Editor's Note: Special thanks to Springfield Public Schools Director of Instructional Technology Sharon Nagy-Johnson for compiling the data information utilized in this article. It was a significant contribution to the development of this article.
Seven Things to Consider
When Implementing Your iPad Deployment
iPads are transforming a shift in the learning paradigm. Students of all ages are reading, interacting, and publishing their own content using increasingly ubiquitous resources of educational apps. It’s no wonder schools are eager to put these devices in the hands of learners.
There are many ways districts have gone about planning and deploying iPads. Stakeholder conversations and decisions must first be made regarding the number of iPads, who will receive them, how accounts will be managed, and whether or not they will be permitted to be taken home. Springfield Public schools has deployed over 400 iPads. There are at least four in each elementary classroom and additional as requested through teacher proposals. Teachers share them as needed to accommodate particular lessons. Students under the age of 13 do not take them home. Below is a list of several things we considered when planning our implementation.
- Assess Wi-Fi coverage, density of devices, network security, filtering, etc.
- Confirm that the necessary firewall ports are opened
2. Mobile Device Management (MDM)
- Determine profiles and restrictions
- Configure profiles
- Enroll and install profiles and policies on a few devices for testing
- Enroll devices
- Install profiles and policies
- Periodically review management settings
3. Volume Purchase Program (VPP) www.apple.com/education/volume-purchase-program/
- The VPP is a separate store with special pricing for purchase of 20 apps or more https://volume.itunes.apple.com/us/store/
- Identify a Program Managers (PM) to enroll your district into the VPP and create the Program Facilitator (PF) accounts. The PM will need an Apple ID. It is recommended to use a generic Apple ID specific to the PM position without the name of a person.
- Identify Program Facilitators (PFs) to login to the VPP and make purchases. Each PF will need an Apple ID. It is recommended to use a generic Apple ID specific to the PF position without the name of a person.
- The email addresses for Apple IDs should be controlled by the district and not tied to a specific person.
- Volume vouchers are like iTunes gift cards in denominations of $100, $500, $1000, $5000, and $10,000. Once purchased, they can only be used in the VPP store (not the regular iTunes Store).
- After a volume purchase is made, codes are generated and redeemed to download the apps.
4. Apple IDs
- Apple IDs are extremely important and require careful planning and forward thinking before setting-up. Apple IDs are used for just about everything Apple offers so it is essential that the structure for which they are to be created and used in the district are planned ahead. http://www.apple.com/support/appleid/basics/
Springfield Public Schools maintains all district Apple IDs and passwords are not shared with staff. Students and staff are not permitted to login using their own Apple ID.
5. App Selection
- Determine the process for which new apps are requested, approved, and installed.
- Know that some paid apps are offered for free during promotional periods. There are sites and apps that monitor these limited time offerings.
Before the iPads arrived in Springfield Public Schools, teachers and administrators recommended apps to be preinstalled. These apps were vetted and categorized. A web-based form is used to submit additional requests. Requests include a description of the app, what is different about the app compared to those already installed, and instructional plans. Content area supervisors and administrators review, vet, and approve the apps before they are installed.
6. Professional Development
Professional development goes hand-in-hand with implementation at Springfield Public Schools. It is ongoing, teacher-driven, in-class assisted, and collaborative with a clear focus on improving teaching and learning. During the initial stages of implementation, staff members worked together in groups to evaluate and tag the apps on our district professional development Ning (a closed social network used for professional learning and dialogue).
- Don’t forget the protective covers.
- Consider accessories such as VGA adapters and wireless mirroring solutions.
- Designate a secure area for asset tagging and inventorying.
- Have your Apple IDs and MDM established.
- Familiarize yourself with AppleCare services (www.apple.com/support/products/ipad.html).
- Prepare the Acceptable Use Policy.
Be ready for problems that may emerge regarding theft and recovery, cracked screens, inaccessible applications and materials due to technical limitations, filtering security, new regulatory privacy rights, etc. It takes a great deal of diligence on the part of school personnel to monitor the use, especially at the upper grade levels and with those permitted to be taken home.
Springfield Public Schools, a 1:1 Apple distinguished program, is seriously considering eliminating textbooks and implementing iPad minis, in addition to the laptops, for each student in grades 6-12. Although iPads will be an invaluable consumption tool for replacing textbooks, the laptop is still considered an irreplaceable creation tool for upper grade levels where the iPad does not suffice for certain highly technical computer applications and browsers. Moving towards a 1:1:1 program (a laptop and iPad for every middle and high school student) may present certain mitigating factors and potential risks. If the learning venture is promising, the hazards are ultimately surmountable.