We have adopted a 1:1 iPad program for about a quarter of our students and have a central supply for use across other classes. Just rolling out the iPads hasn’t been the main game. Managing the iPads and truly integrating them is where the real endeavour lies. There is no question in my mind about the positive impact of this program. Both teachers and students are using iPads to create, explore, communicate, share and learn. They have embraced the possibilities.
Our iPad Program was launched through the generous contribution of our community following our Spell-a-thon fundraiser last year. Our first 45 iPads were purchased with the money raised. One of the great things about iPads is that compared to laptops and even small netbooks is their cost. They were a cheaper option and this created possibilities for volume.
Initially this first group of 45 iPads was delivered to two groups. We created a central bank for students and we also issued class teachers and some support teachers with iPads. Initially this felt weird because we had always prioritized students (we aren’t a wealthy school) and diverting valuable resources away from direct student use seemed unnatural.
Providing teachers with iPads was an enabler. The provision of iPads to teachers aimed at the broader goal of introducing a more extensive program in 2012 – where we planned to introduce an additional 100 iPads (realized in April 2012). We needed to make sure that our teachers were serious iPad users. We needed them to be experts. We needed them to embrace the possibilities. A small investment really in ensuring the success of a much bigger program.
As it stands now all teaching staff and some administrative staff are iPad equipped. They are linked through email, Dropbox, Evernote etc. Preparation for staff meetings, parent teacher meetings and all sorts of day to day matters are enhanced amongst the teachers using their iPads. They are expert or becoming experts. Of course the most crucial thing is that this expertise has been translated into the classrooms.
This development has been further supported by encouraging teachers to be active in recommending apps and sharing their experiences. We have also had some PD generously supplied by Apple. This PD focussed on pedagogy and the crucial ideas around creating workflow. Workflow is in my view where the real iPad possibilities start to emerge. The ability to integrate capacities of various apps is really exciting and takes the learning into new territories. Those who doubt the capability of the iPad to be a really productive and creative tool obviously haven’t really tried.
There are certainly other enablers required such as Internet and Wireless infrastructure, device management systems, iTunes and email account setup etc. The crucial things in my view are community buy in, teacher fascilitation and developing purposeful pedagogy.