A brief update on our iPad situation
As the title suggest this is a brief update on our work in St Corban’s. Brief because there isn’t a whole lot for me to share! We haven’t yet ordered our iPads. At the moment I’m checking out a few vendors and trying to decide on what models to go for and what charging and syncing station we will need. Has anyone got any advice for me here?
I’m also trying to keep in mind that using iPads in a classroom is far from an end in itself. One only has to look at the experience of schools in Los Angeles to realise that any sort of technology rollout has to be carefully planned. The number one priority in my eyes has to be teacher professional development. There is no point in bringing in a new piece of technology to a school if the teachers haven’t been consulted and trained prior to the shiny new devices landing on their students’ desks.
As such, as well as ordering iPads soon (hopefully!) I’ll also be working with my work colleagues to make sure we’re all on board with how and why we’re going to use them. Luckily I’ve trained with PDST Technology in Education to deliver their Using Tablets and Online Tools for Literacy and Numeracy course so I can draw from this when working with my colleagues.
On a side note I hope to also introduce Google Apps to school this year. This would be for staff initially to allow us to communicate more efficiently as well as use online storage to share plans.
So, a brief update but hopefully I’ll have more to share as the year goes on.
This is just another quick update on our iPad situation. Apple went and announced their new iPad Air when we were trying to finalise a list of what we wanted so we’ve had to change our mind a little bit. Thankfully they’re keeping the trusty old iPad2 on the go and this is the device we’ll be opting for. After that we need to decide on cases and a trolley but I hope to have more news and hopefully some actual devices very soon!
In the meantime I’ve been thinking about apps we’ll be using and I’ve also been delivering round two of the PDST Technology in Education course on the use of iPads to teachers in Kildare Education Centre. This course provides excellent recommendations on not just apps but also how to utilise iPads in active learning, an important methodology in the primary curriculum.
Hopefully there will be no more major changes to our plans!
iPads and Google Apps Rollout
We recently took delivery of 16 iPad 2 devices, a Macbook Pro to manage them, a “Lock’n’Charge” trolley to store, charge, sync and transport the devices and an AirPort Extreme wireless router. I am currently in the process of adding apps to the iPads and next week will see them in the hands of students for the first time. We had a brief introductory session as part of our staff meeting yesterday where I showed the staff how to use some basic functions of the iPads and how to remove them from the trolley and replace them safely. As time goes on we will have further sessions to share ideas around the use of the devices in our classrooms.
From a management point of view, the overall set up has been hassle free. The company we purchased the devices from sent an engineer to our school to perform the initial set up. This included installing iOS7 on all the iPads (they shipped with iOS6), setting up the Macbook Pro to sync with the iPads, setting up the AirPort Extreme and running through everything with me at the end. This was invaluable as there were certain things I just wouldn’t have thought of had I decided to do the set up myself. The company have worked with a lot of schools on iPad installations so they have gained experience with what to do and, possibly more importantly, what not to do.
We also spent time on Monday looking at Google Apps. I have set up our teaching staff with accounts so far and initially we will just be using email to communicate. This is something that hasn’t happened often in our school to date so we’re hoping it can improve overall communication. As time goes on we will explore the use of Google Drive and I hope ultimately to introduce student accounts.
That’s it for now, I’ll update further as the year goes on.
End Of Year Targets
With our iPads well up and running, and our netbooks in more regular use, we hope by the end of the year.
- to analyse what classes have been using the devices
- to analyse what subject areas are being covered using the devices
- to establish what CPD will be required for our staff to move forward
- to establish if any further purchases are possible ahead of next year
Our students are thoroughly enjoying using the iPads and they are being put to great use in a number of classes. The aim for next year is that every class in the school will use them on a regular basis.
A New Year Begins
Happy new (academic) year!
The 2014/2015 school year is up and running and the summer holidays feel like a million years ago. I’m in a new setting this year, working as part of my school’s SEN team for the first time. It has been an eye-opener so far and the work is due to ramp up over the next few weeks so it should prove interesting. I’ll also be heading into my second year in DCU so all in all I’ll be kept busy!
As I mentioned in earlier blog posts, as well as introducing iPads to the school we also rolled out Google Apps for our teachers. We focussed on using email for communication initially. This past summer I spent some time playing around with Google Drive. I’ve set up a folder within my Drive that is now shared with all teachers. At our last staff meeting I showed teachers how to access it and upload their own plans and resources. My hope is that over the years to come we’ll build up a substantial bank of material, all freely available to staff members via any device they use. And best of all, it’s free!
I’ll be taking a sixth class maths group this year and I hope to use our school’s ICT resources quite a bit with them. I’m planning some Scratch sessions, and I’ve identified a few apps I’ll use on the iPads with them… more on that in a future post! I also plan to use a few good literacy and numeracy apps with most of the students I’ll be working with.