How does one deploy iPads in their school?
The answer…it depends.
The reason iPads are so well liked by teachers is because of their simplicity and because of their apps. In order to make the iPad useful in the classroom you need to be able to control both of these things across many devices. You will need to look at who you have on staff that can maintain these devices and what kind of budget do you have for apps (discussed in detail later)? More importantly, and more to the point of this post, how do you pick the model that works best so that the iPads are being used and teachers/students are not overwhelmed?
Here are several models to consider when you look at getting iPads for your school. Note: No matter the model you pick, there will have to be training and professional development to make sure that the iPads work well for the teachers and students consistently.
- Classroom Cart
- 1-to-1 School Owned iPads
- 1-to-1 Student Owned iPads
- Teacher “only” iPads
The Classroom Cart
If you have a smaller school (most elementary schools of 300 or less) then this is a great option! The classroom cart offers several key components that I think are appealing to any one getting into iPads for education. The cart is reasonably sized. The image above is of the Bretford Sync cart. Not only does it charge the iPads but you can sync them so that they display exactly the same thing and they have exactly the same apps.
The cart does require the use of a mac of some type to work. In my experience a simple mac book or mac book air works great. The cart comes with slots for 30 ipads which make it ideal for classroom deployment. The cart is now designed so that you can have either 30-pin connectors (for older Apple Devices) or lightning connectors (for the newer apple devices).
If a cart is more then you need Bretford also has “tray style” syncing that is good for up to 10 or so iPads.
The 1-to-1 Solution
Many schools talk about how the 1-to-1 solution is the best, and in most regards they are right! The students get to spend the most time with the device, thus becoming familiar. You don’t have to get a cart out and you save time having to put away and lock up devices. If they are student devices (personal 1-to-1) then you have lower maintenance fees and costs.
However, there are some major disadvantages as well. Here is a list of disadvantages:
- Forgetful students may mean you have to scrap a lesson because they didn’t bring their iPad or forgot to charge it.
- Some students/families may not be able to afford iPads and apps.
- Unless you buy and install apps on their devices, they may not have the apps you want.
- Their is little power to monitor them if they are on a personal device.
- If it is a school 1-to-1 situation you have heavy maintenance cost and will need a yearly subscription to some cloud management software as well as a well trained person(s) to handle the management. (This can seriously be a full time job).
- The students are responsible for the devices and locking them up which means that inevitably you will deal with theft and safety.
- Their is also the issue of them taking the devices into the school bathrooms (I know this seems like a weird one but it is an issue many schools have had to address).
Now, I think that the disadvantages though prevalent do not necessarily out weigh the advantages. Students are growing up with this technology and are exposed to it at earlier and earlier stages in their cognitive development. Therefore, we need to, as teachers support this technology and teach them to use it and take care of it. The 1-to-1 solution is great for this. Here are some advantages.
- When everyone has the iPad and the same apps you have a powerful learning environment.
- Avenues for creativity (art, music, science, research…etc.) are greatly impacted by this resource/tool.
- Sharing information with the world and becoming responsible digital citizens is encouraged.
- We can better teach students to become better digital contributors instead of digital consumers when they are working with their own device.
- There is greater time for them to explore apps and other useful tools on their own. Many great ideas often times come from students in this model, thus enhancing the collaboration among students and teachers.
This is the most costly of the models and requires the most maintenance, but many will argue it is the most beneficial for the students in the long run!
Teacher iPad Model
This is the model that I recommend for all schools that are looking at iPads with limited funds! In this model the administration buys only iPads for the teachers. NOW, this model will NOT work if you do not have a method by which the teacher can “mirror” so to speak, their iPad screen onto a white board, smart board, or screen. The purpose of this model is so that teachers can interact with students using this great technology, while at the same time taking advantage of all the apps that are available for apple devices.
From a high school approach this can be great for annotating text while walking around the classroom, using a 3D skeleton app for science or showing geographical locations in social studies and geography (and much more…).
While at the elementary school level there are plenty of apps that allow students to come up and write in cursive, play word games to practice spelling words, math apps for class activities and other great interactive applications. You could also work the iPad into a centers approach to classroom teaching by having a station where they use an app in a small group setting to help facilitate the classroom activity.
To learn more abour mirroring the iPad please see “Part 3 – iPads and AirPlay“