Friday, March 22, 2013

Keyboard case? Stylus? Or just the iPad?

Another important consideration when rolling out a 1:1 is what exactly will students receive? Will students be responsible for purchasing their own case and stylus or will they be provided to them? Should you standardize on the case? Should you require a keyboard case? What about inequities when a student cannot afford a keyboard case or any case at all?

These questions are best discussed and solved long before the iPads are to be distributed. In our Pilot Program, we tested out several cases with keyboards before deciding on the Targus Versavu case. It was a dead heat between that case and one other but the Targus case had better corner protection and the build quality just felt good. We have had no occasion on which we've had to contact Targus for support on bum keyboards. That was a nice bonus.

We provided the case and a stylus to each student when they received their iPad. We went with an inexpensive stylus initially and they seem to have worked out very well. Very few students have misplaced them and we had some on hand for replacements. The keyboards have held up pretty well. We've had some issues with missing keys but were fortunate (?) to have one student render his keyboard useless after spilling a drink into it so we just popped the keys off the broken one and used those. Thankfully, we didn't have any repeat keys missing.

Many students have said that they find the case heavy and bulky but this was the lightest keyboard case we tested. Teacher feedback-- especially English-- indicates that having a "real keyboard" is a must. Screen typing is cumbersome and slow when writing in class.

We toyed with the idea of asking students to purchase their own keyboard cases since they might prefer a different model; however, for the sake of uniformity in appearance, we decided to provide them. We also provided the teachers with the same model so they could familiarize themselves with its use and would more readily be able to troubleshoot problems on the spot instead of having to find a techie to come and help them.

We are toying with the idea of switching to another brand next year if the iPad adoption plan goes through. We'll see....

Twitter: @iPadEdTech

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Students and the Honorable Use Policy

When we were beginning our Grade 6 iPad Pilot, we knew we had to compose an Acceptable Use Policy for students so they would know exactly what was expected of them. We viewed giving the students iPads as  such a fun thing and they were so incredibly excited about the Pilot that we didn't feel right giving them the device and then a whole bunch of "Don't you dare do this...." type rules.

We wanted something that was as friendly as the iPad. We didn't want the kids to take the devices and then worry about what they were not allowed to do. Some policies sound very unfriendly and that's the last thing we wanted.

So we created what we called an Honorable Use Policy and took everything that would be in an AUP and worded it in a positive way. Instead of saying, "I won't do X" we said "I will do Y." For example. "I will be a good digital citizen in school and not use my iPad for games until I get home." instead of "You will not play games in school on your iPad." Reading it sounds a lot softer and puts a positive spin on a very important set of rules.

Twitter: @iPadEdTech

AppleCare+ for the win!

It used to be that you could purchase AppleCare for your Mac devices in the event something went wrong. This was crucial back in the days before removable hard drives (iBook and iBook G4 anyone?). If you failed to purchase this extended coverage and something went wrong with your Mac, you were in deep trouble. With Macs costing a lot more than PCs, getting your Apple fixed was sometimes a pain in the wallet!

Fast forward to today, we have removable hard drives in most Macs now so if you are a fix it type, you can likely replace the drive yourself and save a lot of time. Or the RAM. Logic board and video issues still require a trip to Apple repair but at least it's covered.

But what about iPads? There are no user serviceable parts inside so the biggest issue one has to worry about with the device is if the screen gets broken. But wait, that's not covered under AppleCare....

Enter Applecare+

AppleCare+ is a recent entry into the world of extended coverage of your iPad. For a $49. deductible, the plan covers the device in the usual way, but adds coverage for two drop events over the course of two years. That means if you drop your iPad and smash the screen, you are not out the cost of the device. For about $50 bucks, you will get a replacement.

It's important to back up your data before sending it in though because any time we've had to send in a broken device, we've received a replacement. If you can't back up the data, hopefully the user had iCloud setup or was able to sync (if unsupervised).

Turnaround time was pretty good (about a week) but if you are dealing with a grade of students, it's a good idea to have some iPads (2nd gen or better) on hand to act as loaners until the replacement device arrives. You can restore a backup to the loaner and once the new one comes in, back up the loaner and pull that backup onto the new iPad.

Twitter: @iPadEdTech

How Do You Distribute Student iPads in a 1:1?

There are many different ways of handling the distribution of devices to students. Do they receive them at Orientation? Do you give them a week or two to get into the swing of things? What exactly do the students receive?

At our school, we held an iPad Night in early October. This parent-only event consisted of a 45 minute presentation detailing the Pilot, what our hopes were, how excited everyone was to give this a try and a teacher described how he would be using the devices from day one in his history classes.

The parents then viewed a PowerPoint presentation that contained instructions on setting up an Apple ID for their child and how to enroll the device in the school's Mobile Device Management system. This was followed by a brief question and answer session.

After the presentation, the families moved into our cafeteria and were seated at tables by homeroom. Each place setting contained a school logo shopping bag that contained the iPad, a Bluetooth keyboard case, a stylus, a copy of the instructional PowerPoint presentation they viewed earlier, a copy of the Honorable Use Policy, and a copy of the parent agreement. The parents read over and signed the two documents and headed home with the bag.

We received a lot of compliments on the structure of the evening and plan to repeat the process if the Pilot is successful and we adopt a 1:1 program.

Twitter: @iPadEdTech

iPad 1:1. What about Storage?

If you are testing out iPads in a 1:1 or if you've already gone full boar and adopted iPads in Middle School, how do you handle storage of the devices during times that students will be leaving their backpacks unattended?

If students keep their backpacks with them throughout the day, they are likely being tossed around and the potential for damage is always present, but there are times like during lunch and gym that backpacks are either left in lockers or designated areas.

Some schools may use a cart structure in which students drop off their devices before lunch and gym to keep them safe and avoid theft or damage. Others may insist that the devices are put into lockers during these times of the day. What does your school do?

Twitter: @iPadEdTech

To Supervise or Not to Supervise.....

Deploying a fleet of iPads in a 1:1 environment? Are you planning to use Apple Configurator? Will you Supervise the devices? So many questions....

If you decide to Supervise the devices, bear in mind that students will not be able to plug their iPad into their computer and back up their data at home. Backups can only be performed on the actual machine that supervised the device.

This could be problematic. If you are unable to back up the devices on a regular basis and an iPad gets lost or broken to the point that a backup is not possible, data loss can occur. A good safety net is to have students set up iCloud. Not only will this ensure that their data is backed up, but if you must replace their device, when you restore from iCloud, all apps will automatically download and placed into the folders they were in previously. It will be as if you have simply cloned the device. A restore via Apple Configurator will not put everything back where it was: students will have to re-download all apps and recreate their folders.

If you are not using a Mobile Device Management system like Lightspeed or Meraki in tandem with the Configurator and want to use Exchange ActiveSync for email, you will either have to manually enter the student's information, or provide them instruction on setting up their own email. Some MDM solutions like Lightspeed will push out the settings and once the student enrolls their device will be prompted for their email password and setup will occur automatically.

Oddly enough, if you look in the Exchange ActiveSync pane of Configurator, the information presented there implies that you can indeed have the iPad prompt for credentials. You are told that if you want the device to prompt for username and password to leave the domain and username fields blank; however, if you do that, you will be warned that if the devices are Supervised, these fields cannot be left blank. So I suppose it does work, but only if the device is unsupervised.

Supervising the devices enables features that you will not be able to control if not Supervised. For example, if you'd like to disable iMessage, FaceTime, Siri's Profanity Filter, Game Center the Bookstore or just erotica from the bookstore, you will need to Supervise the iPads to enforce these restrictions.

There is a pretty good selection of settings that you an implement with the Configurator but to me it works best if used alongside an MDM.

Twitter: @iPadEdTech