Our school is a Primary School – Preschool to Year 6. Our 1:1 program has focussed on achieving a 1:1 iPad program for Years K to 6.
As a small independent, parent owned school, with a population of about 300 children we don’t have any excess resources and our technology is managed by a teacher (who is now largely dedicated to enabling technology) and by an out of hours contractor who specialises in Windows environments.
The school has gradually moved through a series of evolutions from a lab model, to a mobile laptop model and now to a tablet (iPad) 1:1 model. None of these transitions have been easy, but each of the transitions have brought technology more actively into classrooms. In addition to mobile devices our classrooms are also equipped with interactive boards and access to Windows laptops as required.
You can read more about the history of our journey here:
Laying the foundations
There are many enablers required such as Internet and Wireless infrastructure, device management systems, iTunes and email account setup etc. The crucial things beyond the technical essentials are community buy in, teacher facilitation and developing purposeful pedagogy.
This link provides some thought around getting this process right:
In the scheme of things technical innovation is altering our opportunities as educators. A great model SAMR provides a really good way for educators to think about technologies and how they might fit into the classroom. The diagram, in the link below, provides a good overview of the SAMR model. Clearly the introduction of technology can be seen as being on a spectrum from enhancement to transformation. Indeed as we use iPads we can see that some apps will merely act as a substitute for existing tools, while others will augment, modify or redefine the teaching/learning opportunities. The beauty of such a model is that it works no matter what technological innovation occurs and that is really important in this fast changing landscape.
Overview of SAMR:
One of crucial building blocks that we have put in place is an extensive Professional Development program to target the integration of iPads into classroom programs.
We went external for this so that we could leverage experience. What we found was that some states adopted earlier than others so we were able to find a company that had a sound background in the delivery of professional development for teachers in schools that had already rolled out iPads. This program has involved a mentoring program with an expert working alongside teachers and tailoring a program to meet their needs and a number of workshops. While teachers were the clear target we also embedded some parent workshops as well. This process is ongoing. You can learn more about this approach to Professional Development here:
https://www.xcitelogic.com.au/services.html#4 (now Datacom)
Preparing the iPads
In our early roll out of iPads we didn’t have access to VPP (volume purchasing) or to Configurator. This meant that purchasing of apps and deployment of iPads on mass was expensive and labour intensive re setting up accounts. The introduction of Configurator and VPP has made the process simpler and cheaper. This solution isn’t necessarily the only solution. There are many viable options to roll out iPads. I know of some schools that are using various Mobile Device Management Systems such as Casper. Others have adopted BYOD programs which have mitigated the school’s costs and management issues.
Here you can learn about our experience with Configurator and VPP:
Using Configurator has made things simpler, but the process isn’t always smooth sailing. Here I outline a few of the difficulties that we experienced using Configurator:
Working with iPads
What apps to use seems to be a major preoccupation of educators starting out with iPads and really of course this is crucial. There is an almost endless array of apps and this can be daunting. The best advice that anyone has offered regarding this is that less is more. Students can be very effective with only a few apps. Kathy Schrock provides some excellent advice and information here regarding selection and evaluation of apps:
There are undoubtedly many specific apps which can be very useful either for information on a topic or to enable skill development and practice. It is, however, the more open ended apps that I really like and many of these can span different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. You can learn more about various apps and Bloom’s here:
Edshelf curates and reviews a great range of apps and is definitely worth exploring. Apps are all reviewed by users:
A Few Favourite Apps
The growing interaction between apps means that it is possible to create workflows. Workflows really open some sophisticated and powerful opportunities for students. This is an example of a workflow where students respond to a piece of literature.
A powerful delivery system which is available exclusively to iPad and other iOS devices is iTunes U. iTunes U is extremely easy for teachers to use and they can create resource rich courses for students.
Movement of content to and from the iPad can create challenges. Teachers really need to shift their thinking and embrace cloud based options like never before. Dropbox, Evernote, Google, iCloud, Edmodo are a few of the possibilities. It is also possible to move files locally using WebDAV.
Printing can also be achieved on networks. We use a software called FingerPrint.
Some great information around workflow and Cloud resources is available here
Dr Jenny Lane – Edith Cowan University also provides a great range of resources:
Another concern for educators wanting to implement iPad programs is the lack of really comprehensive studies regarding the educational benefits. There are some reports and other credible documentation starting to emerge:
Studies of iPad Use in Education http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2013/03/studies-of-ipad-use-in-education.html