Dec 28 2011
I was reading the very good weblog – the Innovative Scholar (note not sure about the title – seems a little superior to me) – however his article “Is the iPad the Correct Tool to Aid Learning in Education?” was thought provoking and also very practical. However what is most apparent is that the iPAD trials and implementations taking place are most often associated with the Primary classroom and younger students and so often the advice given regarding planning and implementation reflects this to a large extent. Not that this advice is poor but it has made me think through a number of areas that we are considering to decide whether an implementation with sixth form IB Diploma students of age 16-18 years may be quite different.
The following is an excellent list provided by the ‘innovative scholar’ – Steve Pearce showing areas that must be planned for for a successful implementation and whether we have approached it so far with our implementation :-
- Supportive, designed, and managed wireless infrastructure – Yes we have setup and installed
- Teacher continuous training and support – In planning – although not all teachers will be involved?
- Introduction of classroom IT Integrators/Innovators – This in process for the following year – but for this year will largely reliant on myself
- Parental workshops to support home use of technology and understanding the use of technology in the classroom – Organising at this moment in time
- Control, centralized and managed downloading of Apps by the school – See discussion below…
- IT pedagogy, how to use iPads to aid learning in the classroom (and at home) – As part of training program…
- A supportive and fully trained IT technical team – Fully supportive and trained in use of iPADs
- Data storage and data transfer – Dropbox, iCLOUD and Google Documents will all be integrated
- The correct Apps which will aid learning – Has been researched although note this is also discussed below
- The health and safety issues (how to look after and care for your iPad)- Part of training program in terms of home use, Find my IPADsoftware, and protection through covers…
The main areas where I am concerned is in the App Management and then the simple fact of availability of charging Device Management within the main area where 6th form students work – the Diploma Centre.
- App Management – is often suggested to be the toughest area and most advice is to to buy a system that syncs a large number of iPADs using one base iTUNES account and then lock down your iPADs using the iPAD configuration utility tool. The problem with this setup is that with the age group we are implementing with – we want students to take ownership, show creativity and iniative in the apps that they use so this would simply not work. So will as the Innovative Scholar suggests our implementation fall flat on its face as we manage an open policy in which we gift key applications to students and faculty but then leave the rest open and free for users to adapt to their own workflows and thoughts. It makes sense to me especially as the app market is so fluid so maybe an app we decide is excellent for students to use early on in the trial may easily be superseded later…
- Device Management – this is more troubling to me as at the moment if we do not need syncing tools that is fine – but what about the availability of some charging stations so that student iPADs that run out of powe (we know those students that will forget to charge theirs!) what are they going to do. There are expensive and versatile systems like the DS – Netsafe – IPC but if we are not using the syncing option would they be worth it? And to add to that they seem very heavy and what we really need is four or five stations around the building of maybe 5? There are many USB splitters that propose from one USB connection they can charge 4 iPADs but on further review are all shown not to work. More promising is the Griffen Multidock which can sync and charge 10 iPADs at once – and maybe the only option that I can find at this moment in time that is suitable. So this does really leave us with a problem in terms of simple, cheap and effective recharging options?
Anyway plenty more food for thought…