Our district is not investigating going 1:1 iPads, but there was still a great read from MGuhlin.org. The blog post responded to 20 Questions that others had posed for implementing an iPad program. I have read many articles and blog posts, but this post has provided the greatest understanding of the needs for a successful program. Most suggestions apply to a BYOT environment, which is the direction of my district. The parts in bold are snippets from the 20 questions, the commentary around it is my own. I highly recommend the article in its entirety for people at all levels of implementing (teachers, administrators, IT, etc).
My favorite quote from the piece is:
“We’ve revised our Acceptable Use Policy and transitioned to a Responsible Use Agreement (RUA)“
This is a powerful statement to the students and all the stakeholders. Others have blogged about the power of trust and responsibility for using digital devices in the classroom. I have been known to let students use my own personal devices if they did not have one. I was less worried about them using it inappropriately or potential damage because they were returning my trust with responsibility. This would not work in all environments, but trust and excitement provide a better learning environment than fear and consequences.
If you use Apple Configurator you will still need a sync station (Macbook Pro or Mac Mini) for your cart. …Who loads the software and the updates? The classroom teacher does … We’ve also included an external hard drive to automatically backup the Macbook Pro so we don’t lose content (e.g. iPad apps).
Apple provides training and webinars for additional information about setting up and deploying the iOS devices. This might already be used at the elementary and high school levels since they already have a few iPad carts. The middle school is out of the iPad loop.
I will interact with apps on a BYOT basis, so I can recommend for students to purchase, but I will not have to do the Volume Purchasing. I think it is great that the district provides iTunes Gift Cards to purchase and explore potential apps. There needs to be a uniform way to evaluate the apps – I had seen the recommended rubric before. I liked the suggestion of AppList.me to share apps with colleagues and students. I would have to check out how it compares to Appsfire which is my current solution.
Training is a major consideration. There is a list from the blog showing what training they offered teachers. Another blog post What I wish I’d Done Before Deploying iPads – also talked about the need for training. Not overwhelming the teachers by providing copious amount of training and planning. Some of the learning needs to happen with the iPads actually in the classroom. However, there does need to be basic consistency across the school. The teachers need ways to present information to students and collect articles from students.
How the system had to be beefed up to handle all the devices: #1 and #2 our district has already successfully done (wireless access points in every classroom and a ISE to track users). The third solution is something that would be worth investigating: an in house server of OwnCloud to provide WebDav type storage which functions nicely with iOS (as mentioned/described in another blog post by same author). Another option “consider using iFiles ($3.99). It allows you to connect your photo stream, camera roll (videos and photos) to webdav, Dropbox, GoogleDocs and other cloud-based solutions” This could be a harder sell to parents, since they would have to pay for the apps for their students. I plan on purchasing this myself to play before I come to any conclusions.
“encourage them (the students) to use web-based email rather than setup the Mail app” This could be an information nightmare in a shared device environment – if students forgot to log and and had access to each others information. This is practical, just having them log in and out of web-based email on an as-needed basis. Our district has provided email addresses for students on the secondary level so they can register with Web 2.0 tools.
“We have also not allowed installation of Puffin Web browser since it can bypass content filtering in the District.” Is this true for all filters? This is important to consider. There needs to be a flash based solution to offer for students so they can access the variety of media rich content online. If Puffin is a loophole, there would need to be another solution like Rover.
Using the Conduit Mobile platform …able to create their own mobile app, which features the school district’s news, social media activity, photos, sports schedules and scores, videos, and bully reporting. … The app was built entirely in-house and required a minimal amount of staff time.
This would be worth looking into for the district to have their own app. The type of information that can easily be incorporated would be appealing to students and parents.
This post was more stream 0f thought than many – sorry – but I had so much reflecting that I wanted to do while the blog post was fresh in my memory. There were answers to questions I never considered asking, but there were an equal number of recommendations that our district has already implemented. This is a positive sign for a good future.