iPad Cart for Library Classroom

I recently explored the idea of using iPads in instruction, particularly getting a whole cart of iPads specifically for instructional purposes.  I ultimately recommended that an iPad cart would not be in the best interests of the library right now, but perhaps in the future.  From my research, I did get the sense that libraries are generally pleased with iPads, mostly due to the size, and ease of maintenance/syncing with iPad charging carts.

My main concern is that iPads are not being used to their fullest potential, which I elaborated on more at the end of the outline below.  For Emory University, iPads are only a temporary solution until they get their new library built, and for other libraries, iPads are really only offered as a time, size and space solution.  I don’t think think that’s enough reason to justify iPads for instructional purposes for an entire class.  iPads have such great things to offer, but it seems like librarians haven’t yet figured out how to grab onto those things and use them effectively in the classroom.  It’s something I’ve already been thinking about and might experiment with on my own since I have one of my own now.

General notes

  • Libraries currently using iPads for instruction:
    • Emory University (this year first time, temporary solution to no dedicated library classroom)
    • DePaul (Fall 2012 first time)
    • UVA
    • George Washington University
  • Used more like computers, not using many apps

Use Cases

  • When there are not enough computers in the classroom
  • When students don’t bring their own computer
  • outside of the library in campus classrooms
  • library tours
  • international student classes – many students have the computers set in their native languages and it’s difficult to help them on their PCs


  • Lighter and smaller than laptops
  • 9-hour battery life
  • Allows for both instructor and student to move around the room
  • Cut down on student multitasking
    • it’s a little more difficult to be engaging in personal non-library related tasks on a library iPad.
    • hopefully using the the iPad will keep students more engaged – they’re more excited about using the iPad than using Facebook and IMing their friends

Some Apps to include

  • Blackboard
  • iBooks
  • for reading PDFs
    • VCU mobile app
  • AppleTV
    • allows students to share their iPad screen through the projector
  • AirPrint
  • Libraries who provided feedback said they are not using many database mobile apps, rather, going through a browser like they would on a computer

Technology Concerns

  • Built in touch keyboard not sufficient for classes.
    • takes up too much of the screen and is difficult for some to use
    • possible solution: MiniSuit keyboards (also a case).  However, they have to be paired with the specific iPad because it uses Bluetooth technology.
  • Some databases want you to use the mobile view, which limits functionality.
  • May want to make a standard decision on which way to teach when using iPads.
  • Emory does not use the EBSCO app right now.
  • Need a charging cart
    • Bretford PowerSync Cart
    • Griffin iPad Cart
  • Need a dedicated Mac for syncing

Transportation Concerns

  • use same cart for charging and transporting?
    • won’t work bringing outside of the library
  • Hard shell roller bag for taking around campus?

Additional Equipment Needed

  • Charging cart
  • transportation method
  • keyboards
  • Mac for syncing
  • protective screen coverings
  • cases to protect each iPad during transportation and use
  • cleaning cloths


  • Could change pedagogy in teaching – does everything we teach on an iPad need to be able to be replicated on a computer?
  • It seems that most libraries are using iPads as small computers, not really utilizing iPads as app-based technology.  There are a few reasons for this:
    • it’s easier to use the technology as a small computer because librarians don’t have to worry about figuring out or teaching apps.
    • the iPads are easier to maintain, control and update if very few apps are used.
    • by using as a computer, everything done on the iPad can be replicated on the computer.  When using apps, the function and purpose is different than the experience on a computer.  If iPads are using apps as teaching tools, the classroom experience transforms.  What’s learned on an iPad may not be able to be exactly the same as what needs to be done on a computer to achieve the same result.
  • if librarians decide to use iPads for instruction, there should be a discussion as to how they should be utilized in the classroom.  Is it more important to use a valuable, exciting new technology to its fullest potential, or ensure that students are learning tools and techniques that are easily transferable to different platforms?  Are our students able to take iPad-specific techniques, and transfer them to the computer on their own?

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