Sunday, March 11, 2012

iPad Review

Over the summer our school received four donated iPads.  We decided to use them with staff and bought two more for teachers.  I was fortunate enough to have one of the first four to use.  I was so impressed with the speed of this device!  It is so intuitive and so many applications are available for education.

I started by using  GoDocs so I could access all my Google Docs.  I use a Google spreadsheet to track my computer inventory.  We also have a Google document with our emergency phone tree.  I loved being able to carry it with me and quickly bring up my spreadsheet instead of making notes when I was in classrooms and entering them in my spreadsheet later. 

I retrieved my email on my iPad too, but accessing my folders was a little more cumbersome and messages I sent from my iPad didn't show up in my sent mail on the server. 

I couldn't access files on my network drive.  I also had some issues with the wireless connection in our school.  The iPad would lose its wireless connection periodically and would sometimes stubbornly refuse to connect. 

I couldn't print.

I love the integrated nature of the iPad though.  It has a built in still and video camera.  It is so portable that you can carry it anywhere and it is instantly on and ready to use.

When our Media and Technology Committee met this fall, they voiced very strongly their desire to put the iPads in the hands of students instead of teachers.  I was inspired by the dedication of our teachers and chose to put the iPad I had been using into the group for students.  Since then I have repurposed an AlphaSmart cart to house the iPads and I found some low cost rubberized sleeves for them.  The next step will be reimaging the iPads and loading apps on them for students. 

The iPad is an expensive device, but I think its innovative design and intuitive interface make it a natural for education.  I can't wait to get it into the hands of our students!  We will have an iPad cart with 5 devices that teachers can check out and use in their classroom.  We don't have enough iPads to achieve 1:1, but I hope that we will still see some of the benefits associated with 1:1 programs.  I certainly think using the iPads will increase student involvement and engagement as Holcomb suggests in Results & Lessons Learned from 1:1 Laptop Initiatives.  As recommended by Bonifaz and Zucker I have given teachers access to the iPads before making them available to students.  The Media & Technology Committee is working with me to plan the logistics of the rollout. 

I am looking for ways to evaluate the cost and benefits of the initiative, any suggestions?

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