Sunday, 17 June 2012

iPad Deployment - Week Two

Our I.T. guy, Richard, has fixed our wi-fi network issues so we now don’t have to log back in with username and password after the iPads go to sleep.  Yay!

Drop-in iPad Meeting

We had another successful drop-in iPad meeting.  Four teachers turned up and they were a mixture of those who needed further help with the basics and those who had sped ahead and were asking difficult questions!  Either way I was really happy they chose to come.  Things we covered were:

  • Putting files into folders
  • Setting the orientation lock
  • Changing wi-fi settings (the fix to our log-on issues)
  • How to do updates
  • Finding apps in the App Store

All of these things were on our FAQ document but I know some people find the personal touch better.

I also showed one of the teachers the Show Me app and later emailed her this blog post from Jacqui Sharp which demonstrates what teachers can do with it.

The question of email came up.  We haven’t set up a class email for the iPads.  One idea was that teachers download the Google Search app and log in and out of their accounts when needed.  This could be cumbersome, I guess it depends on how often they will need to email.  Also, I have had issues with not being able to use Google Search to email the Book Creator app and I wonder if there may be problems with other apps too.  I see that you can hide your iPad mail account so this may be another way to handle mail.  I think the safest and easiest way may be to set up class emails.

Volume Purchase Program

I found out via twitter this week that the Volume Purchase Program is ‘coming soon’ to New Zealand.  I’m not sure what this will mean for us but in the meantime I guess we just have to keep going as we are.

Things We Need to Work On

  • We haven’t worked out why the videos we take won’t play on Apple TV.  I tried them out at home, and they worked fine, so the problem appears to be tied up with the network.
  • Can we access files on our network?  Some of the teachers at our drop-in meeting asked if they could access particular items from our network.  I am a fan of the Virtual Learning Network and have found a reference to the Files Connect app here, which sounds like it might fit the bill.  Another thing to bring up with Richard.
  • What is the best way to transfer photos?  Our head of e-learning and I tried the Bump app and I know that there is also a Photo Transfer app, Files Connect, emailing and Photo Stream.  I guess the only way to know is try a few and see if they meet our needs.
  • Richard is working on being able to print from the iPads and hopefully this will be in place soon.  He is using a program called Paper Cut.

I feel like my lack of knowledge was highlighted this week (in my defence I'm not an I.T. person, I'm a librarian who simply volunteered to help).  I’ve had an iPad since November but a lot of the things I need to know now are related to managing multiple iPads.  Richard comes in for four hours on Mondays so I have a barrage of questions for him and will keep on learning.  I am finding the new challenges exciting.

Welcome to Life

I love this video!  At less than 3 minutes it won't take long to have a look and tell me what you think.  I love the three tiers and also the reference to copyright.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Our Deployment of 90 iPads


I was involved with the technical support side of the deployment.  With advice from our principal I came up with a set of instructions for the teachers to follow to set up the iPads and add some restrictions.  I tested them on someone completely new to iPads and realised I needed to add a picture of the iPad to show where the buttons are, after all their position changes depending on how you pick it up.  I also added images of the Settings and App Store icons so they could easily be found.

iPad Party!

On Tuesday we had an iPad party for all of our teachers.  Our principal, a very enthusiastic iPad user, talked about why we were using iPads (engaging for our children, clear links to learning, flexible, portable, personalised and fun).

Each teacher (and me in the library) was given four iPads, an Apple TV and a $50 iTunes gift card.

We asked the teachers to bring their laptops to the iPad party so that they could verify their Apple IDs.  They set up all four iPads before loading any apps.  This was so they could download apps to one iPad and have them automatically download to the other three iPads (do this by going to Settings, Store, and swiping apps on).  There is a bit of a lag when this happens but it was successful.  It avoided the necessity of having to sync to iTunes, making the set up simpler. 

I know there is a lot of discussion about schools syncing multiple devices to one Apple ID.  We took comfort in this email posted by a NZ educator who confirmed the situation with an iTunes employee.

Challenges with the Set Up

There were a few hiccups – existing Apple IDs with forgotten passwords and incorrectly redeemed iTunes gift cards were the main problems.  It is disappointing that if you redeem the gift cards incorrectly it doesn't give an error message, instead it tries to get payment information from you when you want to purchase an app.  The key is to watch for a message advising the amount of money you have just added to your account, then you know you have done the process properly.

Extra Help

We held drop in sessions for the following two afternoons and will have one more this Wednesday.  Teachers were encouraged to take the iPads home to have a play and a substantial number of them were using the iPads the following day.  There was a positive buzz in the staffroom as teachers swapped notes.  This weekend some of the teacher aides have taken iPads home to have a look too.

We have created a frequently-asked questions Google doc where teachers can share iPad tips and have their questions answered.  Currently this has information on updating apps and software, app selection sites and keyboard tips.

Teacher Responsibilites

Each teacher is responsible for charging and looking after their iPads.  There is no centralised computer that they need to sync with.

Benefits of School-Wide Deployment

In my opinion the choice to deploy across the whole school at once was a good one.  Obviously we had the finances to be able to do so but what it has meant is that there are lots of ideas and discussions happening and everyone can join in.  The teachers are learning and supporting each other.  The allocation of individual iTunes gift cards means teachers have control over the apps on their iPads.  A list of suggested apps was given but the remainder of money is up to the teachers to spend.

I went to an iPad conference recently and watched as two teachers struggled to download a suggested app because they didn’t have the appropriate password.  This was very frustrating and demoralising for them and I’m glad we have avoided that.

Community Involvement

Back in early May we advised parents via newsletter that iPads would be coming to the classroom.  Another newsletter put out on Thursday talked about the iPad party and the introduction of iPads into classrooms. It also mentioned a deal that has been arranged with Noel Leeming for families who wish to use the same technology at home.  The apps that were selected were put on the school website for parents to see.  An expo that is planned for later this year was also described as a way to see the iPads in action.

Apple TVs

I’ve been busy setting up the Apple TVs and showing teachers how to use AirPlay (fortunately all the TVs bar one have HDMI slots).  The teachers are really happy that they can mirror their iPad to their TV without having to set up any cables like they do for their PCs.  This will be a great way for them to share book apps and also to explain to their class how to use particular apps.

Technical Issues

We had a wireless upgrade before the iPads were introduced.  The biggest problem is that the Wi-Fi network that was set up requires you to log back in every time the iPads go to sleep.  We have passed this on to our I.T. guru and hope to get it fixed soon.  We also want him to find out why the videos we record do not play on Apple TV.

Some issues we have managed to fix for ourselves:

  • AirPlay button is missing – this happens when the Wi-Fi isn’t connected
  • Some apps are greyed out so you can’t purchase them – this is because of the restrictions we set up.  The apps must have some content that is not suitable for children.

Overall I would say that it has been an excellent first week with the iPads.  I will keep you informed as we move forward.