What’s on Your iPad: Jordan Beel

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Jordan Beel iPad home screen

What’s on Your iPad? A simple question but one that leads to some fascinating answers. This is another installment of our now-regular series of What’s on Your iPad posts. I enjoy these a lot because I love seeing how people put their iPads to use – and I find them a great resource for discovering new apps.

Today’s answers are provided by Jordan Beel. Jordan is an educator who is very interested in and involved in the subject of iPad in Education. Here’s a little more profile info on him:

I am a father of two and a high school assistant principal in West Michigan.  I’ve been in Education for 9 years, and have been intrigued and passionate about the integration of technology in the classroom since I began my career as a Social Studies teacher.  Our district is in the process of exploring options for an eventual 1:1 program as funds are made available, and I have been highly involved in that process as well as providing training for teachers & district administrators on several tech-related topics.  I’ve recently began reading the iPadinsight blog and it’s been great.  Keep up the good work!

Here are Jordan’s answers – questions are in regular text, Jordan’s answers are in block quotes:

Which iPad model do you use? (original or iPad 2, WiFi or WiFi + 3G, storage size) Any particular reasons for choosing this model?

I have the 3rd gen. WiFi model, 16GB.  I’ve also got the original iPad, which is now mostly relegated to use by my two children.  I keep most of my music on my iPhone, and don’t need the additional storage of a 32 or 64GB model.  With most of the documents I use stored in cloud-based services, it’s even more of a reason to just go with a smaller GB model.  I recently upgraded to the Verizon iPhone 5, and have been enjoying the WiFi hotspot feature with my iPad.

Do you use any sort of case with the iPad? If so, which one/s and why?

I’ve been using a pretty basic, black leather case from Snugg.  I recently got the Brydge Keyboard, which doesn’t really work well with any kind of additional case/protection, but looks fantastic.  I debated putting a matte finish screen protector on (I’ve got  one on my first gen. iPad), but didn’t want to take away from the retina display.  I still might put a glossy finish screen protector on, as I’m nearly obsessive about using a cleaning cloth to remove oily fingerprints on the screen.

What’s on your iPad dock currently? Do these apps pan out as your most frequently used?

For the most part, I’m using iPad to browse the web, productivity at work, and social media (both for work and personal usage).

On the dock are: Safari, Mail, Twitter, Notability, G-Whizz, and GoObserve.  I try to move apps around on the screen as necessary, so these are probably the apps I use most.  Google+ and Yahoo Fantasy Football are getting quite a bit of use these days and probably deserve a bump up at some point.  I’ve never considered putting folders on the dock until I saw some other screenshots from these posts, so that could happen very soon.  I’ll probably move my “Productivity” folder to the dock as that’s my most go to.

Notability:  One of my favorite apps that I use frequently at work – especially since the most recent update included the ability to sync with Google Drive.  The prior versions allowed use with DropBox – which was nice, but our school district has been using Google Apps for a couple of years now, and the seamlessness with which I can import & export documents/notes to and from this app is great.  I use the Adonit JotPro stylus when taking notes and keeping meeting agendas, and I can share them quickly and nicely through Drive.  An additional plus: I’m convinced that my handwriting looks better on Notability than on pen & paper!

G-Whizz:  Basically a Google Apps browser that I use only for editing documents in Drive.  Lets me work on spreadsheets as well as documents, which is something the current version of Google Drive app lacks.  When they update to be able to edit all forms of docs and they read converted Word files a bit better, I’ll be deleting G-Whizz in favor of the Drive app.  I just like the look and simplicity of the UI much better.

GoObserve:  An app for walkthrough and full observations of staff.  This app is created by GoKnow, and their staff has been wonderful for our district to work with.  Because we purchased this license en masse, they’re very quick to fix things on the individual user level that need fixing.  Allows for integration of contacts and generates reports based on input during evaluations, and it’s easy to customize your version for your organization and have that pushed to other iPads in your company/school.

What are some of your other most-used apps / what’s on your first home screen? (and any reasons why you’d like to offer)

This might be difficult to believe, but I try to keep everything I use and all my folders on the first home screen.  Also, because I sacrificed storage for the better price, if I don’t use an app for a while, I delete it.  Depending on what I need to do with Google Docs, I often use the Google Drive app to browse, read, and share documents.  G-Whizz (basically a Google apps browser) is slightly better for creation/editing of documents, as the Google Drive app does not allow editing of tables in Documents, and has only recently allowed editing of spreadsheets.  I’m planning on trying to use the Drive app more extensively.

How do you arrange your home screens? Do you use folders at all / heavily?

I use folders pretty heavily for keeping things organized.  Media for all things music & video, including GarageBand.  I don’t really like flipping screens much, so I basically have the home screen where everything is, and one additional screen that has a couple rarely used apps like Find my iPhone & Find my Friends.  Most of the built-in apps are at the top of my screen, with folders all at the bottom.

What are some of your most used productivity apps on the iPad? Any that you use for work?

Notability – as mentioned a bit above. If you don’t have this app, get it. Great for handling pdf files, and now with the ability to sync with Google Drive, it’s a must-have, especially with a quality stylus.

G-Whizz – currently the best option for editing Google Documents, although GoDocs has been updating recently and may be another option I explore.  G-Whizz isn’t perfect by any means, and now that the recent update of the Google Drive app allows for editing of spreadsheets, I’ll likely be using that in place of G-Whizz.

Pages & Keynote – Any document creation I need to do and make it look great, I use pages.  I’ve been using Keynote for any & all presentations I give to staff, and the Keynote Remote app on my iPhone works great for mobility to advance slides and see notes during presentations.  I’m excited to utilize the additional templates that were just shared/reviewed on this blog in the “Key Templates” app.

Do you read any newspaper or magazine apps on the iPad? Do you subscribe to any?

I use Newsstand mostly for the NY Times app, but also read Huffington Post on it as well occasionally.  Zinio is a fantastic app as well – especially with all of the free subscriptions offered initially if you signed up.  I read Rolling Stone mostly on Zinio – it looks awesome.  Flipboard for iPad is great for reading my Twitter & Instagram feeds also.

How much, if any, book reading do you do on the iPad?

My hard-copy book purchased have decreased significantly since I’ve been using iPad.  I love reading on it.  Sure, I can still appreciate the feel of a paper copy of a book, but at this point I’ve all but fully converted to reading on the iPad.  I’ve used both the Nook and Kindle apps as well if there’s a title I can’t find on iBooks.  I feel like I read faster on it, and the retina display really stands out reading text.

For K-12 education purposes, the textbooks being created by the various companies that have partnered with Apple look fantastic.  We are currently exploring options for an eventual push toward 1:1 technology with our students, and the iTunesU and textbook options available for iPad are what’s keeping that as an option that’s high on our list.

Any favorite iPad games or fun time fillers?

I sometimes play games, but they usually get old pretty fast.  The one that I currently have a minor addiction to is Letterpress.  Pretty fun to play back and forth with family and friends, and Letterpress has a bit more strategy and is more fun involved than the ever-present Words With Friends.

Any killer apps you think are missing from the iPad App Store, apps you’d love to see come to the iPad?

There are several pretty good InstaGram readers for iPad, but I would love to see an iPad specific app directly from the creators of the brilliant photo-sharing app.

This isn’t an app specific, but I’m really wondering is whether Apple is going to improve their cloud-based sharing.  It would be wonderful to be able to freely and easily collaborate on iWork documents.  I use Keynote and Pages quite a bit, and would much rather share documents with colleagues and work on them in the cloud rather than saving, emailing and updating individual copies.  In the war of Google v. Apple, I’m not sure Apple has any intention of copying the Google Drive model.  That said, I still utilize my iCloud services regularly working on documents both on my iPad and at home on my iMac.

Do you tend to pay much attention to your home or lock screen wallpaper? Change it up often?

I do change it up regularly.  Usually, I’ll take an image of mine I really like and use Camera+ app to dress it up, and make it my background.  Currently, I’ve got a nice festive picture of my Frasier Fur Christmas tree as the background.  I’m a sucker for holiday decor and Rat Pack Christmas songs, so my background is in the same vein.

Big thanks to Jordan for doing this post with us today. I’m also very interested in iPad use in education and I love hearing from educators and seeing how they’re putting it to use.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out the excellent previous entries in the What’s on Your iPad series too.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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3 thoughts on “What’s on Your iPad: Jordan Beel

  1. Thanks for the post. I’m always interested in seeing how educators are using their iPads. We’re just starting to get involved with mobile devices… so the more I can show good use case scenarios for iPads in the classroom – the better.

    • I’m keen to learn on this subject too Brandon. I’ve been helping at my daughter’s school a little in this area and I just find it fascinating anyway.

  2. I use my iPad 3 with 3G, WiFi, 64 GB for
    – blogging at WordPress.com
    – managing bank accounts
    – checking imported CSV-Files
    – testing DBMSs apps
    – design layouts for software applications