10 iPad Accessories for the Educator - dummies

By Sam Gliksman

You can maximize the educational impact of iPads with the addition of a few simple accessories. Consider the following list of 10 valuable iPad accessories for educators.

Apple TV

Open new avenues for sharing and collaboration by adding an Apple TV to your classroom. You’re probably imagining a huge, wide-screen TV, but an Apple TV is only four inches wide and deep. It’s a small device that you attach to your classroom projector. It acts as an AirPlay receiver, allowing anyone in the room to send, or “mirror,” their iPad display to the projector for everyone to see. Students can share their work, videos, or websites. As a teacher, you can display your iPad screen on the projector wirelessly while you walk around the room and interact with students.

iPad case

It only takes a small slip of the finger to drop your iPad and shatter the screen. Invest in a solid iPad case to protect your iPad from breakages, dirt, sand, rain, shock, and vibration. Drop the iPad on its corner and you’re very likely to crack the display, so a good case needs to protect the corners and edges of the iPad as they tend to be the most vulnerable points. Protection is important, but your case needs to allow easy access to important switches, cameras, speaker, and microphone. Consider products such as the Otterbox Defender, Griffin Military Case, or the Fintie Casebot for younger users.

Keyboard cover

An alternative to a heavy iPad case is a display cover with keyboard. The super-light, ultra-thin cover includes an embedded keyboard for easy typing when needed. Magnetic joints snap the cover into place, and grooves in the base offer different tilting angles when propping up your iPad. The cover also automatically wakes/sleeps the iPad when you open or close it.

iPad stand

Use an iPad stand to turn your iPad into an interactive, mobile presentation tool. An adjustable platform holds your device securely while you position the iPad camera to focus on a page, document, or other object. An iPad stand turns your iPad into a document camera that projects a book or document while you read and annotate the text. If you’re creating a stop-motion animation, the stand holds the camera steady as you take a series of still photos of objects. Use the iPad’s camera to zoom in and present detailed views of a 3D object. And if you purchase a mobile stand such as the Belkin Portable Stage or the Justand, you can fold it up and drop it into your bag.

Mini Bluetooth speaker

A mini Bluetooth speaker is small enough to fit into your pocket, yet powerful enough to fill the room with crisp sound. The speaker connects wirelessly with your iPad. Try the more economical Mini Jambox by Jawbone or go for even higher quality with the Bose SoundLink Mini.

External microphone

Whether you’re recording music, narrating a story, or conducting an interview, there will be times that you’ll want to record higher-quality audio than what you can get with the iPad’s built-in mic. Try connecting an external microphone to your iPad. You can opt for a high-end microphone that is designed specifically for iPads, or you can use a more reasonably priced USB microphone. If you purchase a USB microphone, make sure to purchase a USB-to-iPad connector to plug it into your device.

iPad stylus

A good-quality stylus is an invaluable tool if you ever want to write notes or sketch on your iPad. The cheapest and most common form of stylus is a capacitive stylus. It works by distorting the electrostatic field on the screen in much the same manner as your finger. Note however that a capacitive stylus is not pressure sensitive, and it doesn’t have the ability to detect and reject the touch of a palm leaning on the face of the iPad. More elaborate models such as the Pencil Digital Stylus enable you to smudge colors with your fingers as you sketch or turn the stylus around and use it as an eraser (using the companion Paper app).

Swivl

Interested in flipping your classroom or uploading lessons for others to view at their leisure? Record any lesson or presentation with the Swivl Robotic Camera. Place your device in the Swivl robot and take the Swivl remote with you as you present. The robot automatically rotates your device to follow you, capturing your presentation on video as you move around the room. The remote also contains a wireless microphone to enhance the audio quality. When you’re done with your lesson, share it with other people by uploading it to the Swivl hosting service.

Earbuds

Whether you’re in a classroom, faculty room, or any other noisy location, you’ll want to have a set of good-quality earphones for uninterrupted listening. It’s a good idea for each student to have his or her own set as well. And it may be tempting to save by purchasing a cheap set, but you’re better off paying a few extra dollars and getting a good set that will wear comfortably and last a long time. Consider purchasing a set such as the Apple earbuds that have a built-in microphone for dictation or FaceTime calling.

Headphone splitter

How do you keep the noise level down when you have students watching videos on shared iPads? Try using a headphone splitter. Plug it into the iPad and have each student plug their earbuds into one of the ports on the splitter. They can all listen quietly and at the same time. One thing to keep in mind is that the splitter doesn’t boost the audio output; it splits the existing output between all the headphones that are plugged into it.