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As a new academic staff, I received an iPad from my department. I have never owned nor used an iPad before, so it is still in the box for the past week or so. I am a bit reluctant to open it, as I am not sure if it would be useful, and I have actually been thinking of returning it to the department. But to be sure I won't regret it, is there anything particularly good about an iPad that it would be nice for an academic staff to have it?

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  • I do hope that your University or Department has special softwares developed for iOS (i.e. the operating system of the iPad). If not, well, just enjoy your iPad!
    – SteffX
    Aug 19, 2016 at 19:46
  • Did they give you this instead of giving you a more traditional computer? So you would use it for email, web browsing, preparing lectures/presentations, etc.?
    – GEdgar
    Aug 19, 2016 at 21:11
  • Could you elaborate on what your job looks like? Are you teaching? Visiting conferences? Preparing or correcting exams or tests?
    – clueless
    Aug 19, 2016 at 21:36
  • @clueless, I am not teaching, not preparing nor correcting exams or tests, and rarely visit conferences.
    – adipro
    Aug 20, 2016 at 5:13
  • @GEdgar, it was given in addition to a more traditional computer, which I always use.
    – adipro
    Aug 20, 2016 at 5:17

6 Answers 6

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Whether a tool works for you or not depends on your work style, so general recommendations are difficult.

However, you can use it for example

  • to read digital articles. There are some literature management tools that work well with iOS devices, and you can read any PDF with readers like GoodReader. With the later you can, for example, highlight text and export the highlighted text (and any notes) via eMail.
  • You can also directly access your files if you use, e.g., Dropbox (can be helpful in meetings).
  • There are also apps available for classroom management, if you do a lot of teaching.
  • You can use it for presentations (Keynote on iOS is okay).
  • It's nice if you travel to conferences (for emails and the like).

In short, there are many uses, but it depends on your work style. Question I'd have would be how your colleagues use the iPad (if it's an department wide thing). Also: That's a nice problem to have. :-)

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    I've seen my colleague using it at the end of a meeting to take a snapshot of the whiteboard where the minutes were scribbled, and then to scribble some notes on top of the picture.
    – adipro
    Aug 19, 2016 at 12:22
  • Good point, there are some note-taking apps which allow you to take notes via a pen and still have them available digitally. Aug 19, 2016 at 13:24
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    In addition to this, I've had professors teach their entire course using their tablet. They would project the tablet to the screen and used the stylus to draw over their presentations (or on a separate notepad they kept up).
    – user123
    Aug 19, 2016 at 15:57
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I don't think that an iPad does anything magically different for academic personell than for anybody else. Some of my colleagues review papers on them, some use them as a very small laptop while travelling, and (I presume) most just use it to read the news, play games, or slack off otherwise while in the train or plane.

In summary - if you have no idea what you would use it for then you probably don't need it.

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    But there is always a room for improvement...
    – Rama
    Aug 19, 2016 at 12:55
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An iPad connects to HDMI, so you don't need to bring your laptop to class (for slides).

With an added keyboard, and access to a remote server, you can work seamlessly from everywhere (on whatever OS you prefer). If you live in Europe you probably have, at least, 3g mobile access everywhere. Depending on your circumstances, this might even eliminate your need for a regular laptop.

A decade or more ago, everyone had papers everywhere. Then we started the paper less office, and an iPad works well here. Save all documents in some online drive, and you have access everywhere. Put the iPad next to your desktop keyboard, and you will never have to print anything ever (mostly).

The iPad is a decent, but not perfect, replacement for taking notes on paper. Snap a picture, and start chopping away.

There are many great apps you could use, for instance for people in math there's an app that converts hand written equations to fully valid LaTeX. You can easily sketch concepts and forward by mail.

Of course all of these apply to other tablets equally.

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I use a tablet (not an iPad) for reading articles when traveling, having copies of articles and open-source books available, and generally having all my course documents stored there for easy access at any time.

A new use has come in the last year: I may have a particular slide on the overhead, and students working exercises based on that slide while I circulate and give personal feedback. I have my tablet with me, both to (a) check the answer, and more importantly (b) have the same slideshow available to flip back to any prior topic if an individual student doesn't remember or was previously absent.

And finally: All my role-playing books for when I master events at gaming conventions.

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It's fantastic for projecting slides while being easy to carry around. Just put a lecture into a slideshow app, plug it into the projector, and put it down. Control with a remote as needed. No need to fiddle with getting it to mirror the screen.

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ZotPad in combination with Zotero and Dropbox is useful to keep track of all articles you've read.

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    This is a little overly specific and doesn't really discuss the iPad, but rather discusses Zotero's iPad app. Do you have anything to add specific to the iPad?
    – eykanal
    Aug 19, 2016 at 20:18

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