Our small private high school is looking to add a middle school next year and one of the enhancements is to add a 1:1 program. The first year would be about 25 6th graders and 25 7th graders with the intention of having the whole school of about 400-500 6-12 kids going 1:1 in two years.
We were looking at netbooks, but then the iPad arrived and we are heavily leaning in that direction. Price, ease of use, apps, portability, ebooks, battery life, and control being the main attractions. The lack of a real keyboard and no flash support being the potential drawbacks.
I've perused the iPod Touch in schools thread, but this a slightly different device with more emphasis on content creation and printing. Despite my newbie status, I thought it might be worthy of it's own thread.
I guess what I am looking for is opinions and insights on the best methods for restrictions, sharing files, and apps for classroom use.
Right now I'm leaning toward installing only the apps we want and locking it down as hard as possible. Wannabe Jail breakers can enjoy their time in public school. :)
Thoughts and opinions?
BTW: let's please not turn this into a Apple vs PC tablet fight. We are a 99% Windows school and I'm aware the HP Win7 Tegra based tablet is on the horizon and Google has stuff up their sleeve as well. Let's try to make this about strategies and ideas for the iPad and not a flame-fest.
It is so early in the iPad's product life I can't really comment on methods of sharing files, good apps or restrictions. But from a hardware point of view I think the iPad shows promise. The lack of ports, buttons and other moving parts makes me think the durability would be pretty good. The battery life would also easily last a classroom day.
Some problems I see is the lack of multiple user environments. I suppose you would be saving everything in the 'cloud' (Google Apps) anyways and would also be having them access email through the web. So, maybe not a big issue.
Another issue would be the app purchasing/installing process. Having to download and install on 50 iPads would be quite tediuous.
I would think that sooner rather than later Apple plans to offer a 'lab-pack' or some other education environment solutions.
Personally, I think an iPad LIKE device is the way to go. I'm not sure the limitations of the iPad favour it at this time. As Neal reports below the lack of ports, flash, multitasking [questions about this one], internal camera make me hesitate greatly. There are devices coming in the VERY near future that address these issues for roughly the same pricepoint. I want my students to be able to video conference and multitask.
I'm on the fence.
I'm looking at future devices like: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/7585703/Five-iPad-kille...
and there are more.
You eventually need to jump in on tech, but jumping in immediately during the paradigm shift is dangerous.
Agreed about the limitations. We want the students to be involved in Web 2.0, the lack of a camera is a big issue. From what I have read, multitasking will be addressed in the 4.0 update coming this fall. What about loading on pictures from a digital camera? hmmm. *I suppose all my students could just use their phone cameras and text them to their email. hehehehe*
I teach science and computers. In science I really don't see my students needed access to a full-featured OS computer all the time. A pad-like device would be more than sufficient.
Can you imagine where these slate devices, and handhelds such as iPhone will be in 4 years?? Having constant internet in my hand is still almost magical to me. =)
Oh I also tend to favour linux based systems. An android product are the ones I'm most interested in. Android products are going to share the same 'apps' like programming ability that makes ipods and ipads so popular. Of course we have to see if this will truly develop. I suspect it will.
Apple will soon address this issue with the iScan and iCopy, two devices that will be rumored for a decade, but promoted by every news organization in the world and be on the cover of Newsweek and Time in the same week.
btw, huge Apple fan, but the amount of free publicity wouldn't be in a marketing person's wildest dreams.
I think you need to focus more on the role of the device. I have used PC's, tablets, macbooks and itouch's with students in one to one settings. They all have a role, as does the ipad but I think you need to think carefully about the type of content creation you want to do and if the ipad will enable the students to be more creative and offer more opportunities than other alternatives.
My thoughts are that it is too early in the evolution of the device to commit a school to using it. Podcasting, movie creating, blogging, wikis are all easier using a computer. The ipad seems to me to more of a content delivery device. Yes it does have pages, but compare using a word processor on a computer with a keyboard, shortcuts, mouse and I think you'll find that students will be far more efficient on computers. Then you add in web cams, multitasking, taking notes, resizing pictures, editing pictures, flash and so forth and a computer whether it is mac, linux or a PC will begin to show up a device like the ipad.
I too enjoy having constant internet in my hands with all my devices, but it is mainly with a computer that I am truly creative. I don't see the ipad enabling that any more than a computer or bringing anything new.. yet.
I agree with Andy - the ipads are not good enough for creativity or content creation. Especially at this early stage, it's really unclear how they will behave in a school environment. Also, if you are planning to use Google apps, there is a 13 year old age requirement, so some of your younger students will be using that "illegally."
But It sounds like you've made your mind up about getting ipads. In that case I would strongly recommend you provide some real computers for the students to do creative stuff - high powered work stations loaded up with movie making, music composition, animation, and graphics software. If you just have a few stations, you can splurge on power and good software.
Finally, I would encourage you to allow your students to help you plan, implement, and support your 1:1 program. 1:1 is about putting power into student hands, and having them feel ownership not just for a "device" but for the whole vision of using technology to improve education. Why not let students pick some of the apps they want to be loaded on the machines? Even some simple outreach to make this a student-centered project will help.
You may find that one-sided decisions such as locking down your devices may seem practical, but will seem to students like a challenge. I think you could instead bring students on your side as allies and advocates for using the ipads well. Students may in fact support the decision to lock down the devices, and if they do, then you will have deeper support for your decision instead of playing whack-a-mole with students. But if they aren't brought into the process at all, it's going to be tougher road for you in the long run.
I hate to be a downer, but I agree with Andy and Sylvia. I'm a HUGE Apple geek, but although the iPads have the "cool" factor, I think that will wear off soon, and you'll be left with a first-generation tool that doesn't really meet all your needs. I think history will see iPads as a stepping stone to more functional tools, like the Courier, which is supposedly coming out at the end of 2010.
Saugus USD found a great way to go 1:1 with netbooks running free Ubuntu software. It worked so well, we're emulating their program. (This is a shock to a lot of my co-workers, who thought I'd be all over the iPad. But it just doesn't allow the robust content creation that Ubuntu netbooks provide.) I wrote a how-to blog post, if you're interested.
Thanks for all the good advice. I'm really a PC guy and it's weird trying to justify an Apple product. Interestingly, many of these objections could be also applied to the intriguing iPod Touch programs that attracted me to this site.
Part of my problem is time. We use need to have devices in the hands of teachers to develop lessons this summer. HP, Microsoft and Google are still prepping their responses and Atom powered netbooks are currently plan b.
The iPad is a great device with many small flaws. At this point it's really a question of if those small flaws overwhelm the positives.
I wanted to respond so that it did not look like a post and run, but I don't have the time to describe my planned work around in more detail. For example I may be able to set this up to print or go paperless for writing assignments.