This is one of my students using an iPad for the first time last September. As you can see, the devices were fresh out of the box. I have come a long way in a year. Why not read this blog and avoid some of the mistakes I experienced or narrowly avoided?
Magic Windows, Magic Carpets and my iPad deployment
My students were delighted to have their own iPads to use for the entire school year. I was excited too, but I soon found that I had signed up for a much larger project than I had first realized. Steve Jobs said that iPad is a magic window where nothing comes between you and what you love. In the classroom it felt more like a magic carpet and each child was on their own wild ride through apps, the Internet and the OS. There is a lot to consider when deploying iPad whether you are thinking of going 1:1 or 1 per school.
Three things to consider when purchasing iPad in TVDSB
Many teachers and administrators in Thames Valley District School Board are moving toward iPad for learning. Clearly, I think this is the best choice at this time. However, there are some things to consider.
Here are the top 3 things to consider when purchasing iPad in TVDSB.
1) iPads are designed as single user devices.
There is no login and log out of the device. In TVDSB there will soon be login and logout of Internet, but this really only applies to getting on to wifi and has *nothing* to do with the student work. No work is saved to the S: drive. All work is mingled together. Imagine giving a group of students from different classes the same duotang to gather their work. There are significant challenges to consider and problem solve around when you plan on sharing the devices.
2) Workflow and data: (relating to #1): iPads are like Vegas: “What happens on the iPad, stays on the iPad.”
You must think about workflow and how things are going to get off the device. Here are two examples of workflow, but in both cases, the author/blogger largely assumes a 1:1 situation.
When you are not deploying 1:1 (as is the case in most TVDSB settings), a teacher or student will likely need to connect the iPad to a computer and export via USB cable the same way you would do with a digital camera (most products from creation based apps can be shared to camera roll). This means teachers would likely need to have a system to use computers in class or you would need to book a lab. **AND** once artifacts of learning are off the iPad, where to next? Kidblog, GAFE? Workflow will make or break any iPad implementation. Plus, if teachers are not having problems with workflow, I question how deeply the devices are being used for creation. I suspect that where people don’t struggle with workflow, the devices are largely being used for consumption.
3) Apps: downloading and purchasing headaches ahead.
I think it’s best to think about what you want to do or what problem of practice you hope to solve. For me, I was interested in ePortofolios, so iPad was a good fit. It’s important to think about what you want to achieve or problem you want to solve and assess if iPad is the best fit. Then, selecting apps is easy! I select apps that help my students develop and capture their growth and learning because I am interested in making thinking visible, visible listening, pedagogical documentation. What is your team interested in? I suggest that people start there, and I think this will lead to more successful implementation.
Avoid downloading a million free low level apps. This is the same thing as photocopying word search and crosswords and it eats up instructional time. We all need filler from time to time, but an iPad is not a filler. It’s magic carpet that can take you to places you have never been before. Stop downloading terrible free apps that are loaded with advertisements. It makes me crazy, it’s up there with clubbing baby seals. There have been many, many iPad devices in TVDSB that got filled within the first week of deployment with several free apps. Then, the 16G device is full and it’s hard to do much in the way of creation.
Finally, it’s also important to know that TVDSB does not have an agreed upon system for deploying iPad and managing applications at this time. Management is tricky and takes time. I use Meraki to manage and deploy my devices. I have also written other blog posts on this aspect here and here on the topic of managing devices and iPad deployment.
This advice might sound scary. But don’t worry, the consequences of *not* moving forward with these tools is far greater than the challenges and consequences of getting iPad devices.