iPads are increasing in popularity, and more and more schools are becoming a part of the Apple movement to incorporate and infuse mobile learning and information technology into the classroom. With prices being better than laptop devices, and mobile learning increasing exploding in usage, it makes sense that tablets are a direction that schools will be heading in the years to come.
However, as with any major decisions involving technology, we as educators must ask ourselves what the needs of our schools are, and decide if deployment of tablets are in fact going to meet the needs of staff and students at this point in time. We must also ask the tough questions too, and wonder if, in our rapidly changing world of technology, is the iPad movement in itself is just a fad? With a myriad of ‘educational apps’, at seemingly low prices, what could possibly go wrong? Perhaps nothing, but here are some tips to consider when rolling out new technologies in your school.
Deployment plans and curriculum design for the iPad are 2 distinct entities. Let’s look at some possible considerations for deploying iPads, and designing curriculum and assessment for the iPad.
In terms of Deployment:
· Ensure that you have identified and trained that ‘Tech go-to’ person(s) in your school, who will be responsible for all the stages of deployment, from the organization of staging areas, syncing devises, downloading and updating apps, and managing ID’s and distinct emails . Role Titles such as Program managers, Facilitators, and Account Holders can also be given as well for the purposes of sharing responsibilities and
· Equity and Access. This is likely one of the most important roles of our schools in our societies. It is important for educators to ask themselves how they will ensure equitable access to iPads for students? Will they stay in one location, ie., the Library? Or will they travel. If they travel, how will teachers be trained, and who will oversee schedules to ensure equity of opportunity for all students and classrooms?
· What is your budget for iPad apps. Caution will need to be exercised when looking at ‘free apps’. Free apps come with advertising. Do you want to include advertising into your purposeful planning for student learning? Especially when it may be unpredictable and possibly inappropriate.
· Other questions surrounding Deployment and budgets may also include, Will you purchase a ‘sync’ station? (even though in the fine print, this may not be allowed?) What are other schools doing that we can follow? Are students allowed to sign out devices to take home?
· In terms of protecting the Privacy of our students, what are the privacy ramifications for working in the iCloud, as those services are typically designed for individuals, and not institutions? What firewalls and filters are in place, and what plans are in place to keep students safe on the iPads?
· How will you provide safe and effective and storage for your devices, and provision of safe re-charging stations?
Deborah McCallum is an Educator and a Writer. She writes both Fiction, & Non-Fiction including Curriculum, Psychology of Learning, and of how we can incorporate First Nations, Metis, & Inuit perspectives in education. With Graduate Studies in Counselling Psychology, and over 12 years of Teaching and Librarianship experience, Deborah has developed in-depth expertise and knowledge into important issues surrounding Education in the 21st Century. Visit Deborah’s blog http://bigideasinedu.edublogs.org/