Falcon Dai

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Remote Teaching with an iPad

March 16, 2020

As many schools moved classes online during the COVID-19 outbreak, I think a review of solutions for remote instructions will be helpful. I am not aware of an one-stop solution and established video conferencing tools seem to be the go-to methods. This article will focus on a specific desideratum particularly relevant for math-heavy disciplines: blackboard (whiteboard). Drawing with a stylus is easily the most intuitive hardware solution since I failed to master writing equations with a cursor.

Assuming that you are (luckily) stuck with an iPad like I do, here are some apps and tips that can turn it into an effective infinite blackboard (without dust or odor).

Google Meet

This is a business-oriented version of Google Hangout which requires a paid G-Suite subscription for hosting.

  1. Install the Google Meet iOS app.
  2. Create a meeting on your laptop at https://meet.google.com. (You can only join an existing meeting from the iOS app.)
  3. Follow instructions to screen share.
  4. Open the built-in Notes app or an alternative to draw.


You need to first install the Zoom iOS app. Then there are three different approaches.

  • Screen share and use a familiar app such as the built-in Notes to draw. I strongly prefer this approach.
  • Use the built-in Zoom whiteboard feature to draw. You can usefully divided the content into multiple whiteboards. However, I found that the rendering style of strokes makes letters hard to read and the whiteboards disappear when you tap stop share (perhaps to switch to a different content).
  • Install Zoom client on your computer and share the iPad's screen when hosting on the computer. Impressively, the iPad can connect to the host computer wirelessly via AirPlay (or with a USB cable).

Some Tips

  1. Mute all banner notifications during presentations (you can still find them in the notification center). They are distracting and potentially embarrassing. Set SILENCE to Always in the Do Not Disturb settings and turn on Do Not Disturb.
  2. Record your presentations for post-mortem analysis.
  3. Share the recorded presentations to students. They can focus more on the content and worry less about note taking.
  4. You can double-join the same meeting with another device (laptop/desktop) to keep slides or a PDF up along with your blackboard drawings. Make sure to mute one of the devices. (Not sure if the recording will work)
  5. Test your audio/video in-app before starting/joining a meeting.
  6. Present and live annotate your slides to better leverage content already on the slides.

Extra Features and Comparisons

A few nonessential features that may warrant some consideration.

  1. Recording is limited on both Meet and Zoom. It can only be initiated by hosts on a computer for both apps. However, you can record to local in Zoom with the free edition (which has a 40-minute per meeting limit) whereas Meet may require the organization admin's help to enable recording.
  2. Zoom has a neat hand raising feature which might help the host better coordinate Q&A's.
  3. Auto live caption might help make your lectures more accessible to some students.
Hand raisingπŸ‘ŽπŸ‘
Auto live captionπŸ‘πŸ‘Ž
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