When, Why & What 1:1 iPad? Part 2
So, it’s about the learning and it’s got to happen. It has to be understood and you need teachers, students and parents to see potential.
There was only one place to start, at the top, in the middle and at the bottom, oh that’s three. Seriously, I bought trial iPads for the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), key middle managers, teachers and iPads for students in our trial. This I believe has been crucial for success, understanding and trialling at all levels, miss one and you will have a problem. Parents are always going to be the most difficult level however and we are just ramping up to help parents to see the benefits in our second wave of hands on events.
Again, seriously, we were lucky, we didn’t have WiFi already. Yes, this has cost a little more in the short term since all trial iPads needed a 3G contract, but since only a top notch high density high speed network was going to cope with 1400 iPads, it wasn’t us with the problem, it is those schools who have WiFi but who will need to take that out to put in an advanced new system that will stall at this hurdle. Warning, there now follows a short technical interlude. WiFi need is WiFi need, right? Very wrong. Mobile technology, and iPads in particular, gain a large part of their benefit by continual web polling to update data and sync, etc. A laptop doesn’t do this in the main, and certainly not until you open it and use it for the hour or three where you will have power. The iPad goes all day, polling the network even when it is in your bag. We understood this and hence looked into WiFi early, but then immediately found that our core cabling, switching and fibre needed upgrading also. Central to this is the fact that where our eleven IT suites currently are, is irrelevant for iPads, since every area of the school becomes a potential high density computer rich area. Hence many months of intensive work later, we are proud to have a full Aruba network, as installed at Walt Disney Theme Parks Florida.
A key aspect of a 1:1 project is how, or why, or indeed what will you want to control for e-Safety, guidance or blocking access, etc? We finally decided upon a high granularity (ability to control to a detailed and refined degree) Aruba network, precisely because we do not want to blanket block and restrict usage. Beyond the basic filtering of the obvious, we are aiming to be quite relaxed and educate rather than block. However, if we need to block or lock down an individual student through the WiFi, we can. I can’t imagine having 1400 iPads at large knowing that if the students decide to be silly with them, there was nothing we could do!
OK, technical bit over, mostly. I’ll no doubt cover more of a technical nature in the future, since we now unfortunately know far too much about WiFi networks and perhaps someone may be interested!
Any computerised device is only as good as the software it runs and hence I had researched the key Apps that would need to be rolled out. Again, the iPad is a tool, and a tool needs to be sharp and efficient. Yes, there are free Apps, and there are some superb ones, but would you buy a top of the range robust cordless drill and then use drill bits that were given away for free in the bargain bucket, labelled fairly sharp drill bits? Some will, but I’m guessing in this case most wouldn’t. We know of schools where iPads have been given out with no Apps included, but we do believe that this is missing quite a large trick.
Apps were gifted from a school account to the individual iTunes accounts of each recipient iPad owner. Since everything was new, these were phased over several days so that each App had its moment in the limelight for exploration. These first Apps were basic productivity Apps, the aim being to facilitate all needs for normal tasks such as replacing a paper diary, meeting notes or paper based task lists.
One final note for now about Apps and the iPad. If you sit down to do some work, you get out the things you need and put them onto your desk. What you don’t do, is tidily put all of your tools into drawers in different rooms. So, on your homescreen or main desk, place the Apps that you use most often as the hub of your personal productivity. These should be available as individual icons, not locked away in folders. Neither do you want to have to swipe through multiple multiple screens to get to an App that you want to use. So, my main Apps are on page one, another screen of lesser Apps is on screen two, then all other Apps are nested in folders on screen three. Yes, there is also a fourth page where games appear, usually, but not exclusively frequented by my children.
Here is my current main screen as an example. I say current, since every now and then I tinker, if I find that I’m not using an App as much as I had thought I might.
To be continued...