the book in the class. As for the Activity book, I print it out photocopies of the relevant pages and give them to my students.

Here’s how I do it in more detail.

1. Scan the book

This is the most time-consuming part of it all. Unfortunately, few books come with a PDF version, so most of the times I have to scan the whole book. I’ve tried two different scanner apps, CamScanner+ and Scanner Pro, but finally settled on the first one.

Although CamScanner+ isn’t a universal app, meaning that it runs in 2x mode on the iPad, I prefer it over Scanner Pro, because it lets me scan multi-page documents—pretty handy when you have to scan a whole book. I then save the scanned books in Dropbox.

2. Rip the CDs

The iPad finally allows me to make use of the CDs and give my students the full experience. I usually rip the CDs and put them in dropbox with the other files.

2.  Use Dropbox to play the audio tracks

In the class, I normally use Dropbox to play the audio tracks I need. When preparing the class, I decide which tracks I want to play and mark them as Favorites, so I can access them offline. For me, this is very important as I usually don’t have wi-fi nor adequate 3G coverage on the go.

3. Use iBooks to display books

I usually open the book in iBooks (it shows up in the PDF collection). This allows me to view the book, while doing the activities and listening to the CD. To open the PDF in iBooks, simply find it in Dropbox, tap on the “Action” button and choose “Open in…”>iBooks.

Using iBooks is great if the activities are only about pointing at pictures and/or answering questions.

4. Use Goodnotes to write on the book

This doesn’t happen as often, but when an activity requires writing on the book while listening to the audio, I use GoodNotes (I love this app!) and my super-duper pink Bamboo Stylus (kids love using it!).

Just like with iBooks, to open the PDF in GoodNotes, simply find the book in Dropbox, tap on the “Action” button and choose “Open in…”>GoodNotes.

5. Print out photocopies of the activity book

If I were rich, I’d lend iPads to all my students. For now, though, I’ll have to settle with photocopies for things like the Activity book, that I need to leave with the students.

This is a great way to make sure they always have homework related to what we did in the class, and they usually like to keep the photocopies in their Enclavia folder.

Very happy!

So far, I’ve been very happy with this workflow and, despite some initial extra work, I’ve come to love it. It’s definitely much easier and more convenient (and lighter!) than carrying around a bunch of photocopies and the actual books.

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.