My Dell laptop died and I had iTunes set up on it. I can't figure out how to sync my iPod shuffle since I used to plug it into the Dell USB port and now I have no idea how to perform the same function with my iPad. Please help a newbie understand. Thanks.
If you mean you want to connect the iPod shuffle to the iPad to sync it, I'm afraid you can't.You can only sync iDevices with iTunes, not with each other.
Unfortunately, in order to sync either of your devices (iPod or iPad), you will have to get/use another computer in order to use iTunes.
You may be able to pull the hard drive out of the laptop and put it either into another laptop and install all the drivers for your new hardware then run iTunes as normal, or put it into a 2-1/2" enclosure and connect it to a computer's USB port to copy your iTunes library over. You can install iTunes and set it up to sync with your iPad and iPod then import all your music, books etc to iTunes and again you are ready to sync