– by Scott Petronech
During the 2010-2011 school year, we discussed the idea of implementing an iPad project. We were having problems finding school-based evaluations on mobile devices and decided to implement a pilot project where staff could apply to receive an iPad to integrate into their classroom routines and lessons. This group of teachers met regularly to discuss their findings and reflect on the advantages and drawbacks of the device.
This was a departure for us because we had implemented a school-wide 1:1 project with MacBooks four years earlier. We had been extremely pleased with the educational advantages of providing 600 grade 4-9 students with a laptop, but were interested in researching the advantages of mobile devices.
This initial study showed us the educational potential of mobile devices and encouraged us to expand the scope of the project. We implemented a 1:1 iPad2 project for the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. 100 grade 7 students were provided with an iPad2 for 24-7 access. In order for these students to receive this hardware, several steps had to be followed:
It took us some time to develop the technical aspects for managing this project. The following decisions were made:
- Bretford iPad carts were placed in each classroom to charge the devices and store them when not in use.
- Different coloured Apple Smart Covers were used in each classroom to distinguish class sets of devices.
- A numbering system was designed to link each student to a specific device.
- Casper Suite (JAMF software) was implemented as a management and deployment solution.
- Aerohive wireless network was installed.
- These 100 students would have access to 1 class set of laptops (25 MacBooks) in an attempt to develop a blended learning environment.
We are now more than halfway through the school year and are starting to collect some interesting information regarding this project. Our grade 7 teachers are posting blogs to document their experiences and showcase how they are utilizing iPads within and outside the walls of our school.
In upcoming posts, I plan on sharing some of the learning opportunities we are encountering. This will cover topics related to:
- Purpose: What are the strengths and limitations of mobile devices and how should they be used within a classroom environment?
- Support: What can we do to further assist our students, teachers and parents with mobile devices and tech integration?
- Inquiry-based learning: Do apps lead to technology integration?
- Infrastructure: What technical hardware needs to be put in place to make an iPad project successful?
If you would like further information regarding our iPad project, please feel free to contact me.