Implementing a 1:1 iPad Scheme

Planning is always the key to implementing any new mobile device scheme into an educational establishment. Many questions need to be asked and solved in order for the scheme to be successful. Having already implemented a very successful 1:1 Macbook Pro laptop scheme, the ease of implementing a 1:1 iPad scheme is somewhat easier. Like most developments in education it is very important to have your staff (the teachers) on board and willing to adjust their pedagogy style to adapt to new uses of technology and learning in the classroom.

I have tried to include relevant areas to consider when implementing a 1:1 iPad scheme, however this list may change depending your school, the type of establishment and other educational considerations – (especially budgetary).

Areas to consider:

1. Wireless Network – ensure the relevant areas of the school have the correct wireless coverage and that iPads can easily connect to the internet. Ensure you can manage bandwidth by using a management based system (like Aurba), consider the policy management – does it need to be different to other mobile devices that connect to your network? Check that a large number of iPads can connect successfully at the same time to the network, if you already have a 1:1 laptop scheme this will probably cause no concern. Always have a trial time with a specific Year Group to test the system as well as allowing teachers to become accustomed to using the new technology.

2. iPad Device Management – consider how you will securely store and charge the iPads. My suggestion is to use something similar to the Bretford mobility cart as illustrated with the picture below. These carts are strong and well designed and can be easily moved from classroom to classroom if required. (Another good company for storing iPads is Datamation Systems Inc, their storage devices also provide syncing capabilities too). Ensure that some procedures and guidelines are put in place for taking and returning the iPads to the cart and that all teachers are aware and adhere to them. Also host a short training session for teachers on how to use the carts, what to do if an iPad is damaged, how to report the damage or problem, then create a small typed notice which can be put on the inside of the cart door, as a reminder.

3. The iPad – consider how you will protect the iPad, try to find a cover that can stay on all the time, but allows for charging and storage in the mobility cart. The cover needs to be strong enough to protect the iPad from the occasional small fall and all the knocks and bumps from continuous use in the classroom. Install Orbicule Undercover software, in case of loss or theft. (Recently my school managed to retrieve one of our learners 1:1 Macbook Pro’s that was stolen/lost at Heathrow Airport in the UK, within a week , the people who had stolen the laptop were arrested and the Macbook Pro was returned to the learner!). Consider how to identify each iPad, how will you number them? My suggestion is to engrave a unique number (think of a numbering scheme that fits with your establishment) on the back of the iPad, as stickers are easily removed, however, be aware that if you are using an iPad case that covers the engraving it may be difficult to see the number. Also, consider how your learners will use the iPad, will they use the same iPad all the time ( a 1:1 iPad scheme makes this easy) however, many schools will share the iPads amongst a few classes. How will you deal with settings on the iPad such as arrangement of apps, wallpaper images, etc, do you give admin rights to the teachers, learners or the technical department? Do you need to buy a set of Ear-buds? – my suggestion is that the learners buy their own ear-buds and keep them in school, possibly better for health reasons. Although it’s always good for a school to have a few spare pairs, or invest in some larger headphones.

4. Application Management – consider how you will purchase and distribute the apps, will you have one account or multiple accounts? My suggestion (for a school) is that you have one account for each of the age groups, for example in the British Educational system there would be one account for KS1, KS2, Ks3, Ks4 and KS5, this would enable the same apps to be used by the similar groups. As stated in point 3 above, do you allow teachers to install apps on the iPads and therefore block learners from installing apps? (this could be achieved through parental controls and or admin rights). In the USA, remember it is possible to use Apples volume purchasing plan, this gives a 50% discount to bulk purchases of apps. However, as yet the VPP is not available in Asia, although we are currently in discussions with Apple to introduce something similar for education. This is an informative article about syncing by parat solutions.

5. Content Management – consider how will learners/users login to and store their work on an iPad? Will they be able to email their work to another device, computer, laptop. Will they save their work in a cloud based application or both? If learners are given unique school email addresses, then these can be used by the students to move data. However, this is not always particularly practical when we are looking at learners aged 3 or 4 who may need an easier way to save/share their work. I like to use Dropbox for iPad, which allows students to share their content across multiple platforms. Consider also, how often to clear the contents of the iPads, possibly on a yearly basis, iPad storage memories can fill up pretty fast with media based content.

6. Pedagogy, Teaching Styles and Professional Development – introducing any mobile technology device into the classroom, will also require a change or shift in pedagogy. If you already have a 1:1 laptop scheme running in your school you will appreciate how much this changes the style of classroom teaching. Teaching needs to become much more student centered, inquiry based, project based and investigative. The use of ELP (Extended Learning Projects) or CBL (Challenge Based Learning) are great ways to allow students to use mobile devices for inquiry and investigative research as well as creativity using a variety of media for presentations and multimedia. Consider also how much professional development do you provide your teachers, is it internal PD or provided by an external company. I have always found internal professional development more valuable, where the trainer already has an understanding of the learning style and needs of the school. External training or bringing a trainer to the school also has some benefits by giving or providing training from a different view point. I am also keen to link classroom IT usage and pedagogy to teacher appraisal, at the end of the day there is no point employing (or continuing to employ) a teacher who is unwilling to adapt or develop their teaching style in an IT rich environment. The use of Professional Learning Networks (PLN’s) can be a very valuable aid in assisting educators with ideas of using IT (iPads) in the classroom, I would recommend Twitter for this.

7. The Possible Downsides – consider your classroom environment, is it conducive to learning and the use of iPads? Is there somewhere to store the mobile cart or a place where this can be accessible, for example some schools have the same Year Group classrooms on different floors, without an elevator how will you distribute your iPads? Do you have the correct lighting in the classroom, do you have blinds to adjust the light? Sometimes the glare on the iPad screen can make reading difficult. Invest in non-glare screen protectors to avoid this issue. Remember that Flash based applications cannot work on the iPad, there are still many learning games and other web based applications that require Flash, these will not run on the iPad. Just because you have an application on your laptop or desktop computer, doesn’t mean that it will also be available for the iPad, research and test applications well before using them with a class.

8. Costs and the Community – consider the costs of implementing the scheme, will the school purchase the iPads or lease the iPads. Will the learners take the iPads home or leave them at school. Should parents pay for the cost of the iPads, do they need credit facilities or assisting with the purchase. Should you include the cost of Apple care warranty? Does the 1:1 iPad scheme change with different age groups, for example – the younger year groups keep their iPads at school and this is funded by the school (through school fees) and the older year groups purchase outright their iPads and then take them home. Is there any benefit to learners of having both a 1:1 laptop scheme and a 1:1 iPad scheme? (probably not?), although this maybe dependent on age – for example, as learners get older they may need to use a laptop for specific applications. Always inform the community first of your plans, involve everyone in your planning stages, parents, teachers and the board of governors or local authorities.

There are a lot of other areas to consider that I have not mentioned here. This is partly because I have already covered them in my previous article about implementing a 1:1 laptop scheme (please read this to get some additional ideas). Also there is a lot of difference between schools which are government funded and how to plan for an iPad 1:1 scheme, especially when compared to private/independent/international schools.

Please comment with possible areas that I have forgotten or areas that you have found work well in your school or educational establishments.

Check out this document regarding 21 steps for successful 1:1 implementation – an excellent document!

Written by Steven David Pearce 24/03/2011 updated 10/10/2013

Benefits of a 1:1 Laptop Scheme

Recently, our school board asked me  – how can I provide evidence that having a 1:1 scheme benefits our learners and school. If any of you already have a 1:1 laptop scheme running in your school you will realize that this is quite a difficult question to answer.

Some of the benefits listed here are unique to my school (a private profit making international school), which has totally different funding, structure, mission and aims to a state owned school.  Although, our primary mission is to ensure that all our students receive the best possible education and learning environment, which is hopefully the aim of all schools.

Possible Benefits of a 1:1 laptop scheme:

1.     My (Number 1) key benefit is the access to a digital resource at any time 24/7. Learners can take their laptop home, on holiday, use at home when they are sick. For example we have had both students and teachers join lessons and meetings from home via Skype. The student connected to the teacher’s laptop and took part in the class discussions, was able to answer and ask questions from home. In our monthly staff meeting, a teacher who had a broken leg was able to join in the meeting in the same way. If a school has a VLE (virtual learning environment) students can access this learning area from anywhere at any time and complete assignments, answer questions, complete reflections and use pre-chosen teaching resources. The VLE can also be used to improve school communication, not only with students and teachers, but also with parents. Parents can access the VLE, look at their child’s work, add motivating comments, look at their report card and contact the teacher.

2.     The motivation of students, student centered learning, inquiry learning and interactive teaching.  Students want to use digital resources in the classroom; they enjoy the opportunity to have the freedom to carry out their own research, write their own assignments and to be creative using their own laptop. They can choose which application they want to use to complete their assignments, rather than using pen and paper. They can produce a presentation, record a movie, make an animation, record a speech, and design a poster. The key here is for the teacher to suggest a task, but allow the student to choose the application for completing the task (students define their own success criteria). For example if a learner has to create a presentation, they could choose to do it through Prezi.com, Key notes, PowerPoint, a movie, a radio speech, or an animation to name but a few examples. Many schools are also moving to each learner having their own Blog, this can be very motivating for the learner, when other people comment on the learners blog, they are encouraged to write more and develop their blog further.

3.     Differentiation for the student. Linked to the previous 2 benefits, learners can have access to differentiated resources and complete tasks at their own learning speed and level. For example if a VLE has been constructed properly, it should allow learners to select tasks and resources at their own level and ability. They can complete the tasks, which they feel capable of completing and at their own speed. They can refer back to their tasks at home and revisit the class information at anytime and anywhere. Allow the students to be creative, some learners will be motivated to create an essay written in Word, some would prefer to record the information in a movie or design a poster with Photoshop. As long as the learner covers the success criteria for the lesson, how they complete the task should be their own choice.

4.     Collaboration, the sharing of ideas and information. Collaboration and the sharing of ideas is the key to success of any organisation and a skill required by all our learners today. The use of Messenger, iChat, Skype, Twitter and Facebook all have a role in sharing and disseminating information. Our students already know how to use these applications and on a daily basis share a vast amount of information. Having a 1:1 laptop scheme enables the student to use these communication tools in the classroom. Some good examples of digital collaboration and sharing ideas include in a humanities lesson the ability to connect with another school on the other side of the world through Skype to share cultural ideals and beliefs. Collaboration in the classroom by using Prezi-Meeting, where learners can form a group and create online presentations, by sharing ideas and resources.

(Now for the non-learning benefits) Many of you may criticize me for mentioning these benefits, but they are factual and true.

5.     Marketing and school market differentiation, we are an Apple school and in our market we are seen as offering something that is unique, exciting and innovative compared to our competitors. Each learner from Year 6 through to Year 10 (grade 5 to 9) is part of the 1:1 Macbook Pro Laptop Scheme. The school uses this fact in its marketing, in local and international press and is a key factor to attracting learners to our school. We have had several students move from other local schools to our school because of the 1:1 Laptop scheme and the style of teaching that is linked to the scheme.

6.     No more Computer Labs. All our learners are required to purchase their own laptop, the school provides the wireless network structure for the laptops to connect to, but this cost in the long run is lower than paying for several computer labs in a school. The 1:1 laptops are covered by a 3-year warranty included in the package and fees that the learner has to pay for. The school provides a help desk and support to maintain the laptops, it also provides training for the teachers, all of this can be covered by the fee for the 1:1 laptop scheme, taking the capital and expense costs away from the school. I appreciate that this may not be so easy to achieve for a state run and funded school.

If your administrators, governors, directors are asking will a 1:1 scheme increase academic achievement, test results, exam passes, then maybe they are asking the wrong questions and have little understanding of our learners and the world today. It is hoped that by providing effective learning and the digital resources to aid learning that academic achievement and passing tests with naturally occur. However, tests and exam results are only one important part of the educational system and that other factors should be considered by providing a creative and stimulating environment where our students can learn the skills required to be life long learners.

written by Steven David Pearce 4/12/2010

VLE – Virtual Learning Environments

Virtual Learning Environments (link to original article)

In today’s society it is increasingly evident that education and in particular students are using more digital platforms and technologies as tools for learning. In order for educational systems to adapt to these differing learning styles and modern trends it is necessary for these systems to look at different teaching pedagogies. Over the past few years there has been a significant increase in the number of educational establishments who have taken on board a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in addition to the traditional learning environment to assist students with their learning and adopt a more modern teaching pedagogy.

A VLE works through the Internet, providing an online platform for education.  It provides a variety of tools with which both teachers and students can use for instruction and learning. Some of the key benefits of using a VLE include:

1.     Administration: Educators can track student engagement in learning; a VLE can monitor the learners’ progress, provide valuable feedback and group students into collaborative learning areas.

2.     Reflection and Discussion: Learners can develop collaborative peer learning areas by using forums, discussion boards and peer-to-peer critiques. Students have the ability to self evaluate and reflect on their own work and others, thus developing metacognitive or ‘learn to learn’ skills.

3.     Assessment:  Learners can self-mark and complete online quizzes, tests, educators can post online assignments for students to complete and, once completed, they can collate them through the VLE.

4.     Support: Learners are provided with links to specific web sites to assist with extension activities. Help forums and Wikis can be developed and are available to students at all times.

5.     Access: Learners are encouraged to access the VLE at anytime; 24 hours a day from any location, provided there is Internet access. This provides the opportunity for distance learning and enables the learners to take more control over their own learning.

Modern advances in technology have given the opportunity for educational establishments to facilitate VLEs and develop virtual personal learning areas through the use of e-portfolios.  This means greater learning for all students by providing better opportunities for personal learning and differentiation.

There is also evidence to suggest that combining both a virtual learning platform with current teaching pedagogies (such as Assessment For Learning techniques) develops cognitive learning in that the learner takes on a more active role in the acquisition of knowledge. A VLE provides opportunity for a greater level of student centered learning as it enables the learners to discover knowledge on their own and at their own pace. For example students can access “WebQuests” through a Virtual Learning Environment. A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web.  Educators can create the WebQuest tailored specifically for a particular group of learners and ensure that the content is secure and engaging. Once completed, learners can upload their assignment through the VLE for evaluation by the educator.

In a recent publication, the UK inspection agency said that “Virtual Learning Environments enhance learning, giving learners the opportunity to reinforce aspects of their work as well as the chance to catch up on missed material” (Virtual learning environments: an evaluation of their development in a sample of educational settings. OFSTED 2009). At Nexus, we are confident that our use of KnowledgeNET will provide an additional flexible learning resource that will help to enrich the curriculum for all age groups and improve the overall learning experience. Learners will be given the freedom to learn, when, where and how they choose, through active learning beyond the traditional classroom environment, including the involvement of parents and experts from the wider community.

written by Steven David Pearce 23/1/2010