When I received the iPad, one of the questions that popped up in my head was “Can I do coursework on this?”
By coursework, I mean write ups, not programming or anything extreme.
Word for iPad is preinstalled on the FST iPads
Towards the end of the first semester, we were given a coursework which involved filling out a template (Professional Practice, CW2) and I thought I would try to do it on the iPad. It sounded easier than it was. I was able to open the doc right from the iPad on Safari, and then ‘copy’ it to Word.
It turned out okay, but some of the formatting was lost and it was difficult to keep up with the template. I didn’t want to risk messing up the template and getting a low grade 😛
I eventually scrapped this idea, and completed the coursework on a traditional PC instead.
For another module, we had to do a write up about a website we had created. It had to be a page long maximum and this was easy as I could simply start the writing on the iPad straight away. So I got into Word for iPad, and starting typing.
The experience of typing on iPad is strange, as you’re basically striking a flat pane of glass and it takes some time to get used to. I also noticed that I made quite a few typing errors on the iPad – more than I would make on a physical keyboard, but there was no lag in the keyboard which was good.
My Apple Wireless Keyboard connected to the iPad over bluetooth. Virtually no lag between key strokes.
I actually hooked up my Apple Wireless Keyboard to the iPad (via bluetooth), to give that a try and it was much better to type on. You can even use normal keyboard shortcuts! If in doubt of the shortcuts, you can invoke a pop-up of available shortcuts by holding down the Command key. Using the physical keyboard made the iPad less mobile, and I can’t see myself carrying a physical keyboard around with it. To me, it defeats the purpose of becoming lightweight and I might as well carry my laptop instead. I am aware of keyboard cases, but then you sacrifice thinness and portability again!
Back to just using the onscreen keyboard:
Despite the minor drawbacks, I managed to do it! At the end of it, I simply opened OneDrive on my PC, downloaded the file and did a quick spell check, and then uploaded it to blackboard.
The advantage of this was that I could do coursework (as boring as it sounds) on the iPad from anywhere – such as the tube, where journeys can seem long. Sometimes you don’t feel like sitting at a computer or having a laptop out and this was an easy way to complete my work while doing other things. Ultimately, you can’t leave a normal computer out of the equation, because you need a way of uploading to blackboard, and that’s something only a PC lets you do.
To summarise, yes you can do some coursework on the iPad, but it will take time to get used to it. Using the physical keyboard was good for when you’re not going to move around or have a desk to sit at. The layout of Word for iPad is heavily optimised for a touch screen so you might find some power features missing too. It’s great for getting started on work, not doing it completely on iPad Air. That’s probably where iPad Pro excels.