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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. There have been several versions, as well as there being a ‘mini’ version available since 2012. iPads are becoming increasingly more popular in schools as a mobile teaching/learning device. They can run apps, access the internet, record sound and much more. iPads feature forward and rear facing cameras which can be used for video or stills (except for the first generation of iPads that have no camera.)

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.



An “App” is a program that runs on the iPad (or other device.) They are downloadable from the Apple iTunes App Store, either directly to the device or to a computer, from where the app can be copied over to the devices, perhaps using iPad management software such as Apple Configurator or Profile Manager..

Many apps are free and prices for paid-for apps start at 79p. There are thousands of apps available that are categorised under ‘Education’. 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.

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

Important Information about App Licensing

The Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP) is now available in the UK which means schools can purchase iPad and iPod apps in volume, without the complications around multiple licensing which have existed in the past.

Schools using iOS devices should now enrol for the programme so that they can start to purchase apps in this way.

Enrolment involves one person in the school becoming the Programme Manager, and as many people as necessary becoming Programme Facilitators. The manager and facilitator can be the same person. Facilitators can log into the education app store and purchase apps in volume. Following the purchase, a list of codes is sent to the facilitator, which can be used to deploy the apps and as proof of purchase. A card is ideally needed to purchase apps in volume.

For more information, see these links:


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.
  • 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 as by default the iPads will not have access to shared areas on your Windows network, and apps may not facilitate the saving of work to specific folders, instead saving the work within the app itself. A number of sharing solutions have become available as the popularity of iPads has increased.
  • 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 any printers you may have in school, unless they are wireless printers that support Apple’s Airprint technology. 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, by email for example. Alternatively, 3rd party software is available that can enable printing from iPads to different types of printer.
  • Connection to projectors
    iPads can be connected to projectors for use as whole-class teaching tools, and for sharing pupil work. This can be done via a VGA adaptor, or even wirelessly using Apple TV, or 3rd party software which you run on the computer connected to a projector, and then wirelessly connect your iPad to that computer. Wireless ‘mirroring’ is a powerful use of the device which enables lots of possibilities. Not every app supports being projected, though most do.
  • Multiple Device Management
    There are a number of ways of setting up and managing multiple iPads. Smaller numbers can be managed from a Windows computer, but for larger numbers you may want to consider getting a Mac computer or a Mac Mini Server, which gives greater functionality for managing your devices, and easier scalability if you are increasing your numbers of iPads in the future.
  • 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:
  • Acrobat pdf, 222kb/1 page, 26/02/2014, apple_device_management_leaflet Updated
  • Training
    The Hertfordshire ICT Advisers have an Apple Distinguished Educator in the team and can provide bespoke training for your school or other education setting in the use of iPads and iPods, both within and beyond Hertfordshire.  Please contact Chris Carter for more information, email:

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 it is more mobile than an iPad, and it also features the camera and voice recorder functionality (4th generation models and later.) 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?

Herts for Learning can supply, set up and manage your school iPads, with a comprehensive service offered by School IT Systems Support (SITSS). This can include protective cases, charging trolleys, a Mac Mini Server to manage your devices, methods of projecting your iPads and more. For more information click here:




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.