DAILY INSIGHT: Top 10 things NOT to do in a 1:1 iPad Initiative, Part 1

Read this before rolling out iPads or other district-wide initiatives.
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By Carl Hooker, CIO Advisor

Part of the benefit of jumping forward with a 1:1 iPad deployment like we have tried is that we get the opportunity to impart knowledge to other districts looking to do a similar initiative. While that might not seem like a benefit, it actually also means we can make some mistakes because there is not a long history of this type of deployment in the world. Many districts have had 1:1 laptop projects, which we have benefitted from and could easily be applied to this list I’m about to share. However, for the sake of our specific district and the questions I get from other districts on a daily basis, I’m going to break down the 10 things you SHOULD NOT do when implementing a 1:1 iPad program.

1. Do NOT wait until the last minute to give them to staff.
Due to the timing of our bond package and when funds could become available, we didn’t actually have iPads in hand and branded until mid-July. That means many teachers only got to experience the iPads in their hands for one month or less. Not ideal when trying to make your staff comfortable. In a perfect world they could have had them a year to a semester ahead of time. Or at least before the summer started.

2. Do NOT expect it to go perfectly on the first day students get them.
We planned the launch day as perfectly as we could have, but there are always a couple of issues to deal with. We had iPad cases held up in customs at DFW airport, so we had to fill a last-minute order of 1,500 cases the night before. We crashed our Casper server three hours into the first day as hundreds of kids were downloading their apps at the same time. Both of those issues are fixable, but you can’t always anticipate those things during planning.

3. Do NOT roll out all your apps at the same time on the same day
See item #2 above. If you are doing a 1:1 model like ours, where the end user gets the apps, you don’t want to force-feed all your apps down on the same day. This is especially true with larger apps like Garageband, which we left off the initial day list and released it on the weekend, when kids could download it from their own bandwidth at home. This spreads the downloads out over time so you don’t have 1,500 kids downloading a 1.7 GB app during third period.

4. Do NOT try and control everything about the iPad.
There are several models out there for deployment of apps: a personal model, an institutional model, and a layered model being the most common. The beauty and educational relevance of these devices is the personalization of the learning that can happen. That is null and void the second you turn this into just another “system” to manage through your technology department. These are NOT PCs. Do NOT try and manage them as such. You destroy the value-add by doing that. Because of age restrictions with Apple IDs, you can only have students 13+ manage those accounts. I encourage you to do that (this is the personal model). Students under 13, you’re likely to be forced to use some version of the other two models. In the personal model, the worst thing that can happen is they walk away with an app like Keynote. God forbid they actually want to use an educational tool to make presentations after they graduate.

5. Do NOT expect teaching to change immediately.
I have long been preaching the SAMR model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura as how teaching should progress in a 1:1 (or any) environment. Apple has also relied heavily on this model and I figure they know what they are talking about. Teachers can’t be expected to change the way they teach overnight. However, most of the tools we’ve given them in the past (SMARTBoards, document cameras, etc.) were teaching tools. This tool is in the hands of kids, which means it’s student-driven. Teachers and students will lean heavily on substitution in the SAMR model to start, but have patience. Redefinition of teaching and learning does NOT happen overnight.

To be continued in my next blog...

Carl Hooker is director of instructional technology at Eanes ISD in Texas and blogs at Hooked on Innovation