iPads at Schools – All the moving parts

Recently I facilitated a conversation about rolling out iPads with 25 tech directors and instructional technologists from Bay Area schools looking at beginning or expanding their iPad Programs. The full day workshop included both a discussion about all the moving parts of a 1:1 iPad program as well as contributions from the Apple Education team about resources available through Apple and information about Apple Configurator. Not least, the group had several hours in the afternoon to work on their own iPad programs with the guidance of some seasoned veterans, inlcuding Renee Ramig from Seven Hills School, Christopher Sokolov from San Domenico, Edward Chen from Nueva, and yours truly.

Everyone went home at the end of the day a few steps closer to articulating what their iPad program would look like and a promise for a follow up meeting four months or so down the road to shared lesson learned.

The tricky thing about integrating iPads in 2012 is that is still early in the game (though Hillbrook’s been in the game for the third year now). iPads were launched in the spring of 2010—Hillbrook picked up the torch that August as one of the world’s first 1:1′s—and no one anticipated how significant an impact they’d make in the world of education. They were designed for the individual consumer, not students or educational institutions. Originally they worked better for consuming content than creating it, and they are still battling that reputation in some circles. Since that spring, developers, and Apple for that matter, have been racing to develop better apps, better management systems, and better operating systems at lightning speed, but amazingly, for the first time perhaps, it’s not quite fast enough for schools.

As school’s look at the implementation and management (or lack thereof) of iPads, there are myriad questions to consider. Some are relevant to any 1:1 program at a school like Acceptable Use Policies and support, but other components of an iPad program are completely new like how to approach iTunes accounts. Some issues are the same but different—trying to manage iPads is significantly limited (because they were not designed for institutions) and training has shifted because of the easy accessibility of these devices (more time spent on app use than use of the device itself).

Click to view

I created the above Prezi and accompanying document to help nail down the different parts of an iPad rollout. It breaks the process into four phases and is designed to walk the tech director of school leader through the different considerations that need to be addressed along the way. A few highlights:

From Phase 1:

Why are you doing this anyway? If you can’t answer this question, you need to figure it out before you do anything else. Try to get it down to two sentences. Your leadership should also be able to articulate why. At some point, your teachers, and parents and students, should be able to explain it, too.

Is your leadership on board? Senior admin, board members, key parents? Who does it take to make a program fly? This is a show stopper if you don’t have the right people pushing this forward and supporting you as you have to make hard decisions. During this process, you will need buy in from lots of key folks, and you’ll need leadership to understand that.

From Phase 2:

Key decision here. Who owns the iTunes account? Decentralizing this (allow students to have their own) allows easier management with most MDMs and allow students to update and download apps without a bottleneck through you. BUT, more freedom, more trouble lurking. Teachers need to be on board and you need to decide what your policy in on device content. Get parent partnership on this. ALSO, students under 13 cannot officially have their own iTunes account, so you need to address that.

Type and Ratio
Are you traditional 1:1, 1:1 modified (keep in school), or some version of a shared program? Are you piloting shared and moving towards 1:1? Are you starting with a modified 1:1 with the goal to have students take them home? If so, make sure your configuration (and iTunes accounts) will allow this shift. Are your iPads in carts or in classrooms? Ease of access is important for a successful program and sometimes, even small obstacles that interfere with access cause a failed launch. Write down your plan now.

To see these documents in their entirety, click the links below. Please make sure to give credit where credit is due.

Nailing Down Your iPad Rollout Prezi and Google Doc.

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