Thursday, January 24, 2013

Using iPads to Support Training Delivery

By Dean Hawkinson

Recently, I had the opportunity to design my first paperless classroom course, which used iPads to support its delivery. The purpose of using the iPads was to replace paper-based workbooks and job aids, and provide learners with easy access to training resources. As a designer, it stretched me into areas of project management that I had never experienced before. In addition, some of the feedback that we received from instructors was that it stretched the instructor in many new directions as well.

In this post, I will make some suggestions based on the successes and challenges that go along with this method of delivering classroom-based training. Let’s start with what I have experienced as important requirements.

Important Requirements

From the experience that I had, there are several things we needed to include when developing instructor-led training for iPad delivery.

  • An interactive workbook for taking notes – We wrote a storyboard for what should be in the participant workbook, including places for participant note-taking. You can use tools such as Adobe InDesign and Adobe Acrobat to create direct links to online sites and places to take notes. Participants can then use Adobe Reader on the iPad to view the workbook which provides several options for viewing and sharing the document.
  • Create a way to save the document with notes – Adobe Acrobat allowed participants to save their document with the notes they entered. They either e-mailed it to their own e-mail addresses or moved it over to an app such as Evernote to e-mail, if their own e-mail is not available on the iPad.
  • Use new technologies to obtain documents – We placed documents such as the workbook and other job aids on an online server and used a free QR code generator to create a QR code. Placing the QR code on the PowerPoint in the classroom allows participants to use the iPad camera and code scanner app to scan the QR code and obtain the documents.


Below are some of the successes we observed that can go along with using iPads for training delivery.

  • Saving on printing costs and logistics – Using the iPads for delivery cut printing costs and the logistics of printing.
  • Taking advantage of linking directly to the internet for research – Using the iPads for delivery allowed us to write some great activities that involved researching on the internet and directly linking to websites right from the iPad workbook.
  • Using the technology for hands on activities – If you are training job-related skills that use the iPad, you can take advantage of some great hands-on activities to learn these skills. Instructors can even invest around $25 in a VGA cable to project the iPad in front of the class to demonstrate these skills.
  • Reducing the need to have PCs in the classrooms – Since trainers can travel with iPads, you can purchase a set of iPads for each instructor for which they will be responsible. There is therefore no need for PCs in the classroom.


Here are some of the challenges you may run into with using iPads for training.

  • Cost – A budget needs to be allocated to purchase the iPads for the classroom. Of course, if you are doing a lot of training, this cost will be offset by the savings in print material costs.
  • Logistics of ordering, provisioning and preparing iPads for class – Depending on what you are teaching, there is a lot of preparation that goes along with iPad delivery. The instructors need to take care of loading required apps and setting them up for use in the classroom. If the iPads are Wi-Fi only, they need to ensure that their classroom has Wi-Fi available and that there are no issues. If they are 3G or 4G, ensuring that the sim cards work can get a signal is important. Most of this functionality only has to be done once, however, in preparation for using them.
  • Traveling with the iPads – Traveling with the iPads can be a challenge, presenting issues with airport security and taking responsibility for them during travel. There are special cases available for purchase to travel with the iPads, which can help with this.

Feedback from Participants in Pilot Courses

Feedback from participants and instructors on this delivery approach, from my experience with a pilot course , was postive. Participants like being able to use Adobe Reader to take notes directly in an electronic workbook and e-mail it to their personal e-mail accounts. Instructors like not having to deal with paper workbooks. In both cases, the apps allow note-taking and highlighting just as they do in a paper workbook.

For instructors, they have to really pay attention to where the participants are in their workbook as they facilitate, even more than in a normal paper-based class. Designers can help with this by ensuring workbook page numbers are in the instructor guide and also on the PowerPoint slides.

Have you had experience with using iPads in instructor-led training? Feel free to share your experiences.


  1. Being able to use any technology in the delivery service means that you will be able to speed up the process and get things done quicker. This blog gave some really great points.

  2. What a fun project, Dean! Thanks for sharing these tips.

  3. In addition, some of the feedback aed that we received from instructors was that it stretched the instructor in many new directions as well.


Thank you for your comments.