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