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written by Joanne M. Leight and Randall Nichols, Associate Professors, Slippery Rock University


When Apple developed the iPad, educators everywhere started to find ways to use them in the classroom. Tablet computers, like the IPad, are quickly replacing the laptop as the technology of choice for teachers and students. Why? It is lighter (1.5 lbs), more portable, and has thousands of applications that can make your life easier both in and out of the classroom.

The iPad first came onto the scene in April 2010, and sold 3 million devices in the first 80 days. The iPad was so popular that now the iPad 2 is available with a few changes from the original model, including a camera (front and rear facing). Since then many schools have embraced the iPad, and have been working to discover ways to incorporate the device into the classroom.

The iPad is a wonderful tool for using in the physical education environment, as we will detail in this article. Just to note, there are other tablet computers available on the market that may meet your needs. For example, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Blackberry Playbook, Acer Iconia Tab A500,ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, Toshiba Thrive, H.P. Slate, and Dell Streak. The iPad was the first, and the one the authors have used extensively.

The iPad is a tablet computer that was designed as a platform for audio-visual media including movies, games, books, periodicals, music, and web content. If you are interested in purchasing an iPad, there are a few decisions to make.

First is the internal storage size of the device, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB. The price increases as the storage size increases. The second decision is the type of connection to access the Internet and web content. All iPads come with a wi-fi connection, which is great when you are in the area of a wi-fi hotspot. If you want access away from hotspots, then you should go with the 3G model. Having 3G capability enables the user to use the iPad anywhere there is a 3G network, similar to a smart phone.

There is an additional fee for accessing a 3G network, and this cost varies so you will have to contact your cell phone carrier (AT&T or Verizon) for details. If you intend to use your iPad in the gymnasium or classroom, and you do not have a wi-fi connection at school, then you will want to make sure you purchase the iPad with the 3G connection if you will be using applications that require connecting to the internet. There are lots of apps that do not require wi-fi, but there are many others that do, so make sure you do your homework and figure out what type of connection will work best for you in your setting.

The iPad is similar to many smart phones (i.e. Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, etc.) with regard to what they can do, and what is available to make your device unique to your needs and personality. The biggest difference between a smart phone and the iPad is the larger size screen (9.7 inches). All iPads have a calendar, contacts and email capability. All of these can be synced between your desktop/laptop computer and your iPad.

The iPad also comes preloaded with an app for YouTube, iTunes, App Store, Videos, Photos, Notes, Maps, iPod (music, tv shows, movies, podcasts, etc.) and Safari (Apple’s web browser). The iPad 2 added Photo Booth and FaceTime, both of which utilize the front facing camera. Imagine the possibilities just with the preloaded applications.

For example, you can create videos of the activities you will be teaching in class, and then show the video on your iPad during class time. If students don't understand a particular skill, you have a video to show them. If you need music for your fitness stations, your entire music library is loaded, and playlists are created for each class or activity. In addition to videos and music, you can have photos of students performing the critical elements or the skill of the day.

You can use FaceTime or Skype to have guest speakers available during class time. You can use the iPad to take attendance, enter grades, and access all of your students' health information and emergency contact numbers. Plus there are thousands of applications, free and commercial, that you can download based on your needs and your preferences. The possibilities really are endless.

One of the best parts of using an iPad is downloading the apps. After purchasing your iPad, you will need to create an iTunes account, if you do not already have one. When you take your iPad out of the box you will need to sync it to your iTunes account on a computer in order to activate it. Once you do that you are ready to go.

You can download apps through iTunes, or the handy App Store icon located on the iPad. You do not need to sync through your computer ever again, but it is recommended to sync on a regular basis, as your iTunes account will then be your backup copy, should anything happen to your iPad. Connecting to the computer also charges the battery, but this can also occur when using the provided AC adapter.

Now that you know all about the iPad, let's talk about the apps. As mentioned previously, there are literally thousands of applications to choose from, ranging in price from free to $999.99 (an app to study for the bar exam). Most of the apps will be less than $10, with a great selection of free apps.

We have compiled some of our favorite apps into categories to help you get started. The prices are current as of the writing of this article. Also, an asterisk (*) indicates the need to have wi-fi or 3G connection to run the application.


There are hundreds of apps in the area of health related fitness. Listed below are our ten favorite fitness apps.

  1. Fitness Class* (free) - Fitness class allows you to stream workout videos over WiFi or 3G with over 230 routines to choose from. With a projector it can be used to lead a class through a variety of different group exercises. You can use your own music, or use the music included. Exercise classes range from 10-90 minutes long.
  2. Fitness Free HD (free) – With this app you will have access to over 300 exercises with photos and instructions on how to perform the exercise. It provides content on exercises for specific body parts and equipment. It allows you to add some of your own exercises to create a routine or workout to use in class.
  3. HIIT Timer (Intervals) ($1.99) - Do you use stations or want to keep your lesson on a time table? This app allows you to create intervals of any kind. You can also configure for high intensity interval and lower intensity intervals. This app allows you to add some sound effects along with a large digital time display. You can save any interval once it has been created for use in future classes.
  4. HK Now* (Human Kinetics Now) (Free) - Human Kinetics will help you to stay current and up to date with any and all trends and news in the world of sport, fitness, physical education and exercise science.
  5. iPump Stretch ($1.99) – Everything you need for a stretching session. This app includes videos and audio coaching that targets all major muscle groups. It contains images and videos of both female and male exercisers. Perfect for personal or class use.
  6. Pilates: Day by Day ($5.99) Would you like to include pilates in class? This app provides you with a selection of 11 different Pilates routines that each last 15 minutes long. This would be a nice warm-up or cool-down portion of any class. Each routine includes pictures and descriptions of movements.
  7. Pocket Innovation ($4.99 each) – Pocket Innovation has created apps for the following exercise equipment with detailed pictures, cues and videos: TRX suspension Trainer, Dumbbells, Resistance bands, Kettle bells, Swiss Ball, Vibration Plate.
  8. Yoga Free for iPad (free) – This app includes 200 different yoga poses with pictures and descriptions on how to perform each movement. The app allows you to select poses of your choice, and create your own routine depending on how much time you have to dedicate to yoga on any given day.
  9. 100 push-ups and 20 chin-ups ($1.99 each) - Based on the popular web version this app provides you (and your class) with a systematic day by day method to go from 1 push-up or chin-up to 100 push-ups or 20 chin-ups. Very simple to use and follow. These apps and ideas could be used in class during warm-up, or as a before school challenge for those interested.
  10. 1000 Exercises by Men's and Women's Health ($5.99) – Wow, 1000 exercises with descriptions, pictures and videos. This app will allow you to create just about any workout you can think of with or without equipment. It includes images of both men and women. You have the ability to publish the workouts and change them with a push of a button.


Music is such a big part of our classes, whether for station work, fitness activities, or many other uses. Listed below are some of our favorite music apps.

  1. ITGO Interval Trainer ($3.99) – This timer app is loaded with bell and whistles, literally. ITGO allows you to select times for intervals, music to go along with each interval (your own or pre-loaded), noises and sound effects to signal the chance of intervals and the tempo of music for each interval.
  2. Motion Traxx Radio ($2.99) – This app provides non- stop workout mixes that are designed for high intensity workouts (running, cardio, power walking).
  3. Music top 100 hits PRO* ($4.99) - Do you use a lot of music in class? Do you like to change your music often? Would you like to introduce your students to music from around the world? If you answered yes to these then this app is for you. This app will allow you to search hits from all across the world or choose the country and search.
  4. Power Music Hour ($.99) - Power music hour will allow you to select songs from your iTunes library, create a playlist and then play those songs for one minute at a time. You can select the middle of songs, the end of songs, etc. There is also an optional whistle noise that will tell you that the songs are changing (time to change stations?), and an option to change the length of song played.
  5. Workout Music Timer ($.99) This app will allow you to create three separate playlists: high intensity, medium intensity and low intensity. You can then select the length of time for each playlist or you have the option to move forward or back with the click of a button. The on screen display shows the amount of time in the current phase, the amount of time left in current phase, and the total time in workout (class).


There are hundreds of apps that can make your life easier professionally. Listed below are our ten favorite productivity apps.

  1. Attendance ($4.99) – This is a great app for quickly taking class attendance. It also has the capability to add students email addresses and a headshot photo. You can put the students in a seating chart as well, and easily change the chart as needed. After taking attendance you can send an email to those who are absent notifying them of what they missed. You can import CSV class lists, export data into a spreadsheet, save class reports and back-up your files with Dropbox integration.
  2. Documents to Go ($9.99) – This is a bit expensive compared to some apps, but it is a very valuable addition to your iPad if you are a user of the Microsoft Office Suite. Download Documents to Go Desktop to your computer and then you can easily transfer any Office document (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) for viewing and even editing on your iPad. The iPad must be connected to the computer to sync, but no connection is necessary to view or edit the documents once they are on the iPad.
  3. Dragon Dictation* (free) – This easy-to-use voice recognition application permits you to speak and have your message instantly transcribed into an email or text message. You can also copy and paste the message into a document. It is faster than typing and very reliable. Dragon Dictation can also be used to post messages on any social networking (Twitter, Facebook) site.
  4. Dropbox* (free) – The first app you should download is Dropbox. This free app permits you to share files across different computers or devices (iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.). Dropbox allows files in a special folder to be synced across multiple computers, accessed from any computer, and shared at any level (not shared, shared with a few individuals, shared with the world). The free version of the app permits 2GB of storage. (For $9.99 you can have 50GB.) No longer do you need to carry your USB storage device from home to the office to make sure you have all of your documents. Just keep them in your Dropbox. You can access them from the downloaded application or the Dropbox website, so they are available anywhere that you have Internet access. I have accessed Dropbox from two personal computers (PC and Mac), office computer, classroom computer, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone and Droid Incredible. This app is incredible!
  5. Evernote (free) – Whether taking notes, jotting down ideas, making a list, or adding recordings or photographs, all of this can be put into Evernote. This app will instantly synchronize from your iPad to your Windows or Mac desktop. Just set up a free account and download Evernote to your computer. You can also access your account from any computer using the Evernote website. It’s a great way to stay organized.
  6. GoodReader* ($4.99) – This is a powerful PDF reader with the capability of annotations, markup, and highlighting documents. It is also an excellent file manager, TXT file reader and editor and audio/video player. GoodReader also permits viewing MS Office and iWorks files. A nice added bonus is the fact that it will work with VGA out so you use a projector to present material to a class or group.
  7. Google Books (free) – Turn your iPad into an electronic book reader. This app offers access to over two million books available for download. You are able to change the font size, search within the book, and read in nighttime or offline mode. There are free preview pages and unlimited storage of books in the clouds. You can sync your books to your Google Books Library and have them on your iPad and your computer. The app is free, but many of the books are not. However, the price is considerably less than hard copies, and there is a selection of free books as well. If you have a Kindle you can just use the free Kindle App and use your iPad as your e-reader.
  8. Penultimate ($1.99) – This is the best handwriting app for the iPad. This app is stylish, powerful, and easy to use. You can pick the color of the ink and the weight of your pen (fine point, bold gel, etc). No matter where you may be, you can write notes, keep sketches or share your ideas. You can organize your writings by creating various notebooks and keeping your creations in the appropriate notebook. All of your work can also be synced to your computer with iTunes.
  9. SoundNote ($4.99) – This app is notepaper that allows you to record as well as type notes. Just tap a place in your note and it will play back the audio that was happening at that time. This is a great tool for taking notes in meetings or classes. If you need further clarification just listen to the audio that corresponds with what you typed. You can also write or draw with SoundNote. You can export to mail or .pdf with the audio embedded.
  10. The Weather Channel (free) – There are a number of weather apps, but the Weather Channel is one of the best. It is easy to use since it is similar to the website that many people use for weather information. For those who teach outdoors, or may have school days affected by inclement weather (snow days!), this is a good app to have.


These were difficult to narrow down, but we compiled the apps we would hate to be without (excluding those previously mentioned).

  1. 1Password ($9.99) –If you are like me, you have a dozen different usernames and passwords for the various online sites you visit or the accounts you access. This app stores all of your information in a safe and secure location. You use one master password to log in and you now have access to all of your private information in one place. If you don’t like your current passwords, 1Password will generate a password for you to keep it even more secure. It works with Dropbox so you can backup your password database in your Dropbox and then all of you machines will have the latest passwords. If you pay for the desktop app ($29.95 for Windows, $39.95 for Mac), you can have 1Password automatically enter your password for all of your secure websites when you go to those sites. It really is a great tool. I recommend you try it for free for 30 days to see if it meets your needs.
  2. Hulu Plus* (app free/ $7.99 month) – This app is free but it does require a monthly subscription fee of $7.99. This subscription is good for viewing streaming video content on a computer, mobile device, iPad, or on a device like Roku. Hulu Plus streams TV content to your iPad so you are able to view over 2,400 TV episodes for 200 seasons, and thousands of movies from the 1920’s to today.
  3. MLB* (free) / MLB At Bat* ($15) – As a huge baseball fan, this app is by far my favorite. As a paid subscriber to, I am able to watch any game on my iPad, as I can on my computer. If I was a non-subscriber, I could watch the game of the day, selected by MLB, for free. Both of these apps also have MLB news, videos, team info, schedules, standings and more. As a baseball fan of a team out of my viewing marking, this app is invaluable during the baseball season. (Local teams, however, are blacked out from viewing.)
  4. Remote* (Free) – Remote allows you to control your iTunes account via a Wi-Fi network as if you were sitting in front of your computer. You can change, pause, change playlist or browse your entire library all on the move.
  5. Runner's World* (Free)- If you are a runner this app allows you download the most current issues of the magazine along with free training and equipment tips.
  6. Tripit (free) – This is one of the best travel apps available, as it organizes all of your trips. After scheduling your travel plans, just forward the email confirmation to and it automatically enters it into the Tripit app. It is a great way to build your trip itinerary with no data entry. Even if you only travel once or twice a year, it is still worth trying this app. After booking my flight and hotel for AAHPERD, I forwarded the email confirmations to and then all of my information was available in my Tripit app on my iPad and mobile device.
  7. Social Networking* (free) – If you are a person who likes to stay connected with various social networking sites, you can download the app for Facebook and Twitter. There are variations of these two sites (Twitteriffic, Friends Focus) that may meet your needs as well. There are also apps like Boxcar that put all of your social networking feeds in one place, making it easier and faster to check your status and that of your friends.
  8. USA Today* (free)- Within minutes you can read the leading stories from around the world.


  1. Video demonstrations - The screen is large enough so that you could have a video loaded of any particular skill that you are teaching and allow a student who is having difficulty performing watch and with the ease of replay you could replay it continually throughout the day.
  2. Pictures – You can have pictures of critical elements, movement patterns, or many other options for use in the classroom/gymnasium. For visual learners a picture really is worth a thousand words.
  3. Emergency Contact Information and Health Records – You can store all of your students into class files with contact information and health records that you are given at the start of the year. This information is now at your fingertips for quick access when needed.
  4. Camera / Video Camera – The iPad 2 has both a front facing and rear facing camera, including a video camera as well. You can take photos or videos of the students for instant viewing and feedback of their own performance. A front facing camera permits video calling, and that allows communication with others outside of the school setting (guest speakers).
  5. Projection – With a VGA adaptor you can hook your iPad to a projector and show videos, slideshows, PowerPoint presentations and much more right from your iPad.


As you can see, there are many ways that you can use an iPad and various applications in your professional and personal life. Explore the options available and find the right uses for you and your program. You won’t be disappointed. The possibilities really are endless.

Randy Nichols is in his 16th year at Slippery Rock University where he is an Associate Professor and Chairperson in Physical Education Department. His has recently written and presented on physical activity patterns of youth in school settings and the using technology in PETE programs.

Joanne Leight is in her 16th year at Slippery Rock University where she is an Associate Professor and Assistant Chairperson in the Physical Education Department. She developed and teaches the course Technology for Physical Education Teacher Education, and has written and presented on using technology in Physical Education.

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