As mentioned in a previous post (Choosing the Next Device), we are moving forward with iPads in all K-12 grade levels but our new model will look and feel much different than the previous one. When we embarked on the 1:1 in 2011, there was really no systems designed to distribute and manage our devices. Workflow was an issue (we used email mostly). While we put restrictions on the devices in terms of age-appropriate app downloads, it was impossible to completely block all “non-instructional” apps without completely locking down the device.
With the release of iOS 9.3 and the subsequent update of our JAMF server, Apple has revamped classroom and technology support of iPads in education. Below are some of the newest features that Eanes ISD will be taking advantage of in order to optimize the use of these tools for learning.
1. Eanes App Store
Some of the feedback our Digital Learning Task Force received from teachers, students and parents was that non-instructional apps were a distraction when it came to learning. While we have restricted some of this usage over the years, we will now have the ability to completely remove Apple’s App Store from the device. Students will only have access to apps that we provision in the Self-Service app (examples below) which will act as a sort of “Eanes App Store”. (see infographic at the bottom of this post) We also now have additional flexibility to give some students, based on learning need and responsibility, access to the actual app store at some point.
Teachers and students will still have the ability to request apps which can be added to this new Eanes App Store. By doing this we’ll also be addressing another concern that was raised in that we have too many apps being used all over the district. This will allow us to better align both horizontally and vertically the apps that we are providing to our students throughout the district.
New Apple Management
The new iOS will allow for better management and deployment which will also help address another issue raised with the DLTF. Many students didn’t receive their iPads until a few weeks into the school year. Since most of our instructional materials are now digital, this caused quite an issue. With the new management software, we’ll be able to deploy devices much sooner, getting instructional materials and digital tools for learning at an earlier date than before.
Apple Classroom is a new tool that was just launched by Apple during its latest announcement on Monday, March 21. This new tool will act as a “Teacher’s Assistant” of sorts in that teachers can glance at all the screens of their students on their own screen to check for off-task behavior. Additionally, the teacher can reset passcodes, remote launch and lock apps on student devices, and select a student’s device to view on the big screen wirelessly.
In closing, we’ve come a long way since that initial deployment in 2011. We’ve seen many things NOT to do and many amazing projects and benefits as a result of having mobile technology in our classrooms. This next phase of our 1:1 will bring even deeper learning as we continue to focus our instructional use and make learning truly personal for all of our students.
Like most implementations, you hit road bumps. We can’t know what we don’t know and the rapid evolution of all things tech made/makes it difficult to stay ahead of the curve. But you were willing to iterate…and listen. Kudos. I, too, and excited about the new iOS. I think most districts will agree the number of non-instructional apps is a major distraction. Choice is important, and I applaud you for still allowing recommendations from teachers and students. Many districts have departments that select (and limit) the apps. Don’t get me wrong, it is CRITICAL that evaluation happen. Have you used Balefire Labs? http://www.balefirelabs.com? Unlike many of the review sites which tend to rely heavily on metrics of engagement, Balefire uses elements necessary for deep learning as key indicators in their objective reviews. The highest rated apps are those which are adaptive, provide learner & teacher support, and are mastery based. These are apps which embed formative assessment and level up or down based on learner progression. That’s the individualized learning we are shooting for. Personalized learning CAN occur when given the choice between different apps, or not using an app at all. But apps provide for individuals who prefer and/or need the types of instruction/intervention that adaptive software provides. Anyway, check them out and see what you think. You have a great model and I believe you will find Balefire can help in the choice/selection cycles.
Thanks for your comments and the resource. I’ll check it out!