If you’ve ever tried to find a way to share a small set of iPad devices in your class or school, you’re probably familiar with reaching for a bottle of ibuprofen while doing so. These tools have been designed for personal, customized use, and employing them for any other purpose debilitates much of their potential, particularly as it relates to workflow and productivity. There are few things as technologically maddening than having an iMovie project you’ve been working on literally swiped away in one, surreptitious swoop. While it is all well and good to say that a culture of respect supersedes such unfortunate incidents, it is also naive to expect problems like this not to arise.
But should this illicit a call for their irrelevance as shared devices, or an insistence that 1:1 is the only way to go? Or, worse yet, a demand that we figure out a way to image these devices like a lot of our district’s standardized PCs? In my experience, no. Rather, it instead means we need to put on our ever-frequented problem-solving hats and get to work on a solution that works for our own given contexts. Here is how we do it in my grade 7 classes.
Two classes, sixty-ish middle school students, and fifteen iPad devices (2nd generation).
What We Do
- We create what we call ‘Learning Partners’ in the class, in which I use a variety of diagnostic assessments as well as student partnership requests to determine pairs that remain together for an extended period of time. iPad considerations aside, I have found these partnerships to have enormous benefit for learning in the classroom because it suggests that working with someone is something more akin to a relationship than just a speed dating experience, so to speak. Here is the simple Google form I use to get student input (click the image to view live form).
- With our 15 iPad devices, this means that each one gets assigned to a partnership in the respective classes. By lessening the number of people who get their hands on the device, I have observed a marked difference in subversive behaviour.
- We establish a four-digit iPad password that only the partners and myself know. I keep everyone’s passwords in my Evernote.
- Partners co-create a short, written 3-point agreement as to care and management of the device. I stress to students the importance of the brevity and clarity of the agreement, because it makes it easier to remember and stick to. Here is one example:
So, even though sharing a small set of iPad devices with a large group of students is probably akin to trying to do the same with ice cream cones, you know you are a genius educator/social engineer who can prevent those treats from splattering on the proverbial pavement.
What iPad sharing strategies have worked for you?