Front to back?

photoI had an email from a school recently. I thought I would record my response here as it illustrates my thinking on an approach schools seem to sometimes take to technology purchases generally and ipads in particular.
The school said they were looking into purchasing some IPads for students within school and were wondering if I could offer any advice or point them in the right direction.

They were seeking answers to three specific questions at this point:

  • What IPads are being used for and how they can enhance learning?
  • Which model IPad is the most popular within other schools?
  • Are other schools using Macbooks for synching/updating etc?

I replied as follows:

I am sure you appreciate that these are *big* questions that you are asking and perhaps not the easiest to answer in an email. Having said that, I’ll do my best.

What IPads are being used for and how they can enhance learning? rtg casino canada

This is *huge*. Where do I start? Really the question could be asked more broadly about ‘technology’ and the answer would be wide and complex. In a way, it would be helpful for the school to undertake some visioning of how they want technology to integrate and support the learning experience and then consider whether ipads might be part of this. Many schools mistakenly start their thinking with the device and then on to how it might support learning. In some ways this is the wrong way round. I have a little further reading on ios considerations and deployments in school here: http://bitly.com/bundles/dughall/k but this is merely a drop in the ocean.

Which model IPad is the most popular within other schools?

Again, I wonder if this question is coming from thinking that is the right way round. What is it you want to achieve? Then ask which device will best suit the vision. Why ipad? Why not an alternative tablet? Why not Android? Windows 8? Why not netbooks? Laptops? Ipods? Why not a mixture? Again, ask yourselves: 1. What do you want to do? and then 2. What will help you do it?

Are other schools using Macbooks for synching/updating etc?

Yes. Or an iMac. There is no doubt that the deployment of large numbers of ios devices is greatly helped by having a MacOS PC (laptop or desktop).

It does worry me that some schools seem to be getting their thinking a bit ‘back to front’. Of course, for large purchases, it would be appropriate for for school governors to ask a question that I always find helpful: “What was the thinking behind this decision?” and the associated: “What alternatives were considered?” and “Does this represent the best value for money?”

 

19 thoughts on “Front to back?

  1. Thank you for this concise summary. Could you just expand on why it’s useful to have a Mabook or iMac if using iPads, please?

    • Thank you for your comment. I may be wrong, but I believe the existence of the ‘Configurator’ App for Mac makes the synching/app-deployment task simpler and I’m not sure there’s an equivalent in Windows.
      When visiting Porchester a little while ago, Simon Widdowson, said that using a Mac had made his job much easier. I am sorry, I can’t report first hand on this, only what I have come to learn from the experience of others.

      • The configurator option will only be possible using a Mac, as it is not available for Windows, however we don’t use that. My initial comment to Dughall about using Macs was simply because it was Apple (iPads) to Apple (Mac) and they were designed to work together.
        Syncing Apple products to Windows had been problematic for me in the past simply because Apple could not control 3rd party hardware / software (and even Windows updates) on Windows devices, that could lead to conflicts and issues.

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  2. Indeed a mac is needed to run apple configurator to sync devices, no apple configurator for windows. However a mac server (Mac mini running OS X server is ideal) as this then links to ACtive Directory and provides a WebDAV storw for ipad enabled apps to save to.

  3. I thought I’d offer an alternative viewpoint.

    I was told that I had to have a *Mac* to sync my 20 iPads.

    I decided to save the 500 quid & use a windows PC.

    Have had no probs-initial time consuming,set up aside (used restore from backup to sync new iPads)

    IOS is catching up fast & wifi sync option means that after set up all new apps auto sync when connected to network.

    Hope this helps and great post Dug.

    Julian @ideas_factory

  4. The most popular iPad with schools is the one with added magic learning dust… unfortunately that model, although widely believed to exist, is not yet launched. You can have the best technology in the world, if the pedagogy is wrong (or just not there at all which it appears to be in the example above), the outcome will be poor (unless you’re the vendor of the technology of course, you get paid whatever the outcome). Roll on the day when a school says: ‘we are thinking of doing more collaborative group work with our students (because we have found they don’t work together well in groups at the moment), and giving them more control over how they manage their notes and content in the classroom (because they only record things which the teacher tells them)…can you recommend possible technological solutions to this pedagogical issue’..

  5. A useful discussion through the comments and Matt, as ever , is right. We introduced tablet technology at our school to address the specific issue of developing the pupils’ consumption and browsing and so bought some cheap android machines which have served their purpose really well.
    As well as this we wanted the children to work purposefully in groups learning about common subjects through research so we bought a reciprocal reading scheme of paperback books. (The tablets support this very ably)
    It is all about defining the problem and finding the best solution. In too many cases the iPad is often the solution waiting for the problem to be defined.

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  6. Hi Dughall
    It shows the problem when your first few responses are about the tech. It is a fundamental problem in schools that they very rarely think about their vision first. They dive headlong into purchasing ( you should read some of the ICT action plans put in front of me by ICT subject leaders! Nothing about learning but all about buying ‘stuff’) and then so much of that equipment lies around in cupboards until it becomes obsolete. A couple of years ago in Hull I visited a Secondary school where I found 20 £600 visualisers in a cupboard that had been there for over 12 months. Just bought because someone said they were good. No impact!
    We must somehow get school leaders to be much better at looking at what learning they want to improve and then match the technology to that thinking as Bill has done above.
    I have been doing the ICT Mark and Naacemark before it and now the 3rd Milllennium Learning Awards and the problem is still very prevalent. If a head says to a subject leader ‘I have got £10000 to spend on ICT kit what shall we buy’ the response should be ‘Some common sense advice on how to manage budgets!’ 😉

    • So true, David! I love your final sentence but at the same time, I’m filled with despair. This is public money we are talking about here and some great opportunities are being lost and squandered. Still…

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