A Message to Staff About iPads

Dear Staff,

iPad devices are wonderful pieces of technology that can enhance the collaboration, creativity, and engagement already present in your classrooms. An important thing to remember about them, however, is that they are designed for personal, not shared, use. This does not mean they should not or cannot be shared; it simply means that sharing them presents us with challenges which we do not necessarily encounter with a normal board/district imaged (standardized, centrally controlled and maintained) computer, and have historically rarely encountered with school technology. Some of these include:

  • loss of files
  • anonymous subversion of apps, settings, and files
  • difficulty in saving, transferring, and organizing files
  • an inability to personalize apps
  • because they are very portable, greater chance of physical damage.

We have had difficulty having our current iPad cart booked out from period to period because of this. The thing to remember about iPad devices is that the software is not maintained or supported by Information Technology Services as they are ‘stand-alone’ devices (not controlled centrally). Up until now, and moving forward, they are ones which the classroom teacher must maintain, update, and solve problems with on their own.

This is why it is much better to have iPads in your class for an extended period of time, so you grow accustomed to working with them, as they are not necessarily devices that are ‘grab and use for a period’. This is also why it is much better to password protect each iPad, so it’s not as possible for students to anonymously change the settings on each device.

With this in mind, we would like to start a new signing out process with iPads in which teachers sign them out for an entire month, so that they can benefit classroom learning to the utmost, and so you can learn how to administer them.

Thanks everyone! Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.


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  1. says

    Good points Royan. I would also add that the pedagogy of technology has changed and the ‘lab/cart’ use needs to morph and change too. Students need access to a variety of tools throughout the day. They need to be able to select when and for what purpose they are using the technology. Booking tech for a period doesn’t effectively develop those skills.

    In our building we have purchased iPads for the primary classes. We placed two iPads in each room instead of creating a cart for sign out. It is a shift from the lab thinking and teachers are adjusting. In our primary rooms teachers are now incorporating the iPads into daily instruction and independent learning times. iPads are being used as word study stations, literacy work stations, math centers, recording of puppet plays, and retelling activities. As teachers have regular access to the tools, they can begin weaving the tools into their daily instruction. I wish your staff well in this transition. Let me know if I can help in anyway.

  2. David Cryz says

    Hi Royan. We are having the same struggles but hopefully that is where BYOD will work within our board- it ends up becoming what you do with the device and not the device itself. I have had many long conversations with teachers about this issue and some see the value in it. With iPads you could use configurator to set them up so that you can prevent student work from being lost and add restrictions. As you mentioned I tell the teachers I work with to use iPads for extended periods of time. That seems to work most efficiently.

  3. says

    Right on, Royan! I have been saying this to teachers since they came out. I don’t go so far as to say a month, but I do say at least a full day… not three times a week for 40 mins. I think teachers have been used to the multi-user, computer lab environment for so long that it is a difficult mindset to break out of. A month is cool but there are schools with only 20 iPads and there are many teachers who need them for a day or half day for various tasks. I think that once BYOD really takes hold, and the shift that occurs with that, students and teachers will be in much better place.

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