Learning 2.011 Takeaways Part 2 – iPad Implementation

27 Sep 2011

This is the second of three blog posts about my experience at the Learning 2.0 conference.

A very informative session I attended was on the implementation of iPads. The presenter, Sheldon Bradshaw from Western Academy in Beijing had recently implemented iPads into the school and was sharing with us some of what he learned throughout this process.

His recommendation on iPad covers was to weigh the cost of the cover versus the cost of the iPad. Some of the best covers cost close $100 (otterbox.com & goballisticcase.com), meaning that with a class set of 20 iPads, the cases could add another $2000 to the purchase, or in other terms, take three iPads out of students’ hands. His suggestion was to find something reasonably priced, that when closed covers the entire iPad.

His suggestion on carts was that a homemade solution is going to be more cost effective without losing functionality. Some of the carts can cost $1000. His school built one for a little over $100 that works well.

Syncing and charging has brought some challenges to his school. Apple did not follow international USB standards, meaning standard USB hubs will not both charge and sync the iPads. WAB chose not to buy expensive charge & sync ports, but to use two processes. The have USB strips on the cart to charge and bought an extra set of cables to sync (with D-Link 7-port powered hubs). They only sync every couple of weeks. When OS 5 comes out there will be wireless syncing, so this might not be an issue very soon.

App purchases are a challenge for WAB to do legally. Apple does not have volume licensing internationally and in China the app store is very different from the US app store, and does not carry all of the apps they need, or at least does not carry the English version of the app. The way they resolved this was by having someone who was traveling to the US purchase iTunes Store gift certificates for the budgeted amount. Then they set up a “master” iTunes account for the school that they used to make the purchases and sync the iPads. They also set up a sub-accounts for each iPad, to legally purchase one license for each iPad. The master account “gifts” money to the sub-accounts to purchase the necessary apps.

Another topic of discussion was app evaluation. He recommended that the school come up with some type of process for making the decisions on the purchases, including who decides, what criteria is used for evaluating an app, how to track what has been tested, collection of information, and how to keep track of what apps are purchased and what version of the app is on the iPads. Sheldon also recommended these two sites for iPad app reviews: iear.org and momswithapps.com. He said to remember to focus on purpose. Don’t get caught up in the hype. These are the apps WAB uses. More detailed notes from this session by Wes Fryer.

You might be interested in my post on teachers’ favorite iPad apps.