Great news for our Scotland readers! Your government is seriously considering a massive rollout of iPads across school districts. That’s the takeaway from a recent report by the BBC detailing the current pilots underway. More on that below.
It’s an analogue to iPad adoption across the rest of the world. Schools, districts, and even entire governments are considering a big move to deploy iPads and Chromebooks in the classroom. The buzz is unmistakable and there are already thousands of classrooms (and Edudemic readers) who have successfully deployed iPads.
Let’s pause to learn from their experiences and figure out the best way to roll out iPads in your classroom.
It’s time to take a step back and learn from what others have done. If you’re considering iPads (or really any device purchase), give your due diligence and take a look at the following cases. I went through each of these cases and tried to ascertain the biggest takeaways. Hope they help you in your journey to iPad implementation!
Take Your Time
Scotland is taking a delibarate approach to rolling out iPads and Chromebooks. While many classrooms already use the devices, the government is not in a rush to throw money at the idea. There are numerous pilots underway to see exactly what should happen when.
Seriously, Take A Couple Years
A major investment like this should be done at your own pace. Don’t let the hype make you feel forced to adopt iPads right now. They’re sexy, fun, and could have a big place in the classroom of the future. But most schools take a couple years to make a purchase decision (like this one in Hawaii) so don’t feel rushed. Instead, do pilot programs (see above) or BYOD to see how the iPad fits into your classroom. You may surprised at the results.
It’s Not Going To Be Cheap
900 students were given iPads last year as part of a massive deployment in Penzance. Students were thrilled but parents and taxpayers… not so much. The overwhelming response was about the premium price tag that iPads carry. There were also questions about the durability of the iPads / if they’d last an entire year, let alone multiple years.
You’ll Want To Beef Up Security (Online & Offline)
1,440 students in Hawaii are getting an iPad at the start of the upcoming school year. Take a look at the picture on the right to see what that many iPads looks like (so many boxes!). But the overwhelming takeaway from the purchase is not the price or the boxes… it’s the security concerns. An investment this large carries a lot of risk and pretty much everyone is figuring out the best way to secure the iPads. We’ve talked about the best ways to secure iPads in the classroom in the past.
Consider Alternative Funding Sources
You may not have to pony up 100% of the money needed for your iPad purchase. In fact, check out the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program (PDF) as a way to get some financial help in your potential deployment.
Be Able To Defend The Decision
There’s a lot of pressure on education budgets around the world. Parents, taxpayers, teachers, and many others decry the cost and return on the investment. Since the product is still relatively new, the jury will still be out for quite a few years. So if you’re either the one for or against an iPad deployment, be ready to defend your stance to just about everyone. How, you ask? By putting together a ‘top ten’ list of reasons you’ve seen iPads should or shouldn’t be in YOUR classroom. You’re going to need to do a lot of legwork. Hopefully this post will help you out.
Apps? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Apps!
John Spencer (big fan, hi John!) discusses how he’s rolling out various devices this coming school year. But he’s not going to load them up with apps ahead of time. Instead, he’ll be seeing what the demand is in terms of apps and making decisions based on that data. I love this idea and think it’s a great way to prevent cost overruns as well as having unnecessary apps that will simply be ignored or deleted.
It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Synced
Sure, iCloud may sound like the answer to all our iPad-syncing prayers. But it’s not quite there yet. You’ll need to know your way around wired and wireless syncing, securing information, locking down mobile Safari, and the hardware it’ll take to keep all the iPads on the same proverbial page.
Anticipate Your Hardware Needs
Will you be transporting a small number of iPads from classroom to classroom? Will you be letting students take them home? What about cases? Charging cables? There’s a big number of questions to consider and one of the biggest (in terms of cost) is hardware. Figure out if you want an iPad cart, a locked case, podiums, or some other solution. There’s a lot.
Learn From Others
You’ve done your homework. You’ve gotten iPads into your classroom. You’ve found some great uses and apps that are really resonating. Now what? My best advice is to tap into your Professional Learning Network, whether it’s online or offline, to figure out what others are doing. After all, the massive buzz about iPads in education has caused many people to adopt sooner than you (most likely). Monitor iPad chatter on Twitter, join this amazing LinkedIn group, add Edudemic to your RSS reader (shameless plug!) or just use your preferred method. Long story short, never stop learning new ways to use the iPad, a device still in its infancy when it comes to just about everything.
Don’t just sit back and casually read… share your tips with the world! If you enjoyed this article, know that it’s a living document that can be easily amended and improved. Just leave your tips down in the comments and I’ll include them in the article so everyone can learn. Thanks in advance!