Teaching Class without a Notebook


I have been using Keynote since 2006 to present slides in the classes I am teaching, but starting this spring, when I bought an iPad 2, I began using the Keynote for iPad to present my slides in class. The tablet edition lacks a few of the desktop features I need when presenting. For example, I like having a clock, current and next slides, and presentation notes on my presenter’s screen. The desktop edition has it, but the tablet edition can only show the current slide with notes or the current and next slides. Oh well.

There are a few real advantages to using an iPad. The biggest one is that I don’t have to tote my notebook computer around in my bag. The other thing is that because Keynote for iPad is pretty basic, lacking support for certain transitions and embedded video, and that limitation keeps you from pimping your presentation, which is one of the reasons I used Keynote in favor of Powerpoint. Less is more.


Speaking of “less is more,” presenting from an iPhone is even better. One of the disadvantages of presenting with an iPad is that you can’t present, using the Apple VGA Adapter, and charge your iPad at the same time, unless you’re willing to do a little surgery. This was an issue a few weeks ago, when I realized I was running low on battery power and needed to finish a presentation. I ended up importing my presentation to my iPhone since that device had a lot more juice, and I had Keynote for iPhone installed.

How did it work? It didn’t miss a beat. In fact, it was even preferable because you won’t have your iPhone display mirrored in your presentation. Your audience only sees what you present. That’s important because I don’t want everyone to see me enter my passcode every time the device auto locks.

But as many have said, don’t throw away your desktop or notebook computer. It is very hard to make presentations from scratch on an iPad or an iPhone. I find it easier to create the presentation on an iMac (or a MacBook Pro) because I have to add a lot of images to my presentation, and it’s easier to place those images with a computer because you have that pesky file system. Also, you can’t create a presentation using your own theme, which is a bummer because I have bought and created quite a few over the years. (If you create your presentation on a computer, Keynote for iPad/iPhone will import it with a few warnings but few noticeable changes.)

Currently, moving the presentation from your computer to your iPad/iPhone is a little challenging. I prefer using Dropbox to keep the most current presentation from my computer available on my iDevice. Make sure you have the Dropbox app installed on your iOS device, load your presentation, and open it using your Keynote app. iCloud might make things easier, but I won’t know yet until it actually comes out next week.

Have you tried to present with your iPad? Are you ready to leave the notebook computer at home as I’ve begun to do?

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