Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Using iPads in the Classroom

Having a cart of 30 iPads for my classroom should be awesome, right? I know it should; however, I've been very overwhelmed being the teacher who was selected to roll out iPad use in the classrooms at my new school.

My first challenge has come in the form of technology management. In addition to being given the iPads I also have been given a majority of the responsibility for their upkeep: read that to mean I do all the charging, syncing and updates of the 30 iPads to the best that I can. I have an additional laptop that is specifically setup as the hub for our cart, but the initial set-up and subsequent sync attempts have not gone well. Even though I'm trying to use the same profile for each iPad, I have often having to restore the iPads from their original factory settings to successfully sync them, and things such as which apps sync and the pages on which those apps appear need to be reset for each individual iPad. I've checked here, but I'm wondering if anybody has found any other tricks that work to solve some of these issues.

Another challenge is sorting through the massive amount of information available to me. There are tremendous resources, like those that Cybraryman provides, blog posts from teachers who are doing the same thing I am, and list upon list (take another look at Cybraryman's page) of the best education apps for iPads. I feel a great responsibility to NOT waste the district's money on apps that will not be effective tools for our students, but most don't have a true preview available before purchase. Not that I don't trust everybody's thoughts and suggestions, but it would really be nice to try out these apps before purchasing them. Is there a resource that you have found that really helps you select effective apps?

A third challenge, and perhaps this is just me being too hard on myself, is how I want to use the iPads. I don't just want them to be a glorified worksheet. During my searches today I found this article that really speaks to how I'm feeling. If I'm going to use iPads with my students I want the use to be meaningful. But where I'm at in the roll out, are practice type apps meaningful? Until my students and I get used to using the iPads is trying to do more impractical? I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Our goal is to roll these wonderful tools out for the rest of the school in January, and I worry that if I feel overwhelmed other teachers will, too. Perhaps my struggles are more about me trying to roll out these iPads perfectly when that truly is impossible. Maybe I should just let everybody else have a shot at them and see what happens.

What do you think? What tips or suggestions do you have for me?

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