Best Practices for Deploying iPads in Schools

| August 29, 2012 | 14 Comments
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Flickr: Lexie Flickinger

By Matt Levinson

As schools get ready to deploy iPads this year, each one is scrambling to figure out how to develop an efficient and effective system that works. With no standardized system or uniform roadmap to follow, at the moment, it’s up to individual schools to reach out through their networks to find information about best practices and smooth, streamlined service.

Without professional development and a set plan in place, educators in individual classes might be stumped by how to set up iPads for different uses. But once a system is in place, educators will intuitively be able to move on with the business of guiding student learning.

To that end, here are some ideas about how to put a system in place for iPad use in classrooms:

  • Establish clearly written Frequently Asked Questions a sensible Responsible Use Policy and a white paper that explains the rationale behind the decision to move to iPads, but also be flexible and nimble with policy as iPads and the best uses for them continue to evolve.
  • Include the responsible use policy or acceptable use policy as a PDF in the iBooks app on the iPad so students and teachers can readily access.
  • Provide students with photos of proper care and post these photos around key areas of campus as reminders (with a short checklist on essential care).
  • Create short video tutorials on how to use different apps.
  • Develop a few surveys throughout the year to gather feedback to make mid-course corrections.
  • Take photos of classroom set up, with projectors and audio, and post these photos in every classroom, with a short cheat sheet of directions. Create a job in each classroom where students take ownership of the process of ensuring that all systems are working. This will minimize loss of instructional time spent on malfunctioning wiring or connectivity.
  • Share best practices and successes with short videos and student presentations with parents, and enlist students as ambassadors to teach adults how to use iPads. This can happen at a parent education event or another similar event.
  • Track paper and waste reduction. The shift to iPads makes the paperless classroom a possibility. Have each class monitor their use of paper and printing and set targets for each class, grade level and the entire school.
  • Track app usage to find out which apps are most used and most effective.
  • Have teachers share best practices at staff meetings. Those who take the lead can help their colleagues figure out how to use apps effectively to deepen student learning. These trainings can occur at staff meetings or in smaller groups at department meetings and should be a regular part of the learning cycle for teachers, who then teach their students.
Matt Levinson is the Head of the Upper Division at Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera, Calif. and the author of From Fear to Facebook: One School’s Journey.

 

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  • Mike

    Don’t forget about eBackpack! https://www.ebackpack.com It provides workflow for use of the iPads in the classroom.

  • Robin

    Thanks, Matt. These are great ideas. We have several carts that are shared in different buildings. I took our responsible use policy and care of iPads doc and put them in page protectors. Then I used a tie wrap to attach it to the cart. After reading your post, I think I might get some slim binders and attach those instead. As helpful instructions and tips are generated throughout the year, I’ll add them to the notebooks.

  • http://twitter.com/lizbdavis Liz Bleich Davis

    Do you have any resources for good surveys to assess the success of the iPad deployment? We just deployed about 90 oPads and your post reassured me that I am on the right track. I want to develop some surveys for students, parents and faculty.

    • http://twitter.com/MDLEV Matt Levinson

      Hi Liz – I’d start by tracking the types of help requests you are getting to see what the patterns are, especially early in the year. You can break these down by students and teachers and for teachers, within departments and divisions to see if the requests are specific to certain apps or more general usage questions and concerns. For students, getting them to think early about use at home, social vs. educational (though these two can sometimes blend together), organizational tools, keyboarding issues. For parents, you might want to think about asking or querying what type of home filtering system they use (if any), the spaces where kids engage with technology, supervision, screen time limits (this can be challenging to monitor, especially as more homework involves technology). Also, you might enlist a few students and teachers to help you design the survey – a working committee – this can help to ensure buy-in. The best surveys are often designed from within based on the specific needs of your community, and the kids are great resources to draw on. –Matt

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  • Caroline

    Great list of tips managing iPads in the classroom. I imagine transitioning textbooks to ebooks or iBooks will help students learn about what content sources are trust-worthy as well. We’ve released two iBooks packaging our content in student-friendly ways (http://pulitzercenter.org/blog/voices-haiti-ibook-itunes-ipad-ebook) – we’re curious to see how classrooms integrate iPads and eBooks this year. Does it mean that instead of large textbooks, we’ll use more shorter, specific eBooks? How can publishers meet teachers’ needs on the iPad?

  • scitfrostbite

    Kind of ironic that the blog entry doesn’t display correctly on the iPad! I had to switch to my laptop to see all of the blog and comments. Anyway, the entry mentions using tutorials about apps. Is it possible to screencast ipad apps in action like I do on the laptop with screencastomatic or quicktime?

    • http://twitter.com/cfruin carolyn fruin

      Have you tried educreations or explaineverything? You can then use the embed code to put them on your site.

    • Lisa Pospishil

      I use airserver software (cheap) on my Mac and windows to mirror iPad and then use your favorite screen capture. I know many that use screen cast o magic but personally love camtasia

      • Lisa

        Whoops dang autocorrect! Screencast o matic

  • James

    Integral to the deployment of iPads is a charge & sync device or cart. Managing a classroom set of iPads is a huge hassle without one. A cart simplifies the syncing and charging process while simultaneously securing your iPads from theft. A great resource is http://www.ipadcarts.com

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