iPads Are Coming

When we open our doors in August this year, our school will be equipped with several new sets of iPads.    I have been reading about how other schools have handled the integration of iPads and I couldn’t be more excited about bringing these new tools to our students.  The many apps available for the iPad will create an easy way for our JK through 12th graders to practice 21st century skills. I am hoping they will use these apps for a wide variety of projects including digital story telling and communicating through such platforms as Edmodo, blogs, and ePals.

The introduction of iPads does not come without its challenges.  We are looking for ways that students and teachers can save, share, and print their work.  While I am happy to have classes go paperless, it seems some teachers are not.  The options for saving and sharing are not standard from across apps.  The most common methods are:

1. Within the app itself.  This would be fine if we were working with a 1:1 iPad program, but we are not.  The iPads will be shared across the campus.  This means that students will need to work on the same iPad each time if their project can’t be finished in one class period.

2) Email to themselves or the teachers.   This will  work as long as the student can access our wifi.  The students already use this method of sharing their work to the school network when they email their work from home.  I am hoping all teachers will be ready to accept work handed in this way.

3) Uploading to DropBox.  This is an option we are still working on.  How can we create a DropBox account that all students can upload to from the iPads and all  teachers can access?  Will students need to/ want to  upload documents to DropBox and then want to download them to continue work?  Will we only allow them to upload finished work?  How can we create folders to sort work so that the DropBox is organized?  How will students know which folder work in?  In testing the DropBox experience, I am finding that while many apps allow an upload wwork to DropBox, downloading it to view  the work could be a difficult experience.  Example:  The My Story app creates ePub files.  They can be uploaaded to DropBox, but in downloading (to a PC,  at least) they require an ePub reader such as the ones mentioned at this link (http://www.techkaki.com/2011/05/how-to-open-epub-files/ ) and even then the sound files are lost.  How will teachers assess such projects?  Will they need to check each iPad or will they need to use such apps without the option of grading the student product?

4) To the app’s website.  In this case, an account needs to be set up on the app website and the student will need to log in to that account to upload their work there.  Who will set up and host the accounts?  Will individual teachers host these accounts or will there be one general account for each app with this feature?  How will we set the privacy settings on each of these sites to ensure student security?  Will student names be attached to these files?

5) Uploading to Facebook and Twitter is often an option within iPad apps.  At this point, these options will not be offered to students or teachers.

In preparation I am offereing some teacher training this summer.  Below are some of the websites I will be encouraging teachers to explore:

summer. http://www.techchef4u.com/ http://app-a-day.wikispaces.com/ https://sites.google.com/site/initialipadsetup/home http://ipadbackpack.wikispaces.com/ http://www.schrockguide.net/ipads-in-the-classroom.html http://ipadschools.wikispaces.com/ http://stevebfw.wikispaces.com/iPad+Apps+BFW http://www.scoop.it/t/the-ipad-classroom http://learninginhand.com/blog/ . In preparation, training will be offered to the teachers this summer. In preparation, training will be offered to the teachers this summer. In preparation, training will be offered to the teachers this summer

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