iPads: Cons and Pros

This page is to look at the positives and negatives of iPads and then look at some use cases. The real focus of the page is to look at how iPads can enhance learning.

An “Overview”:

iPads are often thought of as a somewhat restricted device but the tool sets offered make them a very worthwhile and powerful tool.

There are still a number of limitations in relation to iPads but the positives are certainly starting to outweigh the negatives.

This page is an initial overview of some of the genuine uses of the iPad for learning. Further posts will explore greater use for deeper learning.

Firstly – Limitations of iPads!

It is good to be aware of the limitations of iPads.

Flash: Hmmm! Flash is not dead. Luckily there are alternatives in many cases. Note: “flash” apps like Rover, iSwifter and Puffin aren’t a reliable and scalable alternative for a whole class.

Document access and storage: Although this is less of a problem now with iCloud along with amazing cloud services like Google Drive, Box, Dropbox and Skydrive!!! etc giving access to documents across your devices as well as on the web.

No USB drive: it would be nice to have a USB port but without one we just have to use services that share folders and files.

No pen tip Stylus: The capacitive screen of the iPad doesn’t allow for fine tipped type styluses. As styluses get better though this is being debunked (see below)

Advanced Web Apps and Software: There are a number of pieces of software that grant far greater power. In many cases there are apps, they are getting there (see below) but the experience is a lesser one.

Spreadsheets: Trying to work on a spreadsheet on an iPad is still a lesser experience BUT it has improved massively lately in fact if you have an Office365 subscription, Excel app is superb!

NOW THE GOOD STUFF! What iPads Enable!:

There are so many features of iPads that make them very powerful devices. Like with laptops, iPads enable access, communication sharing and collaboration but here are some of the features of iPads that are not necessarily a feature of traditional computers or laptops.
Genuine mobility: The obvious one!? Mobility trumps portability!
Convergence: many devices and tools in the one device!
Camera/video camera: the most useful tool?!
Books and Documents: always with you.
Apps and Tools: there is an app for that! (or a webtool!)
Note taking: creating al types of notes and accessing them across multiple devices makes the iPad an incredibly powerful device.
Simplicity of Use: generally intuitive and simple to use.
CONTENT CREATION: this is the biggie! Read on!


When iPads came out it was generally correctly said that they were “content consumption” devices and the early use was just that. Now though, things are excitingly VERY different. The ability to create content on an iPad today is ridiculous!

We have a number of posts that go into more depth in these areas and how this impacts learning. Here are some of the types of content creation that working well at present:

iMovie is a great base but once you have an idea of something you would like to try there is usually “an app for that” like narrated and annotated screen recording with Explain Everything. Green Screening with Green Screen by DoInk. Puppet Shows with apps like PuppetPals HD, PuppetPals 2 or PhotoPuppet HD. Stopframe Animations with iMotion HD other animations with Animation HD and Fun effects like TiltShift Video or Colorsplash with VideoSplash or .. . … (and the list goes on and on!!!)
Creating Movies with iPads Page coming soon!

Documents of all sorts are possible with an iPad and the ability to do this gets better everyday. Creating documents with multiple modes of media including handwritten content, photos video, text etc is easy. Pages is a great base for this and now aligns closely with the full blown software version and can also be worked online in a browser! Handwritten notes synced as pdfs with Notability, collaborative notes with Google Docs and the list goes on!
Check out our Note Taking with iPads Page

Music and Audio:
There are a huge number of amazing apps for creating music and audio. GarageBand sets it all going with multiple track audio and lots of options and there are also heaps of other options for audio sharing and music creation.
Creating Music & Audio with iPads Post coming soon!

The touch interface of the iPad along with a massive number of amazing apps for creating and editing graphics makes this feature of an iPad a real game breaker with simplicity and power. The adobe apps form a super strong option particularly with PS Touch and Adobe Ideas. It is also interesting when you explore the simplicity of Keynote which is often overlooked as a truly powerful way to create great graphics.
Creating Graphics with iPads Post coming soon!

Art, Design and Technology:
This area is growing quickly with options to print to laser cutters and 3D printers and apps starting to talk to each other. The AutoDesk offerings are amazing with 123D Make, 123D Design, 123D Sculpt, Formit etc through to the full offerings of AutoCAD 360. More formalised art apps range from those that replicate the paper experience like SketchBook Pro. Vector based options are powerful as well with apps like iDraw and Adobe Ideas.

Keynote is superb for creating  “powerpoint” presentations and now you can collaborate and work on these presentations in the cloud! There are a heap of other fantastic apps for creating presentations including Haiku deck, prezi etc etc etc
Presentation with iPads Page coming soon!

While the posts are being published check out our ICT blog post on:
Note taking and documents with iPads
Notability for note taking where hand written content is required.

– Explain Everything: review and tutorial
– Notability with Explain Everything together to create videos.

Final Say:

Hopefully this has helped in highlighting some of the power of iPads, especially as a content creation device. If content creation is not your thing then you can always rest on the iPad features of mobility, simplicity and convergence!

Further Reading:

A great post “Analysing iPad Myths in Education” on iPad4Schools

A good example of a project using iPads in a 4 week paperless project can be seen in our Year 7 CBL exercise.

This page will be updated and “enhanced” over time through response to feedback and comments as well as responding to updates and changes.
10 May 2014 Page created by Rolfe Kolbe @rolfek
28 May 2014 added a link to iPad4Schools post
3 Oct 2014 comments added in relation to Spreadsheets and fill down