1. Before buying iPads…

Updated: December 17, 2012 at 12:37pm

Is your school thinking about buying iPads for use in classrooms?  If so, there are some things that should be considered before you commit to the purchase.

Infrastructure

  • If the iPads are going to be used to access the internet, is there sufficient wireless access in your school to make this possible
  • Management, control, downloading, installing and syncing of apps and updates can be time consuming. Who will be allowed/responsible to install apps on the devices? (Since the iTunes account will likely be tied to the school financial accounts, it’s probably advisable to have app purchases and installations centrally managed.)
  • Will you allow teachers or students to configure settings on the devices? Or will it also be centrally managed?
  • Will you allow students or teachers to take the devices home?
  • What Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) will you have on mobile devices?
  • Will you allow other personal mobile devices to be used in the school?  Will you have a policy that addressed Bring-Your-Own-Technology/Device (BYOT/BYOD) protocols?
  • Will Flash incapability hinder any present network considerations?
  • What is the refresh cycle on the devices? What’s the life expectancy of the devices and how will they be replaced when lost, stolen, broken or worn out?
  • What mobile cart solution will you have? Where will it be stored? How will the resource be managed and shared within the school?
  • Will teachers want to mirror (project) iPad content to a screen via LCD projector?
      • If they do, an extra cable or two will be required.
      • If they want to do it wirelessly (able to walk around the classroom with the iPad while projecting from it) AppleTV will also be required
  • Have you included a cart(s) and MacBook computer to charge and sync the iPads. Other items you may want to include are:
      • cases/protectors (some schools have found Otterbox cases to be very good, though they are costly)
      • external keyboard (for some students)
      • stylus
  • iPads are attractive items. They are small and easily concealed.  What security measures will be used to protect the iPads?
  • iPads are not designed to be multi-user devices, as a result it’s not always easy to get files or work from the iPad to the printer, another person or another device. This fact can also contribute to issues of privacy. Are teachers aware of this limitation? (Sam Gliksman elaborates a bit in points #5 and #7 in this post.)

Academic

  • Why do you want to use iPads? How do the iPads support curriculum? What change will iPads bring to teachers practice?
  • Who will be responsible for delivering professional development? How will teachers be held accountable to using the devices?
  • Do existing educational technology programs and tools work on the iPad?
  • Are there planning/collaboration times to share best-practices in using mobile devices?
  • How will you assess the effectiveness of using the mobile devices?
  • Are there data and assessment tools built into the iOS to gather quality data of student achievement?
  • Is there a curriculum vision for the iPads? Does the use of iPads align with and support the school’s Continuous School Improvement (CSI) goals?
  • How will parents/community be involved if students are bringing the devices home?
  • Are there enough good educational apps available to support your curriculum?  Who will find and evaluate them?
  • Are there enough content creation tools to replace the traditional computer desktop/laptop/netbook?
  • How do you assess the educational value of purchasing iPads versus Total Cost of Ownership?

You might also read 10 Important Questions To Ask Before Using iPads in Class by MindShift which focuses on the academic questions related to iPad use.

The content of this page is based largely upon Considerations Before Deploying iPads and iPods from Socratech Seminars.  That post includes more detail, especially in the area of infrastructure. That detail wasn’t included here because HRSB’s Manager, School Technology would be better suited to assess infrastructure within our schools, however it does need to be part of the schools assessment process.

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