Monday 30 May 2011

Five ways to get iPads for your classroom

I have had many people ask me what I did to be able to get a classroom set of Apple's newest tech gadget: the iPad. How did I do it? If you want to hear about what the project will involve, check my previous blog post.

The big reason I was able to get 30 iPads (along with other complementary equipment) for a pilot project approved in an era of declining school funding are:
  1. I am passionate about school technology and have been an early adopter of using computers and technology in my classroom; from projectors to Smartboards, to clickers. And, I have always been trying new Web2.0 tools with my students.
  2. I have been a technology leader and advocate at my school.
  3. My principal caught the vision for what I wanted to do with iPads in the least to some extent at first. I convinced him and he became an advocate to the school board.
  4. I put together a very detailed plan and analysis for the project using the Bates and Poole SECTIONS model that I submitted to administration (copy below).
  5. I did not give up and take no for an answer. I was tenacious.
I have always been interested in technology and getting students using technology for projects in the classroom. Before I was a teacher I was a computer sales person and technician; so I was really comfortable around technology. I am also currently working on my Masters in Educational Technology and this has got me researching and thinking more about technological changes in education.
It is important for you to have a clear plan and explain how you are going to use the technology or device. Next don't give up, keep trying and telling others about your plan.
Here is the detailed plan that I submitted using the Bates and Poole model that was developed to help education planners to analyze new technology for implementation.

Evaluating the Purchase of a Class Set of iPads

In purchasing any educational technologies, Bates and Poole (2003) suggest a framework to evaluate technology purchases. This framework is called the SECTIONS Model. This framework suggests that the following eight questions be answered before the purchase decision is made. Here are the questions and my responses to them based on the purchase of thirty iPads for use in a classroom as a replacement for textbooks and going to computer labs. The use of iPads for education is called m-learning and it facilitates a portable/mobile learning that frees up students from the confines of a desk, computer lab, etc. I would propose that the iPads be signed out to students for use during class only, and that they remain at the school; this would enable them to be used for several blocks of classes at a time and help prevent damage.

Below is the rationale and an explanation of the how the technology would be used.

S - Students: What is known about the students - or potential students - and the appropriateness of the technology for this particular group or range of students?

-Students are very used to mobile devices and many of them already use iPods everyday. By bringing in iPads the students will find the environment very familiar and there will likely be a very small learning curve. High school students will be capable of using the devices; most likely the students using them would be 15-16 years old.

E - Ease of use and reliability: how easy is it for both teachers and students to use? How reliable and well tested is the technology?

-With the purchase of 30 iPads, there will be a syncing & charging cart that will be purchased. This cart will securely hold the devices and allow for them to be easily charged and quickly ready to use. The cart will also have a dedicated laptop that will allow for simultaneous syncing; this will save a huge amount of time for the teacher. Syncing will be appropriate for uploading new apps, documents and upgrades to the iPads; and it will backup content on the iPads. The students will be quite familiar with the function and operation of the iPads because most of them already know how to use a iPod which operates exactly the same. The technology is in its second generation now and has proven to be a well adopted device. There are currently over 65,000 apps available for the iPad and this includes many that are very appropriate for schools.

C - Costs: what is the cost structure of each technology? What is the unit cost per learner?

In purchasing iPads the following hardware would be required for purchase:

-The iPad purchase would require a few pieces of technology. There would be the purchase of the iPad which are $519 each.
-The iPad Smart Cover is $45 each. This protects the screen and allows the device to we elevated for ease of use.
-The charging and syncing cart is the Bretford Cart for iPad cost $2,599.95. This cart is on wheels, it securely locks and allows all the iPads to sync and charge at the same time.
-An Apple laptop is also required that will be able to hook to the cart and it will host the software to sync apps and music and videos. I would recommend a Apple Macbook Pro 15”: it would cost $1749. The system requirements for the Bretford Cart requires an Apple computer.
--Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit is $35 and would be useful to have 3 of these (one per 10). This allows for students to import photos/video’s and other files onto the iPad
--Apple VGA Adapter allows the iPad to hook up to a monitor or projector for $35 and it would be useful to have two of these.
-Apple Digital AV Adapter is another adaptor that allows the iPad to hook up to a monitor or projector for $45 and it would be useful to have one of these.
--Apple Component AV Cable allows the iPad to hook up to a tv or projector for $45 and it would be useful to have one of these.
--It also may be useful to have Apple iPad Keyboard Dock that allows a keyboard to be hooked up to the iPad, I would recommend that we get six of these at $69 each (1 per 5 units).
--JAMBOX by Jawbone Wireless Speaker – Black. This will be used for presentations so the iPad has sound for a class to hear, costs $199 (only 1 required).

-In addition, some money would be required to allow for the purchase of apps/music/movies. Amount would vary and the focus will be on free or low cost apps. Several hundred would be needed for iMovie, Keynote, Pages, & Garage Band.

The total cost for all the iPads and accessories is approximately $25,000 + taxes .
This works out to approximately $800 per user.

T - Teaching and learning: what kinds of learning are needed? What instructional approaches will best meet these needs? What are the best technologies for supporting this teaching and learning?

-I will be teaching Social Studies with a focus on Constructivism pedagogy. This will entail lots of projects and research; student construction knowledge with the guidance/supervision of their teacher. In doing this, I will make great use of Moodle, PDF documents, eReader, and other Web2.0 tools. I would use the iPad as the replacement for a textbook and a tool for students to access the primary content of the course. The iPad is the ideal technology because it is not bulky and can easily be used at students desks, or in small groups doing research and collecting information on curricular topics. Ipads are easy to use, require no boot-up time and with the availability of all kinds of apps, can be used to quickly find the information required.

Students would each be assigned a particular numbered iPad and it would remain in the classroom to be returned to the iPad cart at the end of class. Students would be able to do homework outside of class time by accessing the class Moodle and by using other Web2.0 tools either through the Linux computers(outside of class) or a computer at home.

I - Interactivity: what kind of interaction does this technology enable?

-It is very interactive and engaging. The technology allows for the ease of mobility of the class; they are no longer having to remain in their desk or go to a computer lab anymore. All kinds of web content can easily be accessed at their desk anytime and very quickly.

With available accessories students can hook up the iPad to a projector and share content on the Smartboard and projector very easily and quickly. Images and video can also be imported and/or edited on the iPad, and again this content can be shared with the class in a presentation format.

O - Organizational issues: What are the organizational requirements and the barriers to be removed before this technology can be used successfully? What changes in organization need to be made?

-I have done some preliminary enquiries into the ability of 30 iPads to be able to use the WiFi on our schools current configuration. I have spoken with district computer technician regarding this and he does not see any problem with this unless everyone is streaming video at the same time from the web; this will likely not be done. The setup and upkeep of the iPads by district tech staff will be minimal; only setting up the
WiFi passwords after purchase. The iPad will be maintained by the teacher in the cart. This cart will keep the iPads fully charged and it would be easy for the teacher to upload new apps to all the devices simultaneously. The library could record the technology into inventory and put appropriate SD73 stickers and ID numbers on the devices (although Apple does do Free engraving on iPads...perhaps we could supply them with the number to avoid stickers).
So, with the new system of WiFi that was just installed at WSS, I don’t believe that there will be any barriers for us to adopt iPads.

N - Novelty: how new is this technology?

-Tablet technology has been around for over ten years. However, this touch technology has become popularized on the popular iPod touch/iPhone platform. This platform launched in 2007 and was quickly accepted. The great thing about this platform is the ease of use and the large numbers of apps available; currently around 350,000. The iPad is just over one year old and is on its 2nd generation; it has already sold over 15 million units. There are many android tablets that will be shipping over 2011 also; however, the prices are similar to more expensive than the iPad and they don’t have very many available apps. The iPad is much more developed and refined over its competition.

S - Speed: how quickly can courses be mounted with this technology? How quickly can materials be changed?

-Well, the iPad has virtually no start up time, this saves time for students to get to work much quicker. The Social Studies course that I would be creating would be in Moodle on the WSS website, this takes very little time to create and the content will be available to students anywhere (school or at home). Technologies are also available to create custom iPad apps that then can be loaded on all the iPads.
There are also opportunities for students to also make extensive use of Web2.0 tools and to create an individual electronic portfolio as a culmination to the course.

I hope that this technology proposal will be accepted. iPads for educational use is rapidly expanding worldwide. Some school districts are investing millions of dollars into them.
This review of implementing the iPad technology into the Social Studies curriculum was completed by:

J. Reid
WSS Social Studies Teacher

Bates and Poole. (2003) “A Framework for Selecting and Using Technology.” In Effective Teaching with Technology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Pages 75-105.


  1. Congratulations on getting the grant! And nice work with the SECTIONS model. It's a good tool for exactly this kind of purpose. I'm curious as to what the reaction to the model was by the administration. Obviously they were impressed enough to give you the funding, but was this the first time they saw that model used to justify funding a technology project, or is the SECTIONS model something that is widely adopted in your area?

  2. Thanks for your comments Clint. I have become familiar with the SECTIONS Model over the past couple of years. It seemed to me to be a good way to structure a grant, that way I was being critical of the purpose for the technology. Also, I thought that the format would end up answering many of the questions and concerns that the school board might have.
    I really didn't have any great connections with the school board, no more than any another teacher. So, why did I get it approved?
    I think that it was a combination of a number of things:
    Support from my principal definitely made a big difference.
    I have a lot of technology experience and am finishing a masters in that area.
    I also recently received alot of media attention for using twitter in the classroom during the federal election. So that exposure in using technology made an impression also.
    And, finally, I think that the proposal impressed the school district technology manager.

    I think that this project is really a big step in my SD in having some technology choice. We currently have 95% of all computers as Linux machines. They have their pro's and con's.