Thursday, December 1, 2011

iP@ds in my classroom - Update 1 #Edchat #EdTech #Education

Here is the first of many updates on how the iPads are being used in my classroom.

The students were finally able to get their hands on the iPads on Monday (November 28). The first day was spent mostly on the ins and outs of how the iPads were to be used. I showed some of the basic features of the iPad and let them take them for a spin. They were excited to see what they could do and spent time taking pictures and playing around with the free apps.

I showed them how to log into Dropbox and Evernote and how to log off those apps as well. Since these are shared devices, it's important that the apps used allow for user sign in and sign out. I reminded the kids to log off any students that forget to do so and see me if there are any notifications that pop up. The kids were excited and we did not have any major problems on the first day.

The next day, the kids were diving deep into their project (Creating a Transcendentalist Society) and started to encounter some problems using Dropbox. Dropbox allows user to upload video and photos to their account using the app. However, the app needs permission to find your location to do so. All of the settings were set to prevent new apps from using location services. I had to convince my IT guy to give me the restrictions password so I can trouble shoot issues like this. It's important for the pilot teacher to have access to the restrictions password to solve these little problems. It took me a chunk of time, but I was able to fix all of those problems for Dropbox and future apps.

The next issue that came to light was the lack of email. We did not have email addresses linked to the iPad accounts and it quickly became apparent that without email, the iPads were not effective at sharing information quickly. I convinced my IT guys to put the same email account on the iPads and we hope to block the incoming mail to the account. Now, my students can quickly share their notes from their Notes app, photos, video and Evernote. Email accounts are necessary to quickly and easily share information. 

I spent the first week creating a system for where the apps go on each iPad. The most common apps were placed on the front page, apps that were more Language Arts were on the second page and the last page will be all Science (I'm piloting with a Chemistry and Biology teacher). Breaking up the apps this way will allow the kids to find what they need quickly. I also showed them the search feature in case they can't find the app right away. App organization might take time to set up, but it will save the student time in the long run. 

I'm still waiting for the grant money to come in so I can buy the apps that I really need. The free ones are good for now, but my kids want to do serious photo and video editing and the free apps do not provide the umph they need. Try and wait to roll out the iPads until you have all of the apps you need. 

The kids still have all of next week to work on the project and I have not had any problems with the usage. I've actually heard students tell others to stay on task with the iPad. That made me smile.

I'll be keeping regular updates on my site on the apps I use, the policies put in place and anything else that comes up regarding the iPad pilot.

Have a great day!

- @TheNerdyTeacher