Word Docs and iPads – It’s Getting Easier


10/2015 Information update posted here

Can I edit Word docs on my iPad? The answer, which used to be “No”,  is now “it’s getting easier.”  However, a tablet is not a desktop computer so, even if you have a keyboard added to your ipad, and the official Microsoft Word iPad app,  the user interface will not be the same as the desktop app.

There are 3 challenges to editing word docs on an iPad:

  • Getting the document into the iPad

  • Editing the document

  • Getting the edited document out of the iPad

Below are three apps that allow Word editing, arranged in order of least like the desktop Word to most like it.  Since you can not duplicate the functionality and user interface of Microsoft Word on an iPad, it is important to know which functions are most important to you. How you will be working: where are your documents coming from? Will you be creating them? Editing them for a second time? Do you need a little editing or comprehensive, track-changes-type editing? Do you need to share them after you edit them? Depending on your answers one of these will fill the bill better than the others.


QuickOffice is Google’s solution for those who want to edit Word docs. It allows you to either create a word document or open one that has been mailed to you.  A small editing set allows bold, italic, underline and fonts. Commenting is possible and there is a track changes option but no highlighting. The main issue is how to get the document out of your iPad. The only option is to save it in Google docs. This might make distribution to students easy but will make re-editing the document difficult.  Cost: Free

cloudonCloud On

CloudOn is an app that allows you open a mailed document or create one on your iPad. You save your documents to the cloud. CloudOn had the wisdom not to create yet another cloud. They allow you to use existing cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive,  This means that there is little problem getting documents in or off the iPad.  The editing functions available are much more robust than with QuickOffice. The ribbon menu has options for formatting, page layout, and references The Review.menu contains track changes.  Cost: Free

wordMicroSoft Word for Ipad

For those who must have Word functionality most like the desktop application, MicroSoft recently made available a Word app for iPad. The app by itself only allows you view word documents on your iPad. It must be used with a subscription to Office365 in order to create or edit documents. You save your documents both to the iPad and to the Office 365 cloud. They are therefore available online from any computer with an internet connection. While the word app probably has the functionality most like the desktop version of Word it’s not exactly the same.  For one thing, the document does not exist on your desktop computer unless you download it. The developers have tried to make good use of tactile editing when it makes sense so the user interface is a combination of desktop and app. Strangely, there is no print function.  App: free. Office365 subscription  $69.99 a year (personal subscription)


Explain Everything Anywhere

Video Playing in Explain Everything
Video Playing in Explain Everything

A professor was presenting a paper in a distant international city. Her accompanying PowerPoint had some videos embedded.  She didn’t want to carry her laptop with her.  Would her IPad do the job?

There are many cloud-based ways to store and show a presentation, AuthorStream, SlideShare,  Google Drive for example, that would be accessible on your IPad.  You should definitely have one of those for a backup. But for true independence it would be best to have the complete presentation, videos and all, downloaded to your Ipad.  No internet needed.  Not even any electricity needed if you power up the IPad before the presentation.

eeEnter ExplainEverything, the little app that does big things. It’s a white board on which you can Import or draw pictures.  And it will import a PowerPoint presentation flawlessly. To top it off, you can insert a video file from your camera roll, DropBox or Google Drive and that too is saved to your IPad inside ExplainEverything.  Now you have everything in one place on your IPad. The presentation options are easy to use, including the ability to easily write on a slide.

You can rest easy knowing your presentation is in your hand.

1 on 1 Feedback

What is the most powerful teaching tool there is? Probably one on one feedback about a student’s performance.  A new iPad video tool, Coach’s Eye, can help you do that.

Coach’s Eye, as the name suggests, was developed for critiquing a physical performance like swimming, track and tennis. It does that “swimmingly”… but it has the potential to give one on one feedback to any student performance:

  • Dance
  • Conducting
  • Theater performance
  • Student teaching
  • Nurse-patient interactions
  • Student presentations

It works like this: With your iPad you make a video of a student performance. You can then re-run the video while you do an audio commentary, stopping the film and commenting, drawing on the film. It’s your own Beli-strator.

The review of the video could be done in many ways:

  • By the student themselves
  • By the student first and then the teacher
  • By the student and teacher together
  • By the teacher alone and sharing the resulting video with a student

Each method would result in the kind of feedback that a student would hear and value. It’s a powerful tool that would not only engage students but result in real learning.

Here is a sample from the Coach’s Eye website:  swing

Notice that there is nothing professional about the video-taking. It’s all in the expertise of the commentator.

After watching that video I feel like I could take a swing and do better!

Right now, all the examples on the Coach’s Eye website are physical education.  But I can see that changing as teachers discover this tool and flood the pages with examples in many disciplines.  How could you use this in your discipline?