I was recently at the BETT education expo in London, and noticed how many different accessories for the iPad there were. With hundreds of cases, charging solutions and accessories to improve learning available, I’ve put together a round-up of which we think are best for education.
Music and media accessories
In the music department, iPads can be used both for sheet music and as musical instruments; in media studies they make great monitors and prompters; and the built-in camera means they’re great for animation projects too. In all these cases though, you need to somehow mount the iPad on a stand. I’ve seen a few tripods out there for this purpose, but they all seemed pretty flimsy. My favourite solution is the IK Multimedia iKlip – a bracket into which you can slide the iPad or iPad2, then attach it to a standard microphone stand. Because it attaches anywhere on the pole part of the stand, you can still have a microphone on there if you want to, or put it on a low mic stand such as the Quiklok A341 and you’ve got an articulated stand for camera work.
Recording podcasts, music, interviews and video reports is great with the iPad 2, but you may decide you want to use a better quality microphone to achieve the best sound quality possible. For the iPhone and iPod touch, the new Tascam iM2 gets great results, but I’m concerned about how tough it would be when attached to the larger iPad. That isn’t the case with the IK Multimedia iRig Mic. This is a familiar looking handheld microphone, with a simple 3-way sensitivity switch for different types of recording, and a built-in adapter on a long cable to plug the mic and some headphones into the jack socket on your Apple device. It sounds great and will open up lots of possibilities for sound measurement and recording.
Charging one iPad is as simple as plugging it in via its USB cable, but when you need to charge ten or more, a charging station is a helpful solution. For a charging station that won’t take up too much space, but is still secure, the Griffin Multidock is worth looking at. This chunky cabinet will hold ten iPads and its vertical design means it can also be locked away in a cupboard when not in use. The sloping top means you can sit a MacBook comfortably on top when uploading content to the iPads, and you can even chain two or three Multidocks together to sync more devices in one go.
If your iPads are going to be moving from place to place, you need a tough but portable solution to carry them in. Trolleys like the Monarch TabCabby make transporting up to 32 iPads easy, and with a small footprint they’re great for storing in an office or cupboard. But the best portable charging solution I’ve found is the Leba iCase Charge and Sync case. This durable plastic transit case has foam cutouts which can house 16 iPads, but also comes with a sophisticated power management unit on board so you can charge the iPads while the lid is closed and locked. This is smaller and more manageble than a full trolley, with wheels and a pull-out handle that make it easy to manoeuvre around site.
There seems to be an endless flood of cases for the iPad with all sorts of styles and colours available. While I don’t think an iPad needs a case for day to day use, for SEN and outdoors you need something that can withstand a drop. The Survivor case, by Griffin, has a thick, bouncy rubber coating, with a handy screen protector and hinged flaps over the camera and the dock connector, and also worth a look for SEN is the Griffin Airstrap. Although it’s not as protective as the Survivor, it has a clever strap on the back so you can hold the iPad securely with one hand at any angle. This makes it easier to position when using it with a disabled student, with no fear of it being dropped.
– You can take a look at our full range of Apple iPads here.