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With every iteration of the iPad and its operating system (formerly iOS and now iPadOS), we’ve seen updates which have had a huge impact on the ways that teachers teach and students learn. From the big hardware jumps, such as with the addition of a front and rear facing camera on the 2nd generation iPad, to the introduction of the amazing Apple Pencil, OS developments such as split screen, drag and drop, better Siri integration and more – as technology develops, so do the features and functionality that bring us those efficiencies and improvements.

This season saw the introduction of iPadOS 15 to iPad and, with it, some great updates to help all users benefit.

In this short post, I’ll share five of my favourite developments and new features which will, I’m sure, bring additional improvements to the work teachers can do with their iPad.

Easier Slide Over/Split Screen

One area a few educators have found difficult to master through the series of gestures required to make it happen has been the way in which apps can interact with Slide Over and Split Screen. With the latest version of iPadOS, Apple has added three little dots to the top of the screen.

When you tap those three dots, you can now easily choose from three simple options:

 Make an app Slide Over

 Turn Slide Over into Split View

 Turn an App to Full Screen

For more information on this feature, please visit here.

Focus mode – great for supporting self-regulation

A development in iPadOS 15 is the addition of the new ‘Focus Mode’. Focus is a development from the long-standing ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature available on iOS. Focus is a customisable focus mode that enables you to turn off notifications and other features that can disturb someone from the work they’re undertaking whilst using their iPad.

Focus automatically suggests several scenarios for you, such as Sleep, Work and Do Not Disturb, but the beauty of this new feature is that you can create custom scenarios for its use. This can be set by time or even by location; so, if you want to make it so that notifications are off whilst at school or at a scheduled time for completing homework, this is the update for you! It could even spark some interesting and timely conversations in tutor time around wellbeing, FOMO (fear of missing out) and an issue reported by some users with ADHD who report increased anxiety sparked by repeated notifications and interruptions on devices.

To learn more about Focus mode and how to set up different scenarios, visit here.

Translate

Built directly into iPadOS 15 is Apple’s new Translation feature. Available as a stand-alone app and with integration built directly into the operating system, translation is now super-easy to facilitate.

From live conversation translation between two individuals speaking two different languages to the opportunity to translate directly within any app, this must be a sure-fire win for accessibility for EAL learners in the classroom.

You can download the Translate app directly from the App Store. To learn more about this new feature in iPadOS 15 visit here.

Bespoke, per App, text size

A great addition for accessibility is the updated Text Size feature within iPadOS. You’ve long been able to change the text size across all apps, but with iPadOS 15 you can now granularly control the size of text for any given app. So whilst you might, for example, be happy with the size of the font in Mail, you might want the font in Twitter to be a little larger. The process for doing this is simple and available via your Control Centre. The key thing to remember is to make sure you have this option turned on in your Control Centre. For more information on this and how to make it work, please visit here.

Quick Notes for the win!

Notes are something that all students make use of, and us adults too. Sparking off or continuing with your previous note is now even easier on your iPad in iPadOS15. There are several ways you can start a Quick Note, depending upon how you use your iPad:

  1. If you have an Apple Pencil, swipe up from the bottom right-hand corner.
  2. If you don’t have an Apple Pencil, use your finger to swipe up from the bottom right-hand corner.
  3. If you have a keyboard attached, simply press the Globe key and Q.
  4. If you’d rather, you can also add the Quick Note function to your Control Centre via Settings.

If you have an Apple Pencil, you can still easily start a Quick Note from a sleeping screen. The additional benefit now is that you can just as easily start a Quick Note from a screen that is on, as described above.

Additional new features in Notes are also helpful, such as link inclusion, tagging (particularly useful if your iPads are deployed using Managed Apple IDs.

For more information on the updates mentioned above, please visit here.

In summary

These are just a few of the updates to iPadOS 15 that we feel will be of particular interest to those using iPad in education. There are plenty more features that will be of interest however, and we recommend having a look through all of the updates to find ones that are relevant to your school and setting.

In addition, we also strongly suggest looking at some of the updates available to the various iWork apps. There have been some fantastic updates here too, such as the ability to include Live Video in tools such as Keynote – perfect for creating those remote, hybrid and blended learning resources that so many of us need now in our post-COVID world.

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