Seven Tips to Get You Started With Your Classroom iPad
Technology can be very intimidating. I consider myself to be fairly technologically savvy, and I still remember being scared to death the first time I held my friend’s iPhone. I was sure I was going to mess it up! I accidentally touched the screen and a new screen popped up. I quickly handed the iphone back to my friend, sure I had caused huge, expensive damage. Of course I hadn’t messed it up at all. It’s really, really hard to do serious damage to an iPad or iPhone. That’s one of the fantastic things about them. They’re really hard to mess up, which makes them a perfect choice for trepidatious teachers, and a perfect choice for young children too. But that does lead me to my first tip:
1. Don’t let them scare you.
It is really hard to mess up an iPad. If you end up on the wrong screen, you can always push the home button and end up right back where you started. Once you learn the system (and it doesn’t take long) they are incredibly user friendly. You really can’t “break” them, unless you drop them, and that’s a whole other thing. So don’t be afraid to touch different apps and see where they take you. Explore a little bit knowing that you can always push that home button. We tell our students that they need to take risks if they want to learn and its the same with a new iPad. We need to be willing to take risks on the iPad to figure out how it works, resting in the assurance that it is really hard to mess up an iPad.
2. Find a techie friend or co-worker to help you.
They really do want to help. People who love tech usually love to talk about tech. I know if you get me started talking about technology and teaching you can see my full inner nerd on display! There is likely at least one person in your building that knows a little more about technology than you do, and would be more than happy to help. Seek them out. Offer them chocolate if you want, but if they’re like me, they’d be happy to help even without the chocolate.
3. Don’t be afraid to rely on your tech support staff.
Your tech support staff wants to help make technology easier for you, especially if you have a brand new iPad sitting in your classroom. They want that expensive device to get used and will do what they can to help you use it. I still rely heavily on our tech support staff, especially when I’m trying to get new ipads up and running. Connecting to the internet is one of the trickier things to master on an iPad and I’ve asked for help on that from our tech support staff a few times.
4. Watch a video tutorial.
Sometimes a visual presentation can make all the difference. Here are a few YouTube videos that offer an introduction to the iPad. Watch one of these videos and you’ll gain a basic understanding of this new tool you’ve got, and learn what exactly an “app” is.
iPad User Guide, The Basics, by Zollotech
Apple iPad Tutorial, Part 1, by Mobile Professor
Or take this free online class for teachers: The Beginner’s Guide To The Apple iPad.
5. Use resources you’re comfortable with while you get used to all the new technology.
When you’re learning something new, the familiar can be so comforting. Print yourself a copy of this good old fashioned paper guide to the iPad to help you get used to your device. Laminate it and put it by your desk so you can pull it out if you get stuck. (And if you’re not sure how to print an on-line resource, walk down the hall and grab that techie friend from tip #2 to help you out!)
6. Try a few top rated apps.
Don’t feel like you have to try them all, or even a lot of them. Maybe choose 5 to start. You can add to your app collection as you get to know your iPad. You’ll start to get a sense for which kinds of apps you like and don’t like. If you teach Pre-K or K, check out my favorite apps here, here and here. Some of those apps also have versions for higher grades. First and Second grade teachers can also check a few of the websites I talk about in my Where Can I Find Good Apps? post.
7. Follow this blog or some of the other technology blogs out there.
I’ll admit that I sometimes like to do somewhat complicated techie things here on this website, but I also try hard to post information for people that aren’t totally comfortable with technology. You can sign up for email updates from me by entering your email in the box on the right where it says “Subscribe to blog by email.” (I promise not to overwhelm your inbox!) You can also visit my Technology Pinterest page if you want to go deeper and find even more resources.
Some other technology websites/blogs you might want to read or subscribe to:
A new iPad doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Believe me, if you can handle teaching a full classroom of young children, you can handle an iPad. The children are far more complex and complicated than the iPad. Technology used to be hard, and it still has a bit of a bad reputation, but I’m not sure there’s ever been anything easier than the iPad. It’s a good time to try something new.