Thursday, May 26, 2011

Reflections and Moving Forward with iPads

This year we had 9 iPads and 9 iPod Touches scattered throughout our district because of an Autism Grant (Read the past posts here). I think it was a very successful program and I'm excited to see it move forward next fall. I learned a whole lot about management of the devices that will be applied as we bring more of these devices into the district. We are currently gathering survey information from the staff involved. Many of the teachers have decided to go ahead and purchase devices so they can just have them to use them with a variety of students (all teachers have to re-apply in the fall and use must be tied to an autistic student, per grant rules). We are also going to be using them with Jump Start, a new summer program geared toward qualifying students starting kindergarten next fall. I'll try and get a blog post about that out later this fall.
We are also at a very exciting time in our elementary buildings. They are all getting brand new computers next year, thanks to our lease purchase cycle. They've put up with a lot the last few years with dying machines and no one wanting to pay much (understandably) to keep them up and running. One of the options for student computers at the elementary buildings was iPads. We have a building tech at each elementary, so our wonderful tech department paid for one iPad for each of them. Because of the timing of when they came in and our state conference, we asked them all to come down for a "mandatory meeting." None of them had any idea. Very fun :) What that means for the kids is all schools will at least have one iPad. Some of the iPads are going to be available for check out while others will be used as classroom computers. This was a building decision. We are going to have a summer workshop so that the devices can be used the first day kids come back. That summer workshop is voluntary and open to all of our K-6 staff. You can see a draft of the agenda here.The goal of the workshop is similar to training you do with any technology - give them training to use it effectively within their curriculum.
Another recent development is an iPad 1:1 pilot we are doing with our newly-created Leadership Academy. We have a 1:1 Hospital Academy, but with netbooks and off site (which creates whole new issues). The Leadership Academy students are going to also be participating in an online class using Moodle, so it's going to be interesting to gather feedback on their experiences. We will also have four iPads in two different AP classes at both high schools. At least at one high school will be giving them to a student full time for a quarter and gather before and after data. Those teachers will be putting their documents online as ePubs or PDFs for students to access.
A great resource for implementing and managing iOS devices is Lisa Pospishil at Norfolk Public Schools. Her iOS School website has tons of great ideas. We aren't deploying nearly as many as she has, but it's still a great place to start for tips and tricks.
I'm excited to see how this works. I agree with Dean Shareski - the iPad is different. And honestly, right now, I don't see a competitor for education. 


pdlindgren said...

Thanks for sharing. Keep up the great work.

J Allen said...

Thanks, Paul!