Mac and iPad, a Perfect Pairing in Education

By Nick Acton

The iPad has proven itself to be a brilliant educational tool. Teachers and Pupils alike continue to plumb the depths of what the device can do in the classroom. However, not as many educational establishments opt to install Macs in their ICT rooms. The price reflects its superior technological capabilities and so it makes sense that schools are apprehensive when considering Macs over other devices out there. However, taking the leap and going down the Mac route is a little less scary, when you consider the compatibility it can offer. If you are a school that already enjoys the company of iPads, bringing some Macs into your life is a very good idea. The connectivity between devices can be hugely beneficial for educational establishments. Not only can it make workflow sufficiently faster, but it can also provide transformational options for teaching and learning. 


Collaboration

Pages, Keynote and Numbers all have the capability to facilitate live collaboration. What does that mean I hear you ask? Well, it means that two or more people can be working on one Keynote presentation (for example) at the same time. What's more, this collaboration can be experienced across both iPad and Mac. Through iCloud, teachers and students alike can invite others to join them in creating a document. 
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From a student point of view, this offers a simpler way of working as a team over a joint project. For teachers, this feature means that it is much easier for them to share responsibilities. From planning lessons to preparing learning resources, a whole department of teachers can collaborate on their own device. The collaboration feature also enables pupils and teachers to get the most out of the devices. The Mac is always going to be (arguably) better when it comes to typing out long projects using Pages or Numbers. However, the iPad is a mobile piece of technology. It can enhance projects with their photographic or filming capabilities. The strengths from both devices can be used to maximum effect through collaboration. 


Airdrop

Compatibility is key. Whenever I have been frustrated with technology, it has (more or less) always been because of compatibility. This device doesn’t speak to that one. The file can’t be read on this software. You can’t plug that into this. Over the years, sharing and swapping files has become more and more doable across a range of different devices, but it’s still not completely frustration-free (I would say). iPads and Macs, however, communicate perfectly with each other. They share the same file preferences and sharing features. 
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One such sharing function is called AirDrop. Macs and iPads can share a huge number of different file types through AirDrop to one another. This process is so simplistic that normally, the transaction takes no more than three taps or clicks to achieve. The files can then be accessed, edited and shared back with the same capabilities being echoed across both devices. This simplistic feature across all Apple devices can improve workflow massively and save countless minutes. Above all though, it eliminates compatibility roadworks along the learning journey.  


Apple Books

Perhaps the most effective way to maximise the benefits derived from using both iPad and Mac is by creating and sharing educational resources through iBooks Author and Apple Books. ‘iBooks Author’ enables teachers to create interactive and informative learning resources that take the form of eBooks. These digital books are created with the capabilities of the iPad specifically in mind. Students can swipe and zoom in and out of the pages, enjoying videos; galleries of images; 3D moveable objects and much much more. It goes without saying but creating multi-media onscreen experiences for your students is always going to be more engaging than dusting off the old textbooks. iBooks Author is as easy to use as any other Mac app and so teachers can create engaging technological resources in no time at all before publishing them to the Apple Books store for students to download.

The Apple Books app itself is incredibly useful for teachers and students alike. Hundreds of Educationally relevant books can be downloaded completely for free on the app. Because the entire experience is digital, teachers and pupils can highlight, make notes and bookmark the text without having to effectively ruin a physical book. 

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Prior knowledge is a powerful educational tool. Students feel much more comfortable when they approach a new subject with some background understanding. Come to think of it, that same rule applies to teachers. For schools that have gifted their children and teaching staff with iPads, introducing Mac is a natural progression. The device functionality and the software on both iPad and Mac mirror each other beautifully. Like a younger and older pair of siblings, they share the same DNA but bring their own strengths to the table. Students and Teachers will not have to relearn or start from scratch when using a Mac for the first time. If they have utilised an iPad in the past, the more powerful Mac will be familiar to them straight away. Apple apps like iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Keynote and Numbers can be found and used to great effect on both devices. It being a more powerful machine, the Mac offers more capabilities within these apps but the feel and look of them are the same providing much-needed synchronicity. Whilst I understand the need for children to explore a wide range of devices, I do feel that this should not come at the expense of their learning. If the hardware is getting in the way of technological progression, then it can seriously hold a student back. Using both Mac and iPad in harmony eliminates this problem and creates a perfect digital environment for education to flourish within. 

Nick Acton is an Apple Curriculum Specialist at JTRS as well as being a part-time Computing and Music teacher. Through the creation of bespoke training, Nick specialises in empowering educators so they can embed Apple technologies into their day-to-day classroom practice. 

If you liked this article, read how a Mac can make a teacher's life easier, or visit our Accessibility page.