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Turn Your iPad into a Smartboard

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By Brent Warner

Many of us in the ESL world are regularly watching well-to-do schools getting the latest and greatest in smartboard technology while we are left with the computer someone dusted off from the basement. But never fear! If you’ve got a projector, your iPad is going to take you to the next realm in EdTech, and I’d argue that in some ways it’s even more flexible than a smartboard.

While there are many approaches to turn your iPad into a smartboard, here I will present the three most common: You can go for the wired approach, which is a virtual guarantee that things will work out, or you can go with a wireless approach which will give you the freedom to walk around the room with the iPad in tow.

If you want to know how to connect your iPad to a projector using these methods, please visit me at http://www.edtech.tv where I have created tutorials on how to do it. For now, I’ll assume you are connected and offer a few resources for getting something productive and useful up and running.

The magic of the iPad is, of course, in the apps. Your ability to bring the wonders of modern technology into your classroom is only limited by your awareness and understanding of how to use the ever-growing plethora of apps available at your fingertips. There are more apps than we could ever hope to follow, let alone gain a mastery of, so here I would like to present a simple list of 5 which can start you down your journey.


Timer +: There is little that can be more concrete than a simple timer letting students know exactly how long they have to finish a presentation or a test. While the iPad comes with its own elegant clock, I prefer the flexibility of Timer+ as it lets you set and store different lengths of time which you might find yourself wanting to use regularly.

DioDict4: In an English class, what’s more powerful than a dictionary? There are cheaper and even free solutions, but investing a little bit into a truly high quality dictionary is a wise investment indeed. Also, this helps solve the problem of students “checking their dictionary” on their phones when you set up the class for them to use the iPad instead.

TED: If you haven’t started taking advantage of TED talks in your classroom, the time is now! Inspirational, motivational, or sometimes just downright interesting speeches from some of the top thinkers in the world. The app lets you display subtitles if you want, and also to download ahead of time if you should find yourself in a setting where the wifi isn’t guaranteed.

Educreations: If you can write it, you can record it! This app will help you keep a screencast of your presentations. You can display what you are working on live, adding in notes, pictures, and more, and then save it or shoot it online for your students to review at their leisure at home.

Skitch: This is by far my favorite of the bunch. Skitch allows you to show some live video, snap a picture, and then mark it up with annotations all on the fly. If you can imagine seeing this projected onto a screen, you’ll soon realize what I’ve just described: Your iPad has rendered any and all Document Cameras completely obsolete. Just search Amazon for an iPad stand that will hold the iPad in a way that floats above the table.

I could go on and on, but for now I’d love to hear how you’re using the iPad in your classroom and what apps you’ve found help you replace the need for a smartboard. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below so we can continue the discussion!

Brent Warner is an education and technology authority who believes that technology is great, but only if it’s used in an effective manner. Brent received his Master’s in Teaching TESOL from USC and is passionate about helping teachers develop professionally by exploring ways that they can create better connections with their students. He can be found at http://www.edtech.tv

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