Increasing productivity with the iPad

By Jay Hsiao, instructional designer

As a recent student myself, I enjoyed learning on my iPad not only because of the lightweight form factor with long battery life, but also because I was able to be productive with it for learning. Besides the many apps available in the App Store, there are features built into iOS (now at version 11) that are great for productivity.

Ultimately, like any other technology, the iPad is a just another tool. The goal of Office of Teaching and Learning is to help you with optimizing the tool for your daily learning activities, both inside and outside of the classroom, while working with the instructors and the curriculum to affect technology-agnostic changes that’d improve the overall educational experience.

Back to the topic of iOS, have you discovered the Tips app? The Tips app offers a fantastic collection of productivity and creativity ideas – here are a couple of my personal favorites:

  • Quick settings: You might have already figured out that you can access quick settings (including mute and Do Not Disturb!) by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, but you can actually customize it in iOS 11. To do that, go to Settings, Control Center, then Customize Controls.
  • Widgets: If you have or are using an Android device, you may be familiar with these quick bites of information called widgets. Widgets are also available in iOS, by first swiping down to reveal the notifications, then left to reveal the widgets screen. Some apps that you use may come with a widget – check by swiping to the bottom fo the widgets screen, then Edit.
  • “Right-clicking” on the iPad: While the iPad doesn’t have the nifty Force Touch feature that newer iPhones have, try to discover the of extra actions that maybe available to you by tapping and holding on an app or a toolbar icon. For example, you can press and hold on the Notability app icon to access recent documents.
  • Single-app mode: By default, iOS presents only one app on the screen at a time. I’ve found this to be a productivity in that it helps me focus on only whatever I’m working on or reviewing at the moment, especially when used with Do Not Disturb.
  • Master the dock: Once your iPad is unlocked, you are able to call it up any time by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. For me, I put (drag and drop) all of my most used apps directly on the dock, and other apps that I use frequently in a folder on the dock. The dock holds up to 15 apps (for 12.9” pro), including a special section on the right side for recently used app, suggested apps based on usage habits, and Handoff apps that lets you continue what you’re currently working on on other Apple devices.
  • Multitasking: You can work with two apps at the same time on the iPad – notice that all apps support multitasking. There are two multitasking modes: slide over and split view.
    • To put an app in slide over mode, first swipe up from the bottom to call up the dock, press and briefly hold on an app icon, drag it onto the screen so it shows a rectangular outline, then let go. Slide overs float on top of the main app that’s open, and can be put either on the left or right side of the screen. You can even hide your slide over app by swiping it into the left or the right side of the screen, then call it back out by doing the opposite.
    • To put an app in split view mode, you would follow the same steps above, but before letting go, you would hover the app outline over the left or right side of the screen until the main app shrinks, then let go to put the second app in place. You can add a third app in slide over mode when you have two apps on the screen, but you would not be able to interact with them.
  • Spaces: When you use split view multitasking, you are essentially creating workspaces that you can quickly switch to and from. For example, if you are writing a paper and you’ve already collected references, you may create a workspace with Word and OneNote; if you are taking notes while watching lecture capture, you may create instead a workspace with Safari and Notability … with some captures, you may even be able to open the video in Picture in Picture mode!
  • Your apps work together: there are a couple features that iOS provides that lets your apps work together, including: 1) share sheet functionality that we talked about during orientation, which lets you send content from one app to another (for example, the Safari Apps lets you save a webpage as PDF using the share sheet); 2) file organization and usage through the Files app and the file picker, including sources such as offline, iCloud, and BuckeyeBox storage; and 3) as of iOS 11, you are now able to drag and drop content between apps that support it. We plan to write more about workflows in future updates.
    • Speaking of iCloud, we STRONGLY encourage that you backup your iPad to iCloud and turn on iCloud Backup – you would be glad that you did in the worst case scenarios that you lose your iPad, or your iPad becomes nonfunctional. You can do so by going to Settings, tap you profile at the top of the list (or sign in), then iCloud.
  • One last bonus – take a screenshot then annotate: if your courses assign videos for you to review, you can take a screenshot a desired frame of the video by pressing the Home and the Power buttons simultaneously, or by pressing Cmd-Shift-3 (for whole screen) or Cmd-Shift-4 (for part of the screen) on the keyboard. Once you have taken a screenshot, a preview of it will show on your screen, which you can then annotate using, for example, your stylus. When you are done annotating, use the Done button to either delete or save the screenshot to your Photos, or use the share sheet to forward it on.
I hope that you will find the iPad/iOS tips that I have listed here useful. Feel free to reach out to Teaching and Learning if you have questions!

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