iPads in special education for beginners

To complete the text and the video tutorials, this section should take around 45 minutes. If you are new to the iPad it may be a good idea to have your iPad with you whilst completing this to tutorial. If you can’t, don’t worry it’s not essential.

Even though the iPad is said to be simple to operate you still need to get to grips with the basics. This tutorial will make you feel comfortable with its operation and by the end of the tutorial you should feel very comfortable with it and you will see why the iPad can be a fantastic tool in education.

This module covers all iPad models and is for people running iOS six and iOS seven.

In this module you will learn

  • About the external buttons on the iPad
  • About the information on the screen
  • You will learn about controlling through pinching and spreading your fingers
  • You will learn how to navigate the iPad and create folders
  • You will learn how to find, run and close apps
  • You will learn how to install and delete apps
  • You will learn how to delete apps

Introduction to the iPad.

The iPad is a fantastic machine. You can browse the Internet, use social networking, watch movies, read books, play games, do e-mail, look at pictures and of course you can use apps (programs). But let’s go from the beginning…the buttons on the outside.

The best way to begin in this module is watch the first video.

Firstly you need to switch your iPad on. Find the Sleep/Wake button on the top, and press it once.  You will then be prompted to slide an arrow to the right to unlock. If the iPad has already been used it may have a passcode, enter the passcode if necessary (it should be 4 numbers).  If not, you will be taken straight to the home screen.

The large button on the front is called the ‘home‘ button.

 Home button copy

Press the home button once and it will always take you to the homepage, which is the first page of your apps. When you are on the homepage, press the home button once and it will take you to the search page. In iOS7, you get to the search page by pulling the home page down to reveal the search bar.  From the search page you can search for any apps. When you are in the search page press the home button once and it will take you back to the homepage.

If we turn the iPad over onto its front we can see the speaker along the bottom edge. On the new iPads there are two speakers, one each side of the dock connector, but on older iPads there is only one speaker grille.

 Bottom speaker and doc copy

On the iPad, iPad 2 and new iPad you will see the larger dock connector in the centre. On the iPad Mini and iPad Air you will notice a much smaller dock connector.  You will use this for charging and connecting your iPad to iTunes.

Next, at the top of your iPad you will find the on/off button, sometimes referred to as the sleep/wake button.

top_buttons sleep wake copy

Sleep/Wake button

You can lock your iPad by putting it to sleep when you’re not using it. When you lock the  iPad, nothing happens if you touch the screen, but music continues playing (if you are playing music!) and you can use the volume button.

  • To lock iPad:  Press the Sleep/Wake button briefly.
  • To unlock iPad:  Press the Home button or the Sleep/Wake button, then drag the slider.
  • To turn iPad off:  Hold down the Sleep/Wake button for a few seconds until the red slider appears, then drag the onscreen slider. It is a good idea to turn your iPad off every few days and, should your iPad lock-up, this action often cures the problem.
  • Turn iPad on from off:  Hold down the Sleep/Wake button until the Apple logo appears.

Just below the button at the rear of the iPad you will find the rear or back facing camera.

On the side of the device you will find the mute button, slide it up and down and you will see on screen the status of the function – whether it is playing sound, at what volume or if sound is muted.

top_buttons mute

You should also note that when muted the button will show an orange dot to indicate that it’s switched off.  You can change what this button does, but we will tell you a little bit more about that later.

The button below is just a little rocker switch that controls the volume up and down,  you will see that when you turn the volume up and down, this will be indicated on the screen.

top_buttons volume

Next, let’s have a look at the headphone socket, this is also a place where you would put in a mini-jack lead to  headphones or external speaker.

Headphone_socket_and_mic_copy copy

You will also notice a very small hole in the centre of the top of your iPad, this is the microphone. So to get the best sound recording on an iPad  make sure you speak into the top of the device.

If you have a 3G enabled iPad, you will notice a few additional items. The first being a large black band across the centre top of the device, and of course a Sim card slot to put your Sim card in.  You will note a very small hole next to a long oval shape – in your original packaging you will have received a tool to open this.

The front facing camera Is located at the top centre of the screen.

So that’s everything that is on the outside of the iPad, next we will take a look at the iPad Screen. Watch this video first.

The iPad Screen

Let’s start from the top of the screen, from the left, if you have an iPad 3G you will see either the name of the carrier and signal strength or no service if you’re out of the mobile service area. If you have a Wi-Fi enabled iPad you’ll see the word iPad.

Next, if you are connected to a Wi-Fi network you will see the Wi-Fi symbol showing you how strong your signal is.

iPad Screen left copy

In the centre of the screen you’ll see the time.

iPad_Screen_Centre copy

Then over to the right you will see the battery level indicator with a percentage if you have that option turned on and a small bluetooth indicator just to the left of the battery indicator.

iPad_Screen_right copy

Next to that you may see a small arrow pointing upwards, this shows when location services are being used, we will talk about that later and about turning your location services on and off.

The Touch Interface

Most navigation on the iPad is done with simple touch gestures, such as touching an icon to launch the application or swiping your finger left or right across the screen to move from one screen of icons to the next or  swiping your finger up and down to scroll as you would with a mouse. These same gestures can do different things based on the application you are in, and usually, (hopefully!) they are common sense.

For example, while swiping your finger across the screen L/R and R/L will move you from one screen of application icons when you in the applications screens, the same gesture will move you from one page of a book to the next while in say the iBooks application.

Another thing you may want to do is to zoom in, you can do this by double tapping on the item you want to see and the iPad will zoom in (mostly) intelligently on what you want to see. But be aware that this does not work in every app, it is mainly apps with texts or web pages. Another way is to pinch using two fingers, put both fingers on screen close together and then spread them out diagonally and you will zoom in and out. Give it a try!

You can also tap and hold, and dependent on the application you are in, this will select the picture or text that you are over. For text a blue box will cover the text and have little blue dots on each side, you can use these dots to resize the selection you want, in most cases you will have copy as an option but many apps have additional options.

In addition to tapping the screen and moving your finger across the screen, you will occasionally need to touch the screen and hold your finger down. For example, when you touch your finger against an application icon and keep your finger held down, you will enter a mode that allows you to move the icon to a different part of the screen.

Navigation and Folders

Firstly let’s take a look at how you navigate yourself around the iPad. Just above the set of apps at the bottom of your screen you’ll notice some dots preceded by a very tiny magnifying glass, this indicates which page you are on within your iPad so if you scroll to the right you will notice the dot moves along to the right and if you scroll to the left the dot moves to the left. You will only see this if you have more than one page of apps.

How to move your apps around the screen.

If you press and hold on any app you will notice that they all start to wobble. Now move the app with your finger pressed lightly on the icon or app that you’re trying to move. If you move near to the edge of the screen you can relocate the app to another page. To delete an app just click on the little black cross at it’s top left-hand corner. Don’t worry about mistakenly deleting apps, the iPad will always ask the question ‘are you sure?’ Once you’ve finished moving your apps around to stop them from wobbling, just press your home button.

If you want to get really organised then you might want to create folders for your apps. To do this press and hold on an app until they wiggle, then to create a folder press and hold on the app you want to move and position it over the top of another app and it will automatically create a folder with those two apps inside.

Although the iPad will guess a name based on the two apps you have put in the folder, you can rename your folder. You can create folders for particular classes, teachers, certain kinds of apps, in fact whatever you like!

To remove apps from folders click on the folder, press and hold on the app you want to move until it wiggles then just drag it out of the folder onto your iPad screen. If you want to remove the folder altogether drag the other apps out of the folder and it will disappear.

Running Applications iOS7

Running Applications iOS6

Firstly, you need to know about the “Home” button. This is the round button by the screen on your iPad with a white square on it. It’s the only physical button on the front of your iPad.

Scrolling around your screens is good, but sometimes you want to get to your first screen (often called your “home” page) quickly.

In iOS7 you can get to your “home” page, by pressing the home button, in iOS 6 the home button will toggle between the “search” page and the homepage. Pressing home flicks between your home page and search page in iOS6.

When you find the application you want, running it is simple. All you do is tap the icon representing the application.

When you want to close the application, press the home button, and the application closes again. Your information is automatically saved.

Closing Applications iOS 7

Closing Applications iOS 6

If you’ve been running lots of apps recently its good to close them down. Most apps stay open and don’t do that much but for example apps which use GPS eg. Google Maps or TomTom may drain your battery power.

To close down your apps double tap the home button. In iOS6 this will lift the page showing your open apps at the bottom. Hold your finger on one of the open apps and a minus sign will appear in the top left corner. Tap the minus sign to close the open app.  IniOS7, simply swipe the apps upwards with your finger to close that particular app.

We close down all our apps once a week to help save battery power. However if you would like to be more efficient you can close your apps which use GPS as soon as you’ve finished using them.


You can check whether you have multi tasking gestures switched on by clicking on settings>general and then multi tasking gestures.

Once gestures is switched on put four fingers on the screen and lift up to reveal your open apps. Move your fingers back down and it covers them over again.

Open up an application and then touch the screen with five fingers and pinch in to close down the app.

Open an app and swipe your four fingers to the left and right to see your other open apps.

Finding New Apps

To get new apps find the icon called App Store. This is a square blue icon with a white A (made from a pen, ruler and paintbrush) in a white circle.

Touch the icon to launch the App Store. If you scroll down to the bottom you will see your Apple ID. This tells you which account your iPad is signed in to.

Normally the first screen that comes up will be Featured apps. In the menu, in the black bar at the bottom of the page, there are more options.

Charts shows the most downloaded apps. You can scroll through and buy from these lists.

We will cover Genius later on.

Purchased shows you all of the apps you have bought and can be useful when transferring to other iPads.

Installing and deleting apps

Some apps are free and some you have to pay for. If an app says open that means you already own it, so you can just tap to open.

Find an app you want to install and press the install button and it will then ask for your Apple Id password that you use for your account (it doesn’t ask for your Apple ID every time if you install multiple apps at once.) Enter this and your app will start installing.

Press the home button and look for your app installing, once it has downloaded it will show a New flash across it until you open it. Once downloaded you can press the icon to open your app.

To delete an app hold your finger on the app icon and all your apps will start to wobble. A little cross will appear on each app. Press the cross on the app you want to remove. It will ask if you are sure you want to delete, so confirm this to delete your app. Press the home button again to stop the apps from wobbling.

When you delete an app you still own it and can reinstall it anytime you want through the app store.


What did we learn

  • About the external buttons on the iPad
  • About the information on the screen
  • You will learn about controlling through pinching and spreading your fingers
  • You will learn how to navigate the iPad and create folders
  • You will learn how to find, run and close apps
  • You will learn how to install and delete apps
  • You will learn how to delete apps

If you find any faults, or feel that we need additions to this module, please feel free to contact us using the form at the bottom of this page.

Text,  video and images on this webpage are the property of Hirstwood Training Ltd © Hirstwood Training Ltd 2014