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How to Present with an iPad

The iPad is becoming a common tool found in classrooms everywhere.  I work with schools across the nation and can honestly say that I haven’t come across a school in the last year that doesn’t have at least one “i-device” available or is planning on having one soon.  Some have carts containing 30 or so of these devices (usually iPads, sometimes iPod Touches), while others have a full 1 to 1 initiative going on.  Some locations are making better use of these devices than others, but in almost all locations a common question i hear is… “How can teachers better use these devices as a presentation tool?”  This post aims to provide a few ideas.

Creating Content to Share

Before presenting content, you must first have content to share.  The iPad offers several apps that an help create content:

  • Keynote – This app is the equivalent to PowerPoint for the PC.  While the app is more limited than the full Mac desktop version it still does a nice job
  • Corkulous – This app allows you create very visually appealing brainstorm type notes.  Great for class discussions
  • Penultimate – One of several notebooks that allow you to draw or write notes
  • Whiteboard HD – Turns your iPad into a whiteboard, add diagrams, common shapes, notes and more.
This is obviously just a few options out of the hundreds available, but enough to get your started.

Connecting Your Device

Now of course for this to be useful you need to be able to project the content created in the apps above for your class to see.  The simplest way is get a VGA or HDMI adapter from the apple store.  Plug one end of the adapter into your iPad and the other into your projector.  Note that the first generation iPad is much more limited in what you can project.

Another idea that is becoming more common and is much less limiting is using an Apple TV to stream your content.  The Apple TV is designed to allow you to stream content from your mac or iPad to a TV.  However, you can achieve a similar result for presentations.  Just take your $99 Apple TV and use the HDMI port to hook to your HDTV or Projector (as long as the projector has an HDMI port).  This will allow you walk around the room and present content “wirelessly” instead of being forced to stay close to the projector because of cables.

Finally, if you are in a 1 to 1 situation where all students have an iPad, you can install an app such as Idea Flight.  Idea Flight allows you to remotely control up to 30 iPads on a wireless network.  It also integrates with Dropbox, so you can load your presentation or PDF files into dropbox, connect the other iPads with Idea Flight and control what they see on their device.  So instead of everyone looking at the screen in the front of the classroom, students can just look at their iPad and see exactly what you see.


It’s one thing to project content for others to see, but that’s so web 1.0.  With today’s apps you can create a truly interactive environment with students.  For example, using  something such as lino – (use through a website or an app is also available). You can add brainstorming notes to a board and let others within the class add notes to it as well in real time.

Or divide the class into groups and use something such as iBrainstorm.  This allows users with an iPod Touch or iPhone to create a sticky note and “swipe” it to connect to an iPad.  At the time of this writing you can only pair 4 devices up with the iPad, but putting students into groups will help.  Plugging the synced iPad into the projector allows students to instantly see the ideas being generated in each group.

There are also at least a dozen different whiteboard apps that allow you to collaborate with others.  Here’s a nice post highlighting five of them –

Hopefully this will get you started successfully using the iPad as a presentation tool in your classroom or office.  Others ideas?  Please post a comment.

About Jason Carroll

Jason has trained thousands on Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning concepts throughout the United States and beyond. His focus is on integrating research based practices into the work he does and helping others ensure that what they are doing works. He specializes in assisting people to bridge the gap between operation of technology and actual implementation. Jason is a published author, has taught Instructional Technology and Universal Design for Learning at the University level, and spends a significant amount of time on e-Learning and blended learning initiatives. He is a graduate of the Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) from California State University at Northridge and holds a Masters in Business Administration. Currently Jason serves as Product Marketing Manager for North America at Texthelp Inc. where he oversees new product launches and speaks nationally on a variety of Assistive Technology topics.

One Thought on “How to Present with an iPad

  1. scriptor on August 3, 2012 at 9:04 am said:

    I currently use an app called Presentation Note, that has everything I need. My ppt, pptx or pdf files look great, especially when processed through their custom service. The app also has speaker’s notes, timer, slide no, whiteboard, laser pointer and even gesture slide change, which is very cool. I usually connect it to a projector via VGA cable or even Apple TV (if available) on the spot.

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