Category Archives: iPads
In the late 90′s to around 2001, the internet boom was on. Venture capitalists were experiencing meteoric rises in revenue and stock prices because the internet was taking off all over the world. It seemed that this new avenue of commerce was as close to a “can’t lose” scenario when it came to investment. Back then, companies were funded on the idea that “growth of profits” would rule the day in this new economy.
Well, I’m here to tell you, I see another bubble coming and this one is in the Ed Tech market. I don’t have any hard evidence to support this theory other than my own experiences in the last 2+ years. There’s a lot of money in the field, as Bill Gates spoke of during his SXSWedu keynote, so everyone is trying to rush to market in order to capitalize. However, some signs are pretty glaring that this market place is about to implode. Let’s look at three examples of Ed Tech fields to see if these trends mirror those of the late 90′s.
What was a blundering area of the tech market over the 90′s and first decade of the 2000′s has blown up all around us in education. Much of the reason for this can be singularly pointed to Apple’s launch of the iPad in 2010. For the first time, a consumer-centric device was useful enough and cost-effective for educational circles. Back then, there were really only a couple of choices on the market other than Apple’s iPad. The HP Touchpad with WebOS caught fire before quickly burning out in late 2011 and RIMs Playbook followed a similar trajectory and as of this year no longer exists. Little did we know this would just be the beginning.
Once the Android and Windows 8 operating systems caught hold, a whole new market of tablets hit the market place with furious demand. Nook, Kindle Fire, Samsung’s Galaxy, Microsoft Surface, Asus Transformer, and Google’s Nexus tablets now all hold some share of the consumer market but little break in educational circles to the iPad.
Enter the new world of the “educational tablet” with the LearnPad and Fox NewsCorp’s Amplify. These, and their consumer counterparts have all hit the market in the last 6-9 months and continue to increase at an exponential pace. Where the consumer models have some staying power over the long haul, the fickle purchasing of K-12 educational systems spells some rough roads ahead for those in this new educational tablet space.
The biggest reason? If we are focusing on authentic learning and digital wellness with our kids in the every day world, will that be able to happen on a tablet built to just be used K-12? Sure, tech directors get more control of the device and teachers can control the screens and learning from their desks, but isn’t that just a digital extension of the militarized structure of teaching we’ve had for hundreds of years? In the words of 2013 TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra, “We need schools…not factories”
Back in the early 2000′s when I was teaching first grade, my software choices were pretty simple. I could go with a read and repeat type of game like Reader Rabbit or focus on creation using a tool like Clarisworks. In order to get some highfalutin software like Adobe Photoshop, it would take several committees, an act of congress and the blessing of the Pope to purchase it and add it to my 3 computers in my class. This process usually took about 2-3 years and tech departments banked on teachers becoming frustrated and giving up or the software becoming obsolete before it was even installed.
Welcome to the wild west of apps in 2013. All the sudden, having 10 CD’s or 30 floppy disks aren’t required to install software. In fact, most software isn’t even loaded at all, it exists on the web. Apps aren’t seen as software, but they are in essence. Of course, with apps, it only requires a quick couple of taps and BLAM!! Instant installation and gratification. This consumerization of IT has a lot of benefits to personalized and customized learning, but there is a downside. When are these apps and web tools being vetting for educational value? Who is making the district purchasing decision now?
It seems that in the last year especially, app and web-based tools are praying on the “first one is free” approach to break into school districts. I like the idea of organically grown tools being brought up by the end-users, but wonder if there isn’t some sort of legal line that’s being crossed in all of this. I mean, we had 80 teachers using Edmodo with their Eanes email address when Edmodo finally called me to say “Hey, we noticed a lot of your teachers using our product, want to have your own domain with us?” While Edmodo is a great (and free) service, many other companies are following that lead and giving away “30-seat classroom licenses” for free in the hopes that enough users getting hooked will over-power the purchasers.
With over a million mobile apps on the market, how can our teachers hope to sort through all of that to find relevant, useful educational tools? Add in the new tablets hitting the market, along with the expansion of Google Apps for Education, and the market is ripe to burst.
Learning Management Systems
The race to build the perfect LMS has almost become so flooded its hard to make sense of it all. This market place was dominated by two choices about 5 years ago: the paid route of Blackboard or the free route of Moodle. While Blackboard was still focused on higher ed, it was the first to really jump in with both feet in the K-12 market. However,unlike the tablet market, just because it was in there first, doesn’t mean it will win out.
While there it’s hard to determine how many K-12-centric LMS companies are out there now. Findings from this June 2012 Education Week study show that there 163 commercial educational LMSs and 66 Open source LMS platforms. Those numbers alone are staggering, but when coupled with the fact that I have personally seen at least 6 start-up LMS-based companies since then, tells me this market is over-flooded.
This level of healthy competition can spawn some amazing advances in a fairly dull field, but there is a lot of risk for the administrator taking a gamble on a company that might not be around in a couple of years. I think a company that is device-agnostic, web-able, and inexpensive on a per-user basis has a firm ground to stand on in K-12 space. But in terms of staying power, it has to be transformative for teaching and learning, not just digital extensions of the classroom.
What does all this mean for us in the Ed Tech field? It’s obvious the iron is hot. As Gates said in his keynote, there is upwards of $9 Billion dollars available in this market place so someone is going to grab a large slice of that pie. The question for the users and purchasers of these devices and software packages is, will it have any level of sustainability? Does that even matter any more? Maybe instead of looking for stable-long term solutions, we need to start being more flexible and able to pivot when the situation calls for it.
Then again, we are in education and the reality is this growth is exciting but while the Ed Tech marketplace is exploding, we need to take the focus off the “what” and focus more on the “why” when it comes to anything we do. That’s the key to surviving any future bubble that might be coming our way.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some .cwk files that need converting…
After last year’s successful iPadpalooza, we learned a few things. One is, never plan a conference or event like that in less than two months. It was successful, but only because I had people like Carolyn Foote (@technolibrary) to help out when I was drowning in details. What started out as an idea and a website in January had turned into a major head-ache and full-time job by April.
I loved the event, but I had little left in the tank when it was over and was determined not to make the next year’s event anywhere near as stressful on myself or my team. You should enjoy these opportunities and cherish them when they happen but I could barely remember the actual day. How often do you get to create and take part in a major movement like this? You should come out feeling stronger, not exhausted. So, after learning lessons in little failures last year (a common theme of mine), I cleaned up my act and got started early. Here are some tips of things I’ve already done this year that will make iPadpalooza 2013 even more successful:
1. Delegate – As a man, I suffer from CAFD Syndrome (Can’t Ask For Directions). As someone in a leadership role, I suffer from a bloated ego (I am kind of a big deal) and think I can do everything myself. Combine those two traits and it’s a recipe for disaster and inefficiency. To make amends, this year I started “sub-committees” for iPadpalooza. While I still serve on pretty much all of the sub-committees, it’s been great to have someone else drive and organize a particular part of the event. Beside having help with minor details, it keeps you sane.
2. Give your self plenty of time - As I stated earlier, throwing everything together in two months was not ideal. This year we started planning in December (iPadpalooza is in June) and formed sub-committees before the winter break to start planning and organizing various parts of the event. While I’m sure crunch time will still happen in May, taking care of things like presenters, sponsors, registration, food, t-shirts, etc all before hand will not make it seem like a head-ache.
3. Invest in talent - You need a headliner to sell tickets but you also need familiar faces to drive interest. Last year we had about 80 people registered before I announced Tony Vincent as the keynote speaker. Within a week we had doubled registration and in three weeks we were sold out. Part of this was word of mouth, but a big part of it was promo-ing the heck out of who was going to be there presenting. Since iPadpalooza started as an idea for Eanes teachers, we made sure to have a couple of them listed on the official site as featured speakers. Something we liked doing so much, that these year, they will have their own feature section.
4. Do something different - In a world full of no original ideas this is hard. For me, I wanted this event to not be just another conference. Being located in Austin, Texas, it was required that we have live music, BBQ and t-shirts. We really wanted people to feel like it was a festival, much like ACL or SXSW here in Austin. This doesn’t happen overnight but there are little things you can do to make your event unique and make others feel special. This year, we are upping the ante. We are bringing in food trailers from around Austin and bringing in even more live music. (including a potential headliner band to close the show!) Whenever possible, capture some uniqueness of your community and let that “flavor” be a living part of your event.
5. Make it exclusive and buzz-worthy - Social media is great for driving buzz, but how do you do that when only 5 people follow your event’s twitter handle? Word of mouth is important, but only works if you have something to actually talk about. (see point #3) Reach out to contacts in other area districts and offer them access to the event for a discount if they bring a group. Put a cap on registration too. If 15 thousand people can come, they won’t. However, if only 500 can come, 1000 will want to get in. Once you have a core group of attendees, they will spread the buzz and share the love for you, but just know that takes time and individual communication, no sending out an email blast to all your contacts.
6. The price is right - If you make an event free or cheap, people won’t expect much which can work in your favor. The downside of that is you limit what you can do in some cases and who you can bring in. The flip-side of that is that if it’s too expensive, no one will be able to afford to come. Consider offering the first year of an event for cheaper than an average mini-Con. The average price of many 2-day mini-Conferences in the U.S. is around $250. If you take that as your benchmark, make it half that to start and build the budget and buzz for the next year when it’s a huge hit!
7. Details, details, details - I can’t mention it enough but the details will DROWN you and your team if you don’t stay on top of them. Who is in charge of designing and ordering the shirt? Who will reach out to vendors? What’s the cost and deadline of registration? Who will be speaking at the event and how do we come up with a schedule? These are all questions I fielded with about a month to go last year. This year, details have been delegated and are in motion. We have some deadlines set for certain things (food trailers contacted, t-shirts ordered, etc) that way it’ll go smoother closer to the event. The sooner you can get to these, the better your life will be on event day.
8. Volunteers are invaluable - The bigger the event, the more people you will need to help out. Again, thanks to Carolyn here. She took charge of this for me and really thoughtfully designed where volunteers should be placed throughout the day and what shifts they would run. Basic rule of thumb; for every 25 people, you’ll want a volunteer. You can try to do it with less, but in our case that meant 20 volunteers. They ran registration, gave out directions, manned the information booth and helped monitor room limits.
9. Know your venue backwards and forwards - If you are hosting a mini-Con offsite, tour the event location regularly. You’ll want every detail taken care of BEFORE you arrive at the crack of dawn on the day of the event. Parking, WiFi signage, booth set-ups, etc. - all should be set-up and tested the day before. Consider getting some walkie-talkies for the event day so that your team can communicate quickly when issues arise (and they will). We ran out of toilet paper in the women’s restroom by lunch time. Talk about a paperless conference! (rimshot…thank you, I’ll be here all week!)
10. Enjoy it - A midst all the chaos of the actual event, make a point of taking time with your team to soak it all in. Capture the moment in video or pictures to review later when it’s all over. This will feel very much like a reception on your wedding day. You’ll sort of remember showing up, seeing people, and watching stuff happen, but it will go by in a blur. Take 5 minutes to sit, breathe, and take in what you’ve just accomplished. You deserve it!
At the end of last school year I reflected on the 10 things NOT to do in an iPad 1:1 program. I was blown away with the amount of responses and views the post got from all over the world. It seems that it was at the right time, and right moment for districts out there planning on entering the Fall with a new 1:1 implementation. That said, it’s almost too late by that point to make real swift changes to your implementation.
I felt assured we had ferreted out all the little details that make things go astray during this process and hoped by providing a list of the 10 things, other districts could learn from our mistakes. Since that article, we have now collected the student iPads, re-distributed them, rented them out over the summer, distributed them to the rest of the high school, all the 8th graders, and now 2 grade levels at each elementary. Needless to say, we’ve learned a WHOLE lot more about both what to do and what NOT to do. Don’t get me wrong, the level of personal learning and shift in instructional focus, while slow at times, has been breath-taking to behold. I have no doubt in my mind that shift wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t take the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach to putting these out there. That said, here are 10 MORE things I wouldn’t do again if we had to do it all over:
1. Do NOT pick them all up on one day -
Talk about a nightmare scenario. Imagine trying to collect and assess 1800 iPads from high school students in just one day with limited staff? Talks with the high school administration and the technology department determined that this would be the way to go, and it didn’t seem like a bad idea at the time. Knock the whole thing out in one day and rip off the bandaid. The only problem was, this was happening a few days before final exams and kids weren’t exactly thrilled to give them up. We actually started our rental program (“rent” your iPad over the summer for $30) because of the feedback from staff and students. I was lucky enough to be in one of the rooms collecting the iPads. We had a gallon zip-lock bag where they would write their name and iPad number and then put their charger, case and iPad in there. Not only did we end up with about 4 or 5 missing chargers per class period, we had to assess each iPad in the class during a 52-minute class period. Talk about stressful! This year we are planning to work with students well in advance and over several days as well as discussing the possibility of letting all high school kids take them home over the summer.
2. Do NOT try and build the “Charge/Sync Stations” by yourself at the beginning of the year
For the elementary classrooms, we knew 1:1 would look different. They wouldn’t be going home with students and they wouldn’t need to be stored in those $2700 Bretford carts since they were going to be stationary. We decided to build our own “Charge/Sync Stations” modeled after those wood letter-sorters we used to have at elementary school. Build the shelving, attach a 32-port Charge/Sync device on top (we used this one), attach it to a wall and voila! Done. Only problem was, there were 55 of these we had to build, and it was the beginning of the year. In retrospect, it would have been better to outsource this to parents, volunteers, hourly workers, rather than tie up our tech department’s time at a crucial point in the year.
3. Do NOT fall in love with a certain app too quickly
We’ve all had an app so cool, so inspiring, we just had to share with everyone else how great it is. As with anything in the tech world, change happens quickly. With apps, it is even faster. Here’s an example: We were trying to select a comic strip app to put on our elementary iPads back in July. We had a pretty good process for rating apps, but the only problem was, the apps selected in July weren’t installed until the end of October. In the course of that time we discovered Strip Designer and decided it was superior to the other, more expensive app that we had purchased back in July. This will happen from time to time, so I encourage everyone to try out apps in small doses before buying 2000 of them.
4. Do NOT forget to communicate with everyone ALL the time.
While it’s certainly possible to over-communicate, we are much more guilty in education and administration of under-communicating. Collection day for the iPads? Oh yeah, we sent out an email a couple weeks ago about that. Restrictions on the student iPads? We put that info on our single website for everything iPad. No matter what you are doing, 1:1 or otherwise, be prepared to communicate in multiple mediums with multiple distributions and repetitions. Spreading the word will help decrease confusion and frustration and increase trust and clarity.
5. Do NOT be surprised by parent concerns
One day I will write a book about both parent concerns I’ve heard over the years when it relates to technology and interesting ways in which teachers have broken their iPads. When you start a 1:1 program where students take the device home, realize that there is a real sentiment that the school is “invading” the parents’ home. While the intended purpose is to extend learning to the home environment, it adds a new dynamic to parenting and home life. ”I have to use my iPad for my homework” can quickly turn into a 4-hour Minecraft session when the mom and dad aren’t monitoring. Think of the shift (in sound mostly) when a student brings home a musical instrument to practice. This is like that only it doesn’t make a lot of sound and can be highly distracting if proper frameworks and parenting techniques are employed. No matter how ludicrous the stories are, they are real and it should be our role to educate and listen to all, including parents.
6. Do NOT take all other technology away for months in advance
Getting rid of the old to replace with the new is a tried and true method every technology department spends the summer doing. However, I would never recommend taking the old (desktops in the backs of classrooms) and then waiting a few months before you put in the new (1:1 iPads in our case). While it will increase appreciation for technology, it’s not necessary and just adds stress to the beginning of the year. You want them thirsty, but not at the expense of crossing the desert to get water. Consider a transition time when both are in the classroom and remove the “old” only after the “new” are in.
7. Do NOT assume students know how to use them
Sure they can play Angry Birds and check Facebook, but can they create, edit and send a Pages doc? Kids can pick up technology must faster than adults, largely due to the programing in their brain, but don’t assume they know WHEN and WHY to use it even if they know the HOW.
8. Do NOT give elementary teachers iPads without some grade-level apps on them
Last year, we were able to give most teachers a few iPads or even a cart to share and experiment with on the elementary level. Teachers loved this extra access and converted many of the shared iPads into centers of sorts. Since these are meant to be personal devices, the idea of creating and keeping work on them wasn’t really emphasized in the shared environment. That all changes when they become 1:1. When we distributed the 1:1 iPads we put a “trunk image” of apps on there and encouraged teachers to suggest other apps to be installed that were more grade level specific. This meant that the 1:1 iPad classrooms only had 40 or so general apps on them and not the 120 or so shared apps they had in the previous model. Not having the grade-level apps they were familiar with to start made some teachers hesitate using the devices. I actually think it’s a good idea to start with just the core apps, but you need to make sure that is communicated to those teachers as well as expectations of early use in class. (See point #4)
9. Do NOT underestimate Middle School students ability to break your restrictions
With the high school, we left the iPad fairly open. We didn’t restrict app or music purchases with the thinking that teaching the students responsible use before they head off to college isn’t a bad idea. For middle school kids though, they aren’t quite ready to comprehend that level of power, so we placed some age appropriate restrictions on them. It took a couple of weeks, but soon a small group of students figured out how to remove them and the word spread. Luckily we have it written in their Responsible Use document that removing restrictions or jail-breaking is an offense and our MDM can detect who has done it. That said, it’s a good idea to make sure kids are aware of this when you distribute them, otherwise they will eventually be done in with pre-pubescent curiosity to try and break the system.
10. Do NOT short your count of iPads on distribution day
I had to put this last one on here, even though it’s pretty embarrassing. On the second of our high school distribution days we had pretty much accounted for everything, or so we thought. We changed the way distribution took place, centralizing it, rather than going room to room which was a great time-saver. However, in the course of handing kids back their iPad from the year before, rental iPads, or new iPads, our student count got lost in the shuffle. An order was placed (not naming names here) for what was thought to be the right amount, but in the end, it was about 200 short. As incredibly embarrassing as this is to share, it shows you that every minor detail can become major if not accounted for. I captured this video of our assistant principal telling the last class period of students that we had run out. Not a great moment, but on the bright side we had some put aside for elementary so with a little extra effort, we were able to repurpose those in a few days for those kids without. Lesson learned though, always triple-check your counts and allow for a few extras!
School has started for most of us around the country. Alarm clocks are set, bleary-eyed kids stumble their way to class, and iPads are being handed out. Just a typical day here at Eanes and many districts across the country. As the amount of 1:1 schools and districts continue to grow with many different devices, but specifically the Apple iPad, I thought it might be good to reflect and share the laundry list of items we’ve prepared in getting ready for our roll-outs. (all high school students, 8th graders, and 2 grade levels at the elementary schools are 1:1 this year) I’ve already written about 10 things NOT to do in a 1:1 here (the list is growing in year 2) but what about things we SHOULD do?
I’ve broken down the check list into three main categories -Administrative, Instructional, and Technical. There are parts of each that intermingle, but needed some general categories to go off and these are the main three components.
- Administrative Duties -
Communication - This covers everything from Board presentations to community dialogues to basic stuff like making the campus aware of when deployments are taking place. I can’t stress enough the amount of communication that will be needed in this entire process which is why it’s in all three components. Face-to-face communication is extremely important and should always be anchored in district goals and strategic plans. Remember, like Simon Sinek talked about on TED, it’s the “Why” that’s more important than the “What”.
Documentation - This almost goes hand in hand with communication, but these are areas where districts should seek some legal input. Handing out expensive devices, while the total cost may be less than a stack of textbooks and a TI-83 calculator, needs to be properly documented for each and every iPad that is distributed. Each student and parent should sign a Loan agreement and acknowledge the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). In our district, we updated our AUP and turned it into a Responsible Use Guideline for all technology, whether it be BYOT, iPads or computers.
Budget - These devices, their accessories and their apps cost money. There needs to be time spent on the cost to fulfill a vision of 1:1, which grade levels to start at, and ultimately, which funds will be used to sustain it once it’s off the ground. Depending on the model of deployment that is used, there will either be a lot of money put towards apps or personnel to manage the apps.
Process - Having a core group of educational leaders on campus and throughout the district is an important part of the buy-in phase. Part of the beauty of these devices is surrendering control in some senses to allow students to personalize based on educational needs. That means there needs to be a process for getting apps to them and an idea about what happens when they break their loan agreement or have discipline issues.
- Instructional Duties -
Staff training - It can’t be overstated enough that these devices need to be in the hands of teachers well before the student models arrive. They need to feel comfortable with them and start thinking of ideas to integrate them into their instruction. Summertime is an ideal time to get most of the level-based integration training, but consider putting training in an iTunesU course to revisit at a later date. Throughout the year, provide opportunities to share what they have learned with their peers in an informal setting (which we like to call “Appy Hours“). The collaboration doesn’t have to be face-to-face either, set up grade-level teams in Edmodo so they can share ideas across the district as a way to virtually meet.
Student training - Don’t assume that every kid knows how to use the iPad. These kids may be digital natives, but most of their exposure to these devices has been for entertainment more than for education. Lessons of digital citizenship and internet safety will need to be developed and taught, but also don’t overlook the fact that many students will need tutorials on how to set up their email, submit assignments, and backing up their data.
Tutorials - To assist with the high-level of training, both prior to deployment and during the year, instructional teams should build a database of resources and FAQs for all staff, students, and parents to access. This will help take care of some of the little questions that can really bog things down once distribution has happened.
Communication - Teachers are the conduit to the parent. They are the first person many parents see in the morning and last one they see in the afternoon. It’s important that they have a clear understanding of district mission and how apps/iPads are distributed. They’ll also want an avenue for sharing exciting projects as the year progresses. These projects help with both campus and district-based communication.
- Technical Duties -
Prior set-up - Prior to even thinking of deploying iPads, evaluation of wireless infrastructure is a must. Nothing can bring a network down quicker than the sudden introduction of a few thousand devices into the system. The devices will need to be prepped with some form of identification (we went with this laser etcher) and a profile if distributing these to younger students. Apple configuration can help with some of these profiles and detection of iPads lost on campus, but it’s advisable to have a form of mass deployment for apps pre-established. Entering these devices into a student information system helps with tracking all the pertinent data, so forms and fields will need to be established prior to distribution day to make that process run smoothly.
Communication - The common thread in all three components is also extremely important from the technology department. Any glitches, issues, budgetary discussions, and processes for repair will need to be constantly communicated to campus staff and leadership. The actual process of distribution and pick-up can be pretty cumbersome as well. This is where a type-A person comes in handy for organizing these events in making them as trouble-free and emotional-less as possible.
Repair - The first few weeks after deployment be prepared for any and all issues. Technology departments would do right in finishing any other campus projects prior to these distribution days as the amount of issues will spike immediately following deployment. Most of these are workable with proper training and tutorials in conjunction with the instructional department, but it doesn’t stop little Johnny from coming to the help desk to ask about a certain app. Ideally, there would be a service desk (ours is called the Juice Bar) that is centrally located and manned during high-density times for student off-periods (lunch, before and after school, etc.). The final piece of the puzzle is having a plan for processing insurance, getting spares from Apple, and having a quick way to assess and turn-around repairs so students are without this instructional tool.
There you have in a nutshell. I tried to make most of this list as district agnostic as possible, but some of the “Eanes way” snuck in there. I’m also attaching this handy checklist that details these above duties in greater detail for you to use or adapt. Best of luck in all your iPad launches and I hope you have a successful program putting this technology in the hands of kids.
Part of the benefit of jumping forward with a 1:1 iPad deployment like we have tried is that we get the opportunity to impart knowledge to other districts looking to do a similar initiative. While that might not seem like a benefit, it actually also means we can make some mistakes because there is not a long history of this type of deployment in the world. Many districts have had 1:1 Laptop projects, which we have benefited from and could easily be applied to this list I’m about to share. However, for the sake of our specific district, and the questions I get from other districts on a daily basis, I’m going to break down the ten things you should NOT do when implementing a 1:1 iPad program.
1. Do NOT wait until the last minute to give them to staff.
Due to the timing of our bond package and when funds could become available, we didn’t actually have iPads in hand and branded until mid-July. That means many teachers only got to experience the iPads in their hands for one month or less. Not ideal when trying to make your staff comfortable. Perfect world they could have them a year to a semester ahead of time. Or at least before the summer starts.
2. Do NOT expect it to go perfectly on the first day students get them.
We planned the launch day as perfectly as we could have, but there are always a couple of issues to deal with. We had iPad cases held up in customs at DFW airport, so we had to fill a last-minute order of 1500 cases the night before. We crashed our Casper server 3 hours into the first day as hundreds of kids were downloading their apps at the same time. Both of those issues are fixable, but you can’t always anticipate those things during planning.
3. Do NOT roll out all your apps at the same time on the same day.
See item #2 above. If you are doing a 1:1 model like ours, where the end-user gets the apps, you don’t want to force-feed all your apps down on the same day. This is especially true with larger apps like Garageband, which we left off the initial day list and released it on the weekend, when kids could download it from their own bandwidth at home. This spreads the downloads out over time so you don’t have 1500 kids downloading a 1.7 GB app during 3rd period.
4. Do NOT try and control everything about the iPad.
There are several models out there for deployment of apps – A personal model, an institutional model, and a layered model being the most common. The beauty and educational relevance of these devices is the personalization of learning that can happen. That is null and void the second you turn this into just another “system” to manage through your technology department. These are NOT PC’s. Do NOT try and manage them as such. You destroy the value-add by doing that. Because of age restrictions with Apple IDs, you can only have students 13+ manage those accounts. I encourage you to do that (this is the personal model). Students under 13, you’re likely to be forced to use some version of the other two models. In the personal model, the worst thing that can happen is they walk away with an app like Keynote. God forbid they actually want to use an educational tool to make presentations after they graduate.
5. Do NOT expect teaching to change immediately.
I have long been preaching the SAMR model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura as how teaching should progress in a 1:1 (or any) environment. Apple has also relied heavily on this model and I figure they know what they are talking about. Teachers can’t be expected to change the way they teach overnight. However, most of the tools we’ve given them in the past (Smartboards, document cameras, etc) were teaching tools. This tool is in the hands of kids, which means it’s student-driven. Teachers and students will lean heavily on substitution in the SAMR model to start, but have patience. Redefinition of teaching and learning does NOT happen overnight.
6. Do NOT assume the entire community will be on board.
As great as the idea behind personalized learning can be, it can be a pretty severe mind-shift for those lay-people in the community. Add on top of that, budget cuts with staff time, and you can see how this can quickly turn into a no-win scenario. It’s important to stress what the goals are in all of this and also to get both parents and teachers working with you to find solutions to little problems. However, that doesn’t mean you give them the option to not participate. The most successful 1:1 programs have a universal understanding and expectation across the district about what can and should be accomplished. In the community, there is a common misconception that an iPad isn’t a computer. If you pass a bond to buy computers, you need to make sure they understand that these are in fact tablet computers. The other item to stress is that this is a powerful classroom tool that now takes the place of the textbook, calculator, dictionary, etc. It might not do everything, but for the cost and what it will do, it’s well worth the investment.
7. Do NOT evaluate the program solely with test scores.
It may be the easiest and most publicized metric to measure kids with, but it’s far from the most accurate when you are talking about changing the culture of learning and customizing a student’s school experience through a 1:1 program. Engagement, motivation, collaboration, communication and the desire to dig deeper into subjects were all items we measured through anonymous student and teacher surveys. With all of those improvements, it’s what happens next when the student goes on to college and post-college life, that’s a thousand times more important than how they did on a random test. This item is closely tied to item 6 above when talking to the community about how the program is going.
8. Do NOT limit staff training to the summer.
Due to budgetary cuts, our high school teachers lost an extra planning period which was considered “PLC time”. This time was framed around Dufour’s Professional Learning Communities and allowed for same-subject area teachers to have a common planning time to grow and learn. On top of that, we cut back our instructional technologists across the district. Both of these factors could have killed the program and definitely kept us from transforming teaching and learning as much as we would have liked. The research of Robert Marzano and the findings in Project Red talk about how one of the key traits to successful implementation of 1:1 is a monthly training at minimum lead by the Principal and key leaders to give teachers the tools they need. Research also suggests that teachers will ultimately determine the success of the program, so it’s worth investing in them. We have seen the error in our ways and will implement back some PLC Time next year as well as add some support staff.
9. Do NOT expect email to be the best option for submitting work
Being paperless has been a great cost savings for us. We’ve cut back on paper use by 22% in the first few months and that’s only with 2 grade levels having 1:1 technology. While that’s a great cost-savings, management of all those digital files can be an issue for teachers. They no longer have to tote 187 papers back and forth to school, but now all of those papers will crowd their inbox of their email. Teachers at our high school have figured out how to use Gmail’s filtering to help with this organization, but ultimately, a good content management system is needed. We just purchased our system (eBackPack) to put in place for next year, and hope that not only will paper be saved, but also time.
10. Do NOT let fear overcome your mission
Everyone will go through a point in time where they doubt the idea of a 1:1 iPad program working. They’ll think it’s a fad. They’ll think it’s a waste of money. They’ll complain about having to change. All of these and hundreds of other concerns will be raised throughout the implementation process. It is easy to get dismayed by the loud minority of critics out there. If there is any hope of your program being successful, the core team of administrators, teachers and students need to be on the same page, speaking the same message. That message is plain and simple: This is not a technology expense, it’s an investment in our students and their future.
Before I share the link to this recent guest spot on “Appy Hour 4 U” on Blogspot Radio, let me set the scene with a series of tweets that happened about 25 minutes before we went on air:
A couple of notes here -
1. You have to marvel a bit at the power of social media. Sure this is just a direct message on twitter, which is similar to email, but it amazes me the different ways people can communicate with each other. Carolyn Foote (@technolibrary) and I have even carried on a tri-modal conversation via email, text message and twitter. Not the easiest of conversations to follow, but not as hard as you might imagine.
2. As you can tell by her response, that I do have one form of kryptonite that also works well as bribes for last minute requests. Monster’s Low carb energy drink is one of many odd items that you would find in a visit to my office (along with a bin full of wigs and real longhorns). It’s a staple in my diet around 3:00 pm most work days. However, recently when I discovered that mixing it along with prensidone (a medical steroid for my back) that not only did I suddenly have super-human strength, but I could also type a 750-word blog post in less than 10 minutes. (Should be out tomorrow on the SchoolCIO.com/blogs site). That said, if Monster Energy wants an Ed Tech sponsor, sign me up!
So with those two excuses….er…..reasons out there, I submit my last-second, near flawless interview with Lisa Johnson and Yolanda Barker from NEISD. In this interview I discuss the 1:1 iPad pilot and progress, where we are going next, the spring TECSIG meeting on April 19, iPadpalooza, UT Flip Teaching and of course, The Walking Dead. (see last blog post)
Please take a moment to listen, it’s 45-minutes of fun conversation and I promise you’ll laugh at least once.
Those of you that follow me on Twitter know that I’ve been begging for an app that let’s me screen capture everything I’m doing on my iPad. Ideally, this would be on the iPad itself, but I realize that might be a couple of revs away. Today I heard about Reflection App (reflectionapp.com) a $14.99 app that your run on your Mac that lets you mirror your iPad on the screen via Airplay.
Now you can screen record (via Quicktime) everything you do on your iPad2 or iPhone4s! Gone are the days of recording in a dark room with a camera over your shoulder and a bad glare on the screen. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if next week’s Apple announcement trumps this and lets you do it for free, but I had to see it to believe it. See sample video below:
The Westlake Initiative for Innovation (WIFI) project launched in August of 2011 in the Eanes Independent School District. The objectives – create a culture of digital and global learning, increase the relevance of education in real-world scenarios, and allow for a more individualized, flexible and differentiated learning via 1:1 iPads for every Junior and Senior level student. When the WIFI project began, those may have been the focal points of introducing a new tool into an already successful high school environment, but as our data and focus-group studies have shown us, there were a lot of other unintended outcomes as a result of this pilot.
In October of 2011, students and teachers were surveyed about the use of iPads in their classes. Since only those 38 teachers that were actually in the WIFI program were required to have some sort of integrated instruction with the iPad, some students were in classes that weren’t required to integrate these. It’s actually possible for a Junior to have 7 different teachers that aren’t involved in the WIFI pilot all together (the opposite is also true). That said, here are the outcomes of that initial survey:
Survey Questions and Data -
Number of students taking the survey – 862 total students – 50% Senior, 49% Junior, 1% Other (Some sophomores in upper-level classes also got an iPad)
Number of students that used their iPad to take the survey – 97%
Reading novels or other assigned reading – 88%
Interacting with Websites and Apps – 88%
Taking Notes – 86%
Communicating and organizing (email, calendars, etc) – 85%
Collaborating with others (FaceTime, Google Docs, Social networks, etc) – 75%
Creating movies and presentations – 61%
Completing worksheets – 59%
Using online textbooks – 58%
Analysis: Like the SAMR model of technology infusion, many teachers and students begin to use the iPad as a means to substitute regular tasks in the classroom like note-taking and completing a worksheet. However, the amount of teachers (including those not in the WIFI pilot) that use them for some basic functionality has increased. We attribute some of this to comfort levels, but much of it comes from the students and their expectations of using these in class regularly.
In the next series of questions, we asked the students what effects having the iPad with them in the classroom have on various aspects of their learning. Engagement, motivation, distraction, ability to dig deeper and overall learning experience were measured. Here are the results:
90% of students reported some level of greater motivation to learn
85% of students felt some level of increased engagement in the learning process.
24% of students reported feeling distracted at some level at school with the iPad
Conversely, 40% felt little to no distraction with the iPads at school. (the rest were neutral)
89% reported having the iPad gave them a desire to dig deeper into certain subjects
93% replied that having the iPad in the classroom increased the likely hood of submitting an assignment online rather than paper.
89% Agreed or strongly agreed that overall, having the iPad has enhanced their learning experience.
Analysis: While not 100% in any one area, the iPad had significant effects in the learning process for students. Distraction was a bit of a concern, so we wanted to make sure to follow-up on that with teachers and students in our focus groups later in the year.
Teacher Survey Data
Teachers were given a similar survey with questions on their perspective of how the iPad has affected teaching and learning.
95% reported a high to extremely significant impact on how the iPad has helped them as a teacher
93% use the iPad to research content for their courses during the week and at some point several times a day
100% reported that communication has improved between teacher to student because of the iPad
93% reported that it had improved their assessment abilities to some level, with 34% reporting a significant increase in ease of assessment and data gathering.
96% reported that the iPad helped them accomplish what they need to do each day as a teacher. 30% of that group gave it the highest rating and claimed “I love it and think its the greatest thing since the chalkboard.”
Analysis: Teachers had the iPads in their hands only weeks, or in some cases days, before the students. In the comment section many reported that getting the iPads earlier would have increased their comfort-level and helped them plan for ways to integrate. While the desire for more training stood out, overall the iPad had a significant positive impact on their day-to-day operations as a teacher.
Focus Group Responses -
In December of 2011, the administrative staff at Westlake questioned groups of students and teachers from various classes. The students were chosen at random, coming from various subject areas and courses and not necessarily all with teachers in the WIFI project. Their feedback was extremely valuable and brought to light several unexpected outcomes.
On several occasions, students in the focus group reported a marked decrease in stress levels in school because of the iPad. They no longer had to manage and remember where all their papers are and were as they had them all in one spot. One student said, “It is just easier to keep track of things like notes and homework. It is all right there (on the iPad).”
Another factor in decreased stress levels was the real-time communication that students now had with teachers. One student said, “In the past, when I had a question on an assignment in 3rd period, I had to wait 5 hours until I got home, get on the computer, email the teacher, hope that the teacher was checking email, then wait for a response. Now that both the teachers and students have iPads, I can ask the question during 4th period lunch and have an answer by 5th period. Saving me hours of worry or confusion.”
Distraction was an issue on the October survey, but when asked about the level of distraction in the December focus groups, both teachers and students acknowledged that the distraction was greatly decreased from the first few weeks of having the iPads in hand. Several factors can be attributed to this decrease in distraction. One is that the novelty of the iPad had worn off and students were now truly using them for primarily instructional purposes. Another was that teachers had now become accustomed to managing this new device in their class and the administration at the high school re-enforced the fact that the iPads didn’t have to be used every minute of class. Students also mentioned that “it’s harder to hide an iPad than a phone” when trying to do something they shouldn’t be.
Staff acknowledged that if a student was distracted before the iPad, they would be distracted with it. Many staff reported that the lack of papers in their life made it a time-saver, but there were still some challenges when it came to turning projects and papers in. Repeatedly, staff reported that the anytime access to content and the internet was a significant help in their teaching and the learning of the students.
Lastly, students increasingly saw the iPad as more of a tool than a toy as the semester wore on. Senior Taylor Sutton said, “Students realize how much it is worth to them, so they don’t want it taken away. So it is put away when the teacher asks.” Another student drove home this fact that the iPad had transformed into a “school tool” when he mentioned that over the holiday break he left his iPad at a friend’s house for the entire two weeks. He felt like it was something that you use for school and wanted a break from it as well. Of course, the night before 2nd semester, he said it was charged and ready to go.
Summary of data and focus groups:
The data and feedback from staff and students would suggest that, like any new tool, the iPad experienced the classic “implementation dip” in late September/early October. Since then, it’s value in the classroom has continued to rise as distraction has given way to authentic learning. Teachers use of the iPads in their lessons began primarily as substitutive in nature, but has seen an increased in augmented uses and in some cases, teachers even redefining how they teach. Teachers across the board desired more training and support when it comes to integration of the iPad in their daily lessons.
Student research and questioning suggests that it has transformed learning at an even greater rate than that of teaching. They have discovered new and creative ways to use the iPad to help them learn and collaborate, including some students making use of FaceTime to remote into a class when they are out sick. As the value of this learning tool has increased, the singularly most asked question by Seniors is “can we buy these at the end of the semester so I can use it for college.”
All in all, the WIFI pilot has had its share of challenges to both teaching and learning, but overall, the summary of its intended and unintended outcomes has made it a success. This success is best addressed through the voices of the students. One recent quote that summarizes this success was from Student body President Steven Wilbanks. When he was asked in January how the iPad has affected his education he said, “I can’t remember what it was like to learn without this. Honestly, it seems like the old way of learning (without the iPad) was a long time ago.”Thanks to Cathy Cluck, WHS teacher for organizing and collecting the teacher survey results. Thanks to Stephen Shands, WHS Assistant Principal, for sharing quotes from focus group feedback. Special thanks to WHS Students Arnab Chatterjee and Steven Wilbanks for organizing and collecting student data as well as presenting to the Eanes School Board their findings.
There’s one thing for certain when reflecting back on this year’s TCEA conference, if the world ends this year as the Mayan calendar predicts, we’ll find out about it on our iPad using Pinterest to post pictures of the demise. TCEA routinely hosts one of the best values in educational conventions across the country for instructional technology. Hard to argue with 5 days of learning and connecting for just a smidge under $250*(Premium package). However, this year more than ever a single device ruled the conference. It’s no surprise that Apple’s tablet has taken off in schools and districts across the country. Those of you that have read this blog, know all the amazing growth that has happened at our district from these devices. TCEA greatly reflected the societal and educational shift to tablet and mobile computing this year. It seemed that every time I turned around I saw a session with some sort of clever “i” title. From ” iBuild iPad Lessons” with those zany NorthEast ISD ladies (Yolanda Barker and Lisa Johnson) to “Living in an iWorld” with Bastrop Tech Director Bryan Doyle, it seemed that perhaps we should have been attending “iTCEA” this year. While some may claim it’s showing blatent disregard for other platforms (or favoritism for one), looking at the history of TCEA reveals that they have struck true with the trends in education and reflected what was happening in the field and in some cases, that means a little bit of preferential treatment towards the trendy hardware. Here’s brief hysterical look-back at the history of the convention and hardware bias -
2006- Smartboards – Much like this year, every title had some clever play on words with “Smart” in the title. ”Come get SMARTer” and “It doesn’t take a genius to be SMART” were all over the convention handout. Of equal annoyance was the amount of bright royal blue t-shirts that seemed to be worn by every attendee in an effort to win a Smartboard for their classroom.
2001-3 – Digital Cameras – There was a three-year span in the early 2000′s where digital cameras and storytelling were all the rage. While the ideas behind digital storytelling still hold merit, it’s hard to find a session on digital cameras offered these days. (Although Ben Grey held an excellent one in the Web 2.0 lounge this year)
1993 – Palm Pilots – Although they had been on the market for few years, the Palms really started taking off in education around 1993. Again, because of Ed Tech’s overwhelming need to pun everything, titles in the 1993 catalog including knee-slapping phrases like “Learning in the Palm of your Hand” and “Melts in your Brain, not in your Palm” and my favorite “Palms – You’re Soaking In It says Madge“
1987 – TI Calculators – A dark year in the history of the conference as low attendance yields gave way to crazy contests and giveaways. One of the least memorable contests was seeing how many words you could spell with numbers upside-down using a calculator. While a little known Aldine ISD tech coordinator named Lori Gracey would win the competition, it would take years for her to show her face in the convention after proudly touting her winning word – “5318008.07734″.
1984 – Mimeographs – Spawned by the pop-culture madness of the movie Teachers, Mimeographs were the go-to events at the conference. It was common to find standing room only to many of these sessions that were held in air-tight rooms in order to keep the mimeograph ink-smell inside. Sadly, this would be the only year the conference would end before Friday, as most of the attendees walked around in zombie-like states from the hallucinogenic smell of said ink.
1980 – Overhead Projectors – The first year of the TCEA Convention was a big year for overhead projectors. They had changed the face of education and many districts often fought over what was their best use in the classroom. Should kids write on them? How do we find funding out of state allotments for those vis-a-vis pens? What kind of insurance do we need to replace lightbulbs that can run in upwards of 900 degrees? Important questions but as you can see, the convention has come a long way.
Stay tuned for TCEA 2012 Recap Part 2: Things Just Got Pinteresting
(yes, I know I just used a pun…ugh)