End of Year Thoughts

iPad in Apple case

iPad in Apple case

The end of the year has arrived. The grade 6’s have graduated and now go on to secondary school. They have had to hand back their iPads. I could feel their disappointment although they knew it was going to happen.

Collecting the iPads took some time and I noted which iPads had been upgraded to 4.2 iOs.  Getting back the chargers was harder than the iPads.  Some chargers were left at parent’s homes or grandparent’s homes where the children had had recent visits and stayed over.  Luckily all chargers were returned from the grade sixes leaving.

Theft

The second last weekend of the year we had a break in at school.  4 iPads were stolen and 2 macbooks, cables, connectors and chargers.  It seems like a setup job.  The iPads were taken from 3 different places and it was obvious someone knew where they were.  This was very disappointing for the students and teachers and makes you realise our trust in security needs to be updated and security tightened.  We have been a small school with very familiar community.  This is quickly changing and so we will also have to make changes in our trust of others.

Next year all cables plugs and power sockets will be labelled with the same number as the ipads. This is because this year we had 2 students who misplaced their chargers and borrowed others.  One cable is in a very poor state and responsibility for the damage has not been reported.  No chargers or and parts will be borrowed or lent next year. Students will have to realise if they lend their equipment they are responsible for it if damage or loss occurs.

Damage and Cases

Damage to the iPads during the year has been minimal.  We had three returned due to not recharging (very quick turn around of about 3 days)  Out of 28 iPads 3 had corners dinted and 2 had slight dints in the back casing.  I believe our cases we use are not sufficient to give them protection when dropped.  The students take the iPads out of the cases they are in as they are too bulky to handle when playing games or using on a lap. I believe we should also have skins on them to avoid damage from dropping even onto to table tops.  Some shock absorbtion would be good.  I like the Apple black cases with the angled ledge but wonder if they would give as good protection in the students’ bags as the larger covers we have purchased. We’ll be looking into this before we purchase more and could even trial some of the different cases if we can get cases at a good price.

Surveys

I thought it timely to give a survey before the grade 6’s left.  24 out of 25 students completed the online survey.  I also sent home  a survey for the parents.  Here is the first question and a couple of typical answers by students.

1. a.When I first got the iPad I thought…now I think….

b.Have you changed your opinion about the iPad from when you first got it?

c.If you were only allowed one device a netbook or an ipad which one would you have?

Student 1

A. I thought that it was so cool

B. No I haven’t changed my opinion of this brilliant technology

C. I would have an iPad because it gets on quickly and you can get on anything

Student 2

A.It would be awesome I couldn’t wait untill we got them out
B.no I haven’t they are pretty cool
C.I  probably would rather the iPad because it is a lot more mobile and is quicker to turn on and last longer.

Student 3

a.They are super slim I wonder how many games I can put on it

b. now….I thought they were a big toy but we can actually use them for school
c. iPad

Four students out of 24 said they would get a netbook in preference but declined to say why.

87.5% of students would use the ipad over the netbook to create a presentation with 12 .5% selecting the netbook.

50% of students said they use the iPad all the time for internet browsing, 33% used the iPad more than the netbook

8.3% indicated they use the netbook only for internet browsing and 8.3% used the netbook more than the iPad.

91.7% said the iPad was better because, it starts quicker, was easier to see the screen, easier to use and they indicated that they could create quicker. 8.3% said the netbook was better to use. 70.8% said they used the iPad more than the netbook.

The parent survey did not have as good a return rate (10/25) even though I had a gift voucher as a prize to draw from all who completed the survey.  As surveys were returned a raffle ticket was given and then on the last day drawn for the prize of a gift voucher.

These are just some questions that were on the parents survey

1. Do you think the iPad could enhance your child’s learning? yes 9/10 no 1/10

2.Do you believe using the iPad made your child more interested in learning?  yes 8/10  no 2/10

3. Did your child teach you something about using the iPad?  yes 9/10  no 1/10

4. Did your child like using the iPad?  yes 10/10

5. Do you have a suggestion?  5/10

3 supporting the program-

– a great way to enhance learning and kept him very interested

-if possible the iPad should be a permanent tool for their learning as they enjoy using it and get great benefit out of it

-it is such a wonderful opportunity for the children to be able to use the ipads, especially being able to bring them home.

2 stating concerns-

-time needed to be monitored when on the ipad. If left to his own accord would be on it day and night

-it is not suited to those children who are highly addicted to using it since receiving one to use, I have had behaviour problems when I told them to turn it off.

These concerns will be ones we will be talking about with the parents next year. We did state this year that parents are the boss of the equipment and that iPads and netbooks are only to be used in commonly shared rooms of the household.  However this will be given more attention next year so the parents know they have our support.  I found it interesting that until this survey we had not had any parents reporting they had any problems with the overuse of the iPads.  This feedback is great for our information evening next year.  I will be sending home a further suggestions note to parents for the information evening next year.

Apps and syncing

I am often asked, “We are getting 10 iPads what is the best way to sync the apps?”  This is a question I have thought about a lot.  If we had the Apple volume licencing it would be a lot cheaper as the apps would be half price. If the apps were purchased by the school and synced students could still purchase their own apps and add to the iPad they would just need to authenticate the school computer for syncing.  It is quicker for the students to sync their own but it takes longer to check they all have the required apps. It seems a waste of time and money to have to download all the apps every year.  Perhaps a basic set could be synced to the iPads each year and then others added on.  The hard part is that apps are being developed everyday and what was good yesterday now is obsolete.  Do we sync or do they?  Syncing 35 iPads could take some time and logistics.  One computer is to0 slow.  I wonder if a user for each iPad could be made across the network so any computer can be used to sync them to the same iTunes library account each time.  These accounts on the network would only be used for syncing iPads/iPods.

Self management of iPads is best for teachers as it allows them flexability to add apps as they like and to sync to their laptops with photos, mail etc. Each teacher could be given a budget for the apps and then use their own iTunes account or a school generic iTunes account for themselves.  class@school iTunes store accounts for teachers so they can be used in coming years to sync other iPads/iPOds.  If students and teachers use their own personal iTunes store accounts the apps are given away and can’t be used again if that person moves schools or class where there are no iPods/ipads in use. This is not in keeping with our schools policy for purchasing where the property remains the schools when staff or students leave. The iTunes store school accounts can be deauthorised from all computers and then reauthorised to another computer when needed. One iTunes library can have apps purchased from many iTunes store accounts. These iTunes store accounts just need to be authorised for the computer and can be authorised for up to 5 computers at one time. The iTunes library stores your apps, music movies etc on your computer the iTunes store account allows you to purchase from iTunes and add to the library. Each iPad or iPod can only sync to one iTunes library.

Next Year 2011

Next year we will have 2 grade 5/6’s so we have to purchase more net books and iPads to continue the research. I wanted to keep the same group with the iPads rather than starting over with a new group. So we have one teacher remaining, a new teacher joining the research project (already has an iPad for holiday learning) and about 22 grade 5 ‘s joining in next year. I was too busy to give out iPads to the new students coming into the project so we have collected all the iPads from the existing grade 5’s also.

Next year we will have another information evening for the parents and students before the iPads are sent home. The original students not new to the program will get their iPad back to save  time to sync them.

The new students will be given half the iTunes credit at a time and just half the apps list to purchase and then later a further installment for iTunes and the rest of the apps list. Most of last years grade 5 students sync their iPads to a computer at school as they had some difficulties at home due to bandwidth or time management issues or no internet at home.

I went through the apps list with the students to try and cut it down but we ended up with almost the same list and a few more to add. There were so many apps the students had used and wanted to have next year.

Reflections and hopes

So in the 15 weeks that we have used the iPads we have made progress from using the ipads for drill and kill apps to using creative apps where we can communicate and share our learning. We have only begun to use the iPads and next year should see greater scope of learning happening on the iPads. The students commented they would like to use them more for literacy in both reading and writing next year. I would like to see more collaborative learning happening and a global perspective being added.  I hope to have the use of dropbox as a standard way of sharing in the 5/6 team.

In 2011 all classes will have either iPods or iPads at Epsom PS.  I am hoping that this will allow for greater sharing of ideas and resources between the teachers rather than just a few having access. Professional development will be given as a whole school opportunity rather than small boutique  groups. I will be putting dates on the calendar from the start of the year and hope to include some Brekkie Bites sessions during the year.  I will be calling on the teachers to take turn at sharing what works at our Brekkie Bites. Also staff from other schools will be invited to join us at some of our professional development meetings. The use of blogs, wikis and twitter will also enhance our personal learning networks next year as they have this year.

Thanks for checking out how we are going this year with our iPad project.  I will continue to add to the blog next year.