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What is an iPad?

iPadThis device probably needs no introduction nowadays, but it is a tablet computer made by Apple that was first introduced in 2010. It is now on its 3rd version. They are becoming increasingly more popular in schools as a mobile teaching/learning device.  The can run apps, access the internet, record sound and much more. The 2nd and 3rd versions of the iPad feature forward and rear facing cameras which can be used for video or stills.

Use in Schools

child using iPadAny mobile device, when used effectively on a one-to-one basis, provides an opportunity for independent and personalised learning. A growing number of schools around the county are using iPads in the classroom, mainly at primary level. Because of the wide range of apps available, and the functionality of the iPad, there is a wide range of potential uses, for example:

  • Internet access for research (eg: mobile versions of Britannica, Wikipedia etc.)
  • Specific educational apps for spelling, maths etc
  • Drawing and animation apps
  • Watching video / listening to educational podcasts
  • Taking photographs and videos, and editing them
  • Voice recording for revision, inclusion. Make podcasts etc
  • Word games and puzzles
  • Revision apps
  • Video Conferencing
  • Read an ebook
  • Use certain games for inspiration for creative writing, eg Epic Citadel
  • Learn the keys of a piano with a virtual keyboard
  • Use as a classroom voting system
  • Calendar
  • Creative tools such as picture book makers
  • Sound monitor, calculator, stopwatch, countdown timers and other tools
  • Download an atlas, predict the weather, Google Earth etc.


Important information about App licencing

Please note that it is NOT the case that schools can legally purchase an app just once and sync it to all the devices they own, if those devices are going to be used by more than one person. The Volume Licencing system for iPad / iPad apps has yet to be introduced into the UK (it exists in the USA) so there is currently no easy way to manage multiple app purchases from a single iTunes account, but it is hoped that this system will be introduced soon. This does not, of course, apply to free apps which may be downloaded to one iTunes account and synced to multiple devices (providing the terms and conditions of the individual app permit this.)

Methods of purchasing apps multiple times include multiple iTunes accounts or gifting the apps to each device.

Information about how you can set up iTunes accounts without a credit card can be found here:


An “App” is a program that runs on the iPad (or other device.) They are downloadable from the Apple App Store, either directly to the device or to a computer running iTunes, from where the app can be copied over to the devices.

Many apps are free and prices for paid-for apps start at 69p. There are hundreds of thousands of apps available and around 67,000 of these are categorised under education (June 2012.)

Finding suitable apps can be difficult simply because there are so many to choose from. There are some useful independent sites on the web that review and suggest useful apps for education use (see additional information below.)

To get started, you might want to look at this list, which also includes links to other sites.


Screenshot from ‘Bee Spelled’

Screenshot from ‘Explore Maths’

Screenshot from ‘Mental Maths’

Screenshot from
‘Bee Spelled’

Screenshot from
‘Explore Maths’

Screenshot from
‘Mental Maths’


If you know any apps that are excellent for education, please contact Chris Carter to let him know! Please include details of how you use it in your school. Thank you.

Device Management & Other Considerations

Classroom system with Parasync

Classroom system with Parasync
and Macbook, used to manage
the ipods.

In order to effectively introduce the use of iPads into your school, you should consider these points:

  • Wifi
    If you want to access the internet etc. with your iPads you will need a robust wireless system in place capable of supporting the number of devices you have concurrently. A professional wireless survey is advised.
  • Charging
    Off the shelf, iPads come with a charger with which you can charge the individual devices from the mains. If you have multiple devices you will need a solution to charge them all at once. A number of these are available. Some of these also enable you to connect all your devices to a computer via a single USB cable.
  • Syncing
    Apps can be downloaded to a computer running the iTunes program, and then synced to the iPad. The same goes for videos and other media you may wish to put on the devices. Connecting up your iPads one by one to sync with iTunes will be time consuming so a multiple charging and syncing solution is advisable. It is possible to sync iPads wirelessly though it is useful to also have a wired system in place..
  • eSafety
    Devices connected through the school wifi will receive filtered internet access in the same way your other computers do. However, be aware that many social networking and communication apps are available, and it may be possible, for example, to upload photos and videos to the internet from the device. There are a limited range of security options preventing access to the internet, deleting apps, explicit content and more.
  • Collecting work
    Depending on what sort of work the children have been doing, collecting it all in from each and marking it can be a challenge. Sometimes the work must be emailed directly from the device to a designated email address.
  • Networking
    Be aware that the iPads will not by default be able to access shared drives on your network etc.
  • Advertising
    Be aware that free apps are often supported by adverts within the app.
  • Headphones
    You can turn the sound off on the iPad but in many apps the sound is useful. Therefore you might need personal headphones or ear-buds for each learner. Keep these in labelled bags so they don’t get mixed up.
  • Printing
    It may be difficult to print from the iPad to an printers you may have in school. Depending on your equipment and/or set-up, it may be necessary to send the work from the iPad to a computer on your network in order to print.
  • Connection to projectors
    iPads can be connected to projectors for use as whole-class teaching tools. This can be done via a VGA adaptor, or even wirelessly using Apple TV if your system support it. Not every app supports being projected.
  • Multiple Device Management
    If you are considering larger numbers of iPads, you might also want to consider getting a Mac Mini Server, which gives greater functionality for managing your devices.
  • Security
    Consider how you will store and mark the devices.
  • Initial Setup
    School IT System Support (SITSS) offer a set-up service to help you get started. This can include configuring all iPads for internet access, installing a range of free apps, setting up security features and much more. For further information, download the information sheet here:
  • SITSS - Managing the configuration of your iOS devices (164kb/pdf)
  • Training
    The Hertfordshire ICT Team can provide bespoke training for your school or other education setting in the use of iPads and iPods.


iPod Touch

iPodThe iPod Touch is a smaller touch-screen device which is similar to the iPad in many ways. Because of its smaller size (4.4” x 2.32”) it is more mobile than an iPad, and it also features the camera and voice recorder functionality (4th generation models.) It lends itself well to very mobile applications, and game/quiz style activities such as mental maths practice. It does not lend itself so well to ‘higher end’ applications such as video editing and creating multimedia digital books. It is, of course, also not so easy to share one between two, for example. Much of the information on this page, including the essential considerations, also applies to iPod Touch devices.



Where can I buy iPads or iPods for my school?

There number of Apple education specialist resellers in the UK that deal directly with schools. They can also supply multi-charging and syncing units, Mac Mini Servers etc.


Further Information

iPad information from Apple:

iPod information from Apple:

Appslist with links to other sites that suggest educational apps:

SITSS iPad/iPod setup service. Get your devices fully set up and ready to use in the classroom: 


If you are interested in finding out more about the use of iPads or iPods, please contact:

Chris Carter
eDevelopments Adviser
Tel: 01438 843918


Disclaimer: images used on this page are for illustration purposes only and do not represent any recommendation.