Monday, May 6, 2013

Things to Consider if going 1:1 iPads....

There are so many things to consider before implementing a 1:1 iPad program in middle school. That may sound obvious, but the biggest issue is that until you are actually in the throes of a roll out, there are things that you don't know that you don't know and will have to address on the fly.

It's impossible to predict all of the future outcomes of anything and despite months of planning for what you think is every possible scenario, there is a very good chance that things will crop up that you had not anticipated. Here are some things that you have to decide ahead of time or prepare for in an environment in which students bring the devices home with them every day:

Lease vs. Buy: Will you be leasing the devices from Apple or purchasing them outright? If you purchase them outright, do they belong to the student permanently even if they leave the school at the end of the year?

Supervise or Not: In another blog post, I talked about the Supervision Profile and its ability to disable potentially distracting apps like iMessage. An important consideration when installing this profile is that it removes the ability of students to back up their iPad to their home computer. This may be preferred since students may plug in at home and sync all of their current games/data to their school device. If supervised, it's advisable to set up iCloud on the devices to have a much smoother restore if for any reason the student device malfunctions or breaks. Restoring an iCloud backup will put the students apps and information all back into folders and act as a clone. Our experience has been that doing a manual backup of the device in Apple Configurator and restoring that backup requires that students re-download all of their apps and recreate their folders from scratch.

Printing: Will you allow printing from the iPads or will you try to go paperless by having students share everything via e-mail or through Dropbox, Google Drive or other services? Will you set up kiosks for students to print? Will you allow unlimited printing?

Charging: You can tell students that they are responsible for bringing their iPad to school each day sufficiently charged to last the entire day, but there will be occasions in which some students forget to charge. Will you have charging stations available? How many and where will they be located?

Loss/Theft: AppleCare+ is a great service because kids tend to drop things but what happens if the iPad is lost or stolen? Will parents be responsible for replacing the device? What if they are unable to due to financial concerns? If the devices are leased, do you require that parents insure the device against loss/theft?

Loaners: If a device gets lost or broken, will you have a sufficient loaner pool to lend devices to students while their device is being repaired/replaced?

Games: Will you allow students to install games on the devices? Will they be allowed to play games during free time?

Apps: Will students be able to install apps or will all apps be installed via a Mobile Device Management System?

Cases/Keyboards: Do students need a keyboard case? Will the school provide the cases? If students are allowed to purchase their own case, will you require that they all purchase the same model for consistency of teacher troubleshooting and uniform appearance? What about a stylus? Who purchases those? 

Loss of Accessories: Are students responsible for replacing lost accessories: stylus, keyboard/iPad charging cables? 

Budgeting for Apps: How do teachers purchase apps to try out? What if they find an app that they would like to use in class? How do they go about getting the app installed on all student iPads? Are teachers limited in the number of apps they can purchase or have a set dollar amount per year?

Professional Development: This is probably the most critical element that will determine the success of an iPad program. Handing out iPads and saying "Here you go, integrate this into your classes" just won't cut it. An in-house support system should be in place to help teachers incorporate the devices into their classes in a way that enhances their curriculum introduces them to new ways in which they can use iPads in the learning environment. This time can also be used to train teachers to get the most out of using iPads with the current school-wide systems and services.

These are just some of the things to think about and plan before going 1:1. There will likely be others that are specific to your environment.