Uploading/attaching files to web using iPad
May 19, 2010 11:38 AM   Subscribe

How can our students submit files to webpages using iPads?

The university where I work requires that students upload their papers and exams to a website. Some students have started to ask about using iPads, but Safari doesn't allow you to access your files. That is, if you go to a site that has a "Browse..." button, on a desktop/laptop clicking on that button would open up a window for you to choose your files. On an iPad, it does nothing. I'm concerned a student might bring an iPad to an exam, type the whole thing in Pages, and then have no way to turn it in using the proper submission site.

Are there any apps that would allow this?

(I've also used a lot of job sites that require uploading resumes. This, too, seems impossible on the iPhone OS.)
posted by davextreme to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
They could email it in.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:39 AM on May 19, 2010

My understanding is that the iPad still requires a real computer for docking; it is most certainly not a real computer itself. Thus, the students should still have access to a real computer from which they can upload their work. If they're required to bring a laptop to an exam, you could make the point that smart phones, mp3 players, or glorified cross-breeds thereof are not a suitable replacement. It's the student's responsibility to have functioning devices, and to invest in devices which actually allow them to do their work.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:42 AM on May 19, 2010

My prior institution required all students to submit a test exam before exam week to verify that their machine was capable of doing so. Failure to do this would result in either 1) being required to use a loaner laptop, or 2) handwrite the exam if sufficient loaners were unavailable.

You could bet your bottom dollar that the people who didn't want to deal with those options completed their test exam.
posted by valkyryn at 11:54 AM on May 19, 2010

Or they could email docs to themselves, and use a school computer (or a friend's computer) to upload the document. There are ways the students can make it work, without additional work for the staff.

But if you need a laptop in class, then there are issues that others have addressed.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:55 AM on May 19, 2010

The iPhone OS, in its current incarnation, does not expose the whole filesystem to individual apps. So the Photos app can "see" photos, but Safari cannot (nor can it see any PDFs you've got, or whatever). It's not clear whether Apple will be addressing it in iPhoneOS 4, but I don't recall seeing anything about this.

Getting a file out of Pages on the iPad without using a desktop computer would require either e-mailing it or using iWork.com, and once it was on iWork.com, you'd still need to do something else with it.

An alternative would be to do it in Google Docs (or paste it in there once done in Pages).
posted by adamrice at 12:06 PM on May 19, 2010

They should be able to jailbreak their ipads and use a combination of apps from cydia to download/email files.

But, I'm sorry, I don't feel sorry for these kids at all- please tell me you are just being nice and helping them come up with ways to do this, as them saying "well I can't do this from my ipad" makes my brain hurt.
posted by TheBones at 12:20 PM on May 19, 2010

Everyone could get a free Dropbox account.
posted by sourwookie at 12:33 PM on May 19, 2010

We can tell them what the technology requirements are, yes. And if a student shows up with something that doesn't meet those requirements, we can hand them a pencil and some paper.

> Everyone could get a free Dropbox account.

And then do what? Does Dropbox's app have a built-in browser that can access its files?
posted by davextreme at 12:38 PM on May 19, 2010

(And yes, obviously a student could email it to a friend/himself and then submit it from another computer. We don't allow them to share resources during exams but this could be done under the supervision of a proctor. My preference would still to be to find a way for it to work or ban iPads for exam-taking.)
posted by davextreme at 12:51 PM on May 19, 2010

iWork for iPad: How to Email Pages, Numbers, and Keynote Documents

Perhaps you can work with IT set up a "dropbox"-style email account for people to send their work, which in turn automatically uploads to a web service, then you'll be set.

It would take a little scripting work, but it is certainly well within the realm of possibility, and some instructors may accept work directly via email, as well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:10 PM on May 19, 2010

Unless dropbox for the ipad is different than dropbox for the iphone, you can't upload from the device, only access dropbox files from the device. Speaking as a college instructor, I advise you to make it clear that the onus is on the students to get this to work. At this point, the ipad hasn't been out long enough that anyone could reasonably claim that they "type faster" or are "more comfortable" or whatever on the ipad as compared to a laptop. If they really want to use their ipads in an exam, instead of a laptop with a normal keyboard, then it's their responsibility to test it out. I'm somewhat jaded about college students these days, but if you make any attempts to help out on this at all, then you're partially responsible if it doesn't work out and they fail their exams, and it's always best to limit the amount they can complain. If they really want to type on the ipad, they could write an email -- email-to-website isn't very difficult (e.g. posterous.com) so something could likely be worked out.
posted by tractorfeed at 2:08 PM on May 19, 2010

Not going to work. Even if there were an app that could upload arbitrary files to a web form, apps are sandboxed from one another. There are ways to copy files between apps, but the creating app needs to support it, and Pages doesn't. There might be some way to make this work, but it isn't going to be simple enough for you to support.
posted by Good Brain at 10:00 AM on May 20, 2010

Have the site that provides them with this upload form present them with an alternative of some sort of key code and an email address they can turn the files into officially?
posted by floam at 4:50 PM on May 21, 2010

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