Using the iPad during tutorials to talk through drafts

 EAP, Technology  Comments Off on Using the iPad during tutorials to talk through drafts
Oct 122013
 

Last year, I started used my iPad during one-to-one tutorials with my EAP class. This is what happens:

  • First, students send me their draft by email. I add some written feedback with the comment feature of MS Word and send it back at least one day before the tutorials.
  • Students go through my feedback/comments, make changes, prepare questions for the tutorials.
  • Some students prefer to print out their draft with my comments but not all, and they don’t have to.
  • During the tutorials, I sit in a nice, quiet place with my students, and we have 10-15 min together for any questions they might have.
  • When it comes to talking about the draft, I open the student’s draft on my iPad and we go through the text looking at some of my comments and I answer the student’s questions or they explain to me what they have changed, what they meant, etc.
I was using DocsToGo for this. When I added a comment, which in Word is a coloured rectangular box on the right side, it is indicated in DocsToGo as a yellow square within the text with my initials: [NK]. If I want to see what the comment says, I need to click on the square bracket and the comment text pops up. Although this works quite nicely, it is not very efficient when there are lots of comments as they all look the same and I or the student first has to click on one to see the comment text.
A student's draft with my comments indicated in yellow

A student’s draft with my comments indicated in yellow

Then I saw that one of my Chinese students who had an iPad had an app, Office2 HD, that showed the comments just like in MS Word. So, I immediately bought it and have been using it since. It’s much more efficient as one can quickly scroll through the comments and find what one is looking for. This way, the precious tutorial time is not wasted searching.
The same draft displayed in Office2 HD

The same draft displayed in Office2 HD

As always there is no perfect solution. I found out that neither of the two apps, nor the Dropbox app always show the formatting of MS Word documents correctly, especially if it isn’t just flowing text but if there are titles, centralised text, content pages, etc. This makes it difficult to use the iPad to comment on such things as formatting, page numbering, layout, etc. This and the fact that typing and commenting is faster on the laptop/desktop means that I still use my laptop/desktop to provide most feedback but don’t need to carry the laptop to work for tutorials and some other tasks.