Teachers often turn to presentation software to help deliver the content they choose to meet their lesson objectives, but what is the best way to do this on an iPad? Well, there is no PowerPoint for the iPad, (yet), but don’t let that put you off. There’s an app for that!
1. Keynote – A “best of” list like this would not be complete without Apple’s own venerable presentation app. In many ways it sets the standard for all the others, but its sheer simplicity and ease of use continues to surprise new users of this very capable app. Everything is optimized for a touch screen device, and presentations sync effortlessly between your Mac and iOS devices via iCloud. There are only 12 built-in themes, but a recent update to the app means you can now add your own themes without too much effort. Keynote is by far the most complete and most versatile presentation app for the iPad, but it is not your only option.
2. Haiku Deck – All the cool kids are using it, so isn’t it time you started too? Haiku Deck emphasizes minimalism. It forbids you from overloading the audience with too much information by limiting the amount of text you can add to one slide. This is great for students who may be prone to reading you their presentation, as opposed to delivering you a presentation. There is a built-in library of creative commons images that can be used for creating your slideshow, but be careful what you search for, because these images are not filtered for the classroom. However, it is hard not to impress when using Haiku Deck. The app is free, as are your first five themes, and others can be bought via in-app purchases.
3. SlideShark – This app started as a simple PowerPoint viewer for the iPad, but has since grown into so much more. It only supports PowerPoint files right now, but so long as you are okay with that, you will be able to quickly take advantage of this useful iPad presentation app. Start by uploading your PowerPoint to the SlideShark website, or use the Open In feature to send it there from another app. It plays embedded videos, and lets you read your notes. A timer keeps you on track for finishing on time, while the laser pointer and annotation tools let you draw your audience’s attention to exactly what you want them to focus on.The iPhone app can even act as a remote for your iPad to help you advance the presentation over Bluetooth.
The free account comes with 100MB of storage, but you can easily remove presentations that are taking up too much space if you don’t want to upgrade to the Pro account. To date, the only issues I have had with SlideShark is when you try to import a Keynote file that you exported as a PowerPoint. The formatting was not good, but this is more to do with Keynote’s export abilities than SlideShark’s ability to present it.
4. Nearpod – This stalwart of the classroom has been around for a while now, but it terms of interactivity, there are few better ways to deliver your presentation. This is one of my favorite apps to show teachers if they have never seen it before. The look on their faces when everybody’s iPad advances to the next slide simultaneously is priceless! Nearpod stands out from the others in terms of audience participation. Although you can use it solely as a content delivery tool, the ability to throw in a short quiz, a poll or even a live website, means that this app is a truly immersive multimedia presentation tool.
Again, the standard account is free, but further options that include more storage, or the ability to have students log in from any web browser, are available. As a word of caution though, Nearpod works best on a strong Wi-Fi network. Presentations can quickly get out of sync or grind to a halt if you are often maxing out your available bandwidth.
5. PDF Expert – Ok, so this is one is a wildcard, but it is better than you might think. If you can export your Keynote or PowerPoint as a PDF, you have some nice presentation options for showing it with PDF Expert. This app was originally created as a PDF annotator, and it does this exceedingly well, but recent updates added a presentation mode. Simply connect your iPad to a projector via VGA/HDMI or through AirPlay, and you will automatically have the option of entering the new presentation mode.
There are four options. Screen mirroring lets your participants see exactly what you see, and gives you a gamut of annotation tools with which to annotate your presentation. Document view shows them a full page document, regardless of whether you as the presenter need to scroll, zoom or pan on your screen. Again, annotation tools are available, but the toolbar is hidden from the viewer. Then there is the Screenshot mode, which freezes the curent slide for the viewer, letting you flick ahead to future slides to see what is coming up. Best of all in my opinion is the Focus mode. Simply draw a circle around an area you want to draw the audience’s attention to and PDF Expert will highlight it and dim the rest of the screen. If Readdle would add support for presenter notes, I would be a very happy man!
If you need more ideas for what to use as a presentation app on the iPad, check out my iPad Apps page for a more extensive list. Meanwhile, if you have any comments about any of the apps above, feel free to leave them in the comments below.