Saturday, December 21, 2013

Reflection On EPSB EdTech Tablets in Schools Session

Managing school sets of iPads & Android Tablets

So I went to the session on managing iPads and tablets because was not just about iPads, which so much of the discussion about tablets in education is often about. However, I was the only user that did not have iPads. So I did not find any solutions to my Android tablet woes but I did come away with some ideas, mostly from Randy Lyseng. Many of his ideas apply to any tablet device.

Good Reminders

  • schools tablets do not work the same as our personal tablets
    • The example given was ask someone to use their tablet for a day. They are like our smartphones, they are personalized devices with personal information. That is very different than a device shared among many users. 
  • tablets in schools are rarely 1:1
  • they need to be supervised devices
  • no matter the device, you cannot purchase apps easily



Things to Consider Before Use

The message that stood out for me was: protect your investment

  • buy cases
  • consider screen protectors 
  • possibly re-purpose an old laptop cart for storage
  • store securely
  • label devices
  • bar code devices

Start Small

The messages that Randy gave around starting small really apply mostly to iPads but there are some ideas that relate to Android tablets that are used in EPSB. 


  • iPad:  start with one page of apps and organize into folders.
    • Android: for the amount of time and energy involved with Android apps I would say even start smaller, maybe start with a handful of apps, no folders. 
  • iPad: be picky about the apps you buy, pick apps that will provide the biggest bang for your buck.
    •  Android: at the moment in EPSB spending money on apps on the Android tablets is financially unmanageable when multiple users are involved.
  • iPad: encourage student to same apps at home by having an App of the Week.
    • Android: being an Android school, it would be best to have ones that exist on both platforms, for while we have Android tablets at school, likely  many students will have Apple devices at home.

Have a Plan

Think about how the tablets will be used. Do not only consider general classroom use but also how they can be used for intervention or enrichment.

Consider your special needs and English language learner students and consult with ILS consultants. When thinking about using tablets with special needs students, he suggested using SETT: student first, then environment, then the task and finally the tool. You do not start with the tool and work from there.



Management

When deploying tablets at your school, have one person or team to manage them.  The lead technology teacher should work together with the ITS analyst. 


Final Thoughts

I would argue these are things to consider not just before using tablets in schools but before buying them. Often people see how useful and easy to use these devices are in a home/personalized setting which is not the same in a school setting. 

I would also argue look at how much the devices cost to purchase and include in that total the tablet covers, apps, (and in the case of iPads the laptop to configure them all), etc. I think that in some cases that tablet will still be the tool the makes the most sense but I think in many cases other technologies are better choices at this point in time.