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EduTech: The best accessories for using iPad & iPad Pro in the classroom

EduTech is a 9to5Mac weekly series that focuses on technology’s application in education, lower and higher level, both for productivity and enjoyment. If you have suggestions for topics or specific questions you’d like to see answered, feel free to let me know. Catch up on past installments here. 

In this week’s installment of EduTech, we’re taking a break from our recent app coverage to highlight some hardware that will make life in the classroom a bit easer. Specifically, we’re going to focus on iPad accessories that are of great use in the classroom, including keyboards, docks, styluses, and more.

Even though we hear many doomsday stories about iPad in the classroom, and about the iPad in general, the device is still heavily relied upon by students and teachers around the world. Chromebooks may be popular, but that doesn’t change the fact that iPads are also one of the most common learning devices.

One of the biggest benefits of using an iPad in the classroom is the vast market of accessories available for it. Companies have been making iPad accessories ever since the device’s beginning, which means at this point in its life-cycle, there are some pretty useful ones available.

Read on as we break down the best accessories for using an iPad in education…

Keyboards

The iPad has long been compared to a computer, especially by Apple itself, and one of the accessories that most helps justify that comparison is an an external keyboard. The iOS keyboard is the best software keyboard I’ve ever used, but for writing long-form papers and taking notes, it’s really beneficial to have a physical keyboard.

There are a variety of options on the market for iPad keyboards, and it somewhat depends on whether you’re using an iPad or an iPad Pro. Fear not, as we’ll tell you the best choice for either device.

If you’re using a normal iPad, my personal pick for a keyboard is the Brydge Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard ($ 129.99). This keyboard is backlit and detachable, meaning that if you don’t need it right that second, you can snap it off and slide it back in your backpack. The Brydge, in my testing, provides the typing experience that’s closest to what you get with a laptop.

If you’re using an iPad Pro, Apple of course makes its own Smart Keyboard, but that’s not my recommended choice. My choice is Logitech’s CREATE Keyboard ($ 129.99), which connects via the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector, includes an Apple Pencil holder, and has a much better key design than Apple’s own Smart Keyboard.

One important thing to note here: If you choose an iPad Pro keyboard that connects via Smart Connector, it will only work with the iPad Pro. On the other hand, most other keyboards connect via Bluetooth and thus can be used interchangeably. The central thing to look for when shopping for an iPad keyboard is to ensure that it’s compatible with the iPad model you have.

Below are some other options that connect via Bluetooth, just make sure they are compatible with your iPad.

Stylus

Using a stylus is a mixed bag. In some instances, it can dramatically help  productivity, but it really depends on what you’re doing and the quality of stylus that you buy. Personally, I only really recommend using a stylus if you’re an iPad Pro user and thus can use the Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil is far and away the best stylus I’ve ever used with the iPad. The level to which its integrated with iOS is what really makes it work so well. It’s somewhat pricey, but you can get it on Amazon right now for $ 85.87, a $ 15 discount compared to Apple’s list price. If you’re someone using an iPad Pro in education, the Apple Pencil is a no-brainer purchase in my opinion.

If you’re not using an iPad Pro, or don’t want to shell out that much cash for an Apple Pencil, there are a few other options available. The best stylus in my testing is the Adonit Dash 2 ($ 49.99). The Dash 2 features 14 hours of battery life and offers the closest experience to the Apple Pencil that you’re going to get, and at half the price nonetheless.

Adonit also has the Jot Pro ($ 22), and it’s a bit more basic and actually doesn’t require charging of any sort. For artists specifically, FiftyThree sells its own Pencil stylus ($ 30) that works with the popular Paper app on iOS.

If you’re using a stylus with iPad or iPad Pro, check out our full guide of the best note taking apps here.

Other Accessories

A stylus and keyboard are the two most basic accessories that make using an iPad in education much easier, but there are some other accessories that also make education and learning easier.

One of the most popular tools is Osmo ($ 79.99), a game system that makes learning with iPad a hands-on experience. It’s kind of hard to explain, so watch the video below for a full demonstration:

If you’re working in any sort of media or photography school, you can’t go wrong with a Lightning to SD card adapter ($ 14.99).

Wrap up

These are just a few of the accessories that makes life with an iPad in education much better. This is very much just the tip of the iceberg, though. If you have any other suggestions, let us know down in the comments.

Check out previous installments of EduTech: 

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