iPad open house – lessons learned

This is the slidedeck I recently presented to Northwest area educators and IT directors at Seattle’s first iPad Open House, hosted by the Westside School.

The topic was “10 months into a 1-to-1 iPad deployment: lessons learned.” Main take-aways:

3 things we did right

  1. Scaffold for teachers – devices into teacher hands early in the summer. Professional development early in the summer. Regular check-ins to discuss discoveries and obstacles.
  2. Scaffold for students – started the year with no iPads. Conversations around the purpose and benefits of technology. Worked up to single-class use of iPads, then multiple periods, then all-day, and finally students took ownership of the iPads and they move freely between school and home.
  3. Scheduled reflections – students create e-portfolios that demonstrate learning at the end of each term. They use iPads to organize and present their reflections to peers, teachers and the parent community. Students also participate in periodic technology surveys that focus on using devices as a learning tool.

5 things we learned the hard way

  1. Evolving curriculum – middle school is 1-to-1, lower school uses a cart-based system. Teachers will be required to re-envision curriculum every year as upcoming students have a greater fluency with devices in a learning environment. (This is a good problem.)
  2. Device dependence – All students are under 13 so we have not asked them to create any cloud-based accounts. Content is typically locked in the iPad without using Dropbox, YouTube, etc to move files. Apple doesn’t have a great solution for this yet and email is less than ideal for the amount of video, music, photo content that students are generating.
  3. Version control – Google Docs isn’t ready for prime-time on the iPads. This leaves students emailing content back and forth to teachers, and thus ending up with multiple versions of the same document to manage. iPads don’t really have a “file structure” so past lessons on folder organization don’t apply.
  4. Technical support – Apple tech support are super nice people who don’t have solutions for most of the issues facing school deployments. Apple tech typically suggests iCloud or OSX Server, both of which perpetuate the brand lock-in and don’t solve issues. Many school IT consultants are running Windows-based systems and aren’t staffed with Apple experts, let alone iPad experts.
  5. Cleaning schedule – regular time set aside for physically cleaning each device is necessary. Same goes for the files in the devices too – iMovie projects take up tons of space even if you’ve already exported the final version.

2 thoughts on “iPad open house – lessons learned

  1. This is a super helpful summary that we’ll be sharing with our educator community at Common Sense Media. We’re a nonprofit that offers a free digital literacy and citizenship curriculum that 1:1 schools have told us is really helpful in on-boarding students and parents who are facing increased tech access and opportunity at school and home.

    We posted an article to our blog recently about Jeff Mao and his 1:1 leadership in Maine, and how they’ve partnered with Common Sense to make it more successful.

    Ahead of The Curve: In Maine, Educators Say, 1:1 Laptops Must Come With Training in Digital Ethics

  2. This is a great overall idea. my brother is a newly minted teacher and is considered a hero for using technology!

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