Typing on the 9.7″ Smart Keyboard

For the past several months, my 9.7″ iPad Pro has functioned as my laptop and my 15″ MacBook Pro as my desktop. Right from the start, I was blown away at how easy it is to type on 9.7″ Smart Keyboard. Most of the posts on this site since the beginning of May have been typed this way.

On June 2, just before WWDC, I sent this to a friend with whom I discuss tech stuff every day:

Today, I’m really happy with the 9.7. Little table full of papers, big coffee, and plenty of room for the 9.7 w/keyboard. Can sit back and easily navigate with one hand. Ideal portable computer. I think I want the bigger one only when I want to sit down and do nothing but write. This is at least once a day. I’m not even sure, however, if the 12.9 would be better for this purpose because I have absolutely zero difficulty with this small keyboard. I would just like more space, more screen real estate.

I’m hoping the 10.5″ will be a perfect balance of portability and productivity, but we’ll see. I just opened Tap Typing to do a speed test, and this was the result of my typing test on the 9.7″:

I’m looking to make a move to the 10.5, but I wanted to post a note about what a pleasure my 9.7″ has been. The keyboard and pencil capabilities changed the game for me. On June 4, Forbes posted a “very long-term review” of the 9.7″ iPad Pro and called it the world’s best tablet. I would link to that article, but Forbes is one of those sites that has automatic popups and makes you click three times to get all the distracting nonsense out of your face and actually see what it is you are trying to read.

If you are considering an iPad purchase, you can check out my 9.7″ here.

Zoom & GoodNotes for Online Teaching

This is a season of lasts. The last Greek 3 class has come and gone, today is the last day of exams, this afternoon will be my last private Greek lesson with two particularly amazing students, and yesterday was the last online lesson with a student I have been teaching Classical Greek.

Two apps have helped make this a successful year of online teaching — GoodNotes and Zoom. Zoom is simply the best online classroom environment I can imagine, and GoodNotes is my favorite digital writing platform.

Zoom

Neither you nor the student nor the student’s family have to be tech savvy. It is as simple as sharing a link and following the instructions. If you meet with a student at a set time every week, Zoom allows you to schedule individual online meeting rooms. If, however, you meet at different times every week, you can just use the personal room you are given when you sign up.

My favorite feature of Zoom is how easily I can use it with my iPad Pro as a digital whiteboard. I normally run the meeting through the Zoom app on my MacBook. When I need a whiteboard, I click a share screen button, choose share iPad screen, and then connect my iPad to the MacBook via AirPlay. It has worked seamlessly throughout the entire school year.

At times I have been without my laptop, and I simply ran my meetings via the Zoom iPad app. This worked smoothly, as well.

GoodNotes

GoodNotes is the digital hub that connects me, the student, and any writing or assessments that are transferred between us. For whiteboard purposes I created a notebook called Greek Scribbles. This is where all our in-class, random notes go. I also have a notebook to keep up with assessments. The assessment workflow goes like this:

  • Quizzes and tests are sent to me as PDFs.
  • I drop them into our GoodNotes assessment notebook.
  • I grade the assessments with an Apple Pencil in GoodNotes.
  • GoodNotes automatically backs up the notebooks as PDFs to Google Drive (or Dropbox or others).
  • I share the assessments notebook PDF via a Google Drive link.

Now the student and the student’s family always have digital access to all of their assessments as soon as I finish grading them.

This is the method I have used all year for three weekly online lessons, and I recommend these apps without hesitation. More on GoodNotes later, but for now, back to wrapping up what is left of this year’s lasts.