Setting up Class iPads: a challenge

Having the support from the fabulous people at Sunderland University last year, through the (now defunct) LSIS Research Development Fellowship, was amazing on many levels. But I had one particular Light Bulb Moment: I became conscious that the reason I was possibly slightly derogatory about class sets of iPads was because I didn’t have any experience of this. All my experience with them was around how they could be used by individuals¬† – firstly through my project with the tutors on the ESOL subject specialism and then through last year’s project with the HE tutors and students.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, this year I have pulled these previously individualied devices together to create a class set.

Only one week into the term I really hope I’m not going to regret this!

The iPads haven’t even been taking into a classroom yet & I think I may need to confess to only having limited ideas at the moment about exactly what to do with them as I have been so tied up with the technical aspects of setting them up.

Things I have learned so far:

  • You can create an Apple ID without needing to attach a credit card. This means only free apps will be download-able on any of the devices. This is important for us as there is no budget within the college to buy apps for this project and it cannot be any one tutors responsibility to provide a credit card!
  • If you turn ‘automatic download’ on each device, then an app put on one device will appear on any other device using the same Apple ID
  • Having multiple devices attached to a single Apple ID eats into the free 5GB of iCloud storage.
  • Once you exceed the storage on iCloud your device is no longer backed up. This is a problem.
  • It is a good idea to name each device. I have creatively called each device Class iPad 1, Class iPad 2, etc. Each device has a wallpaper corresponding to it’s own number. This should help with keeping track of the devices.
  • Don’t rely on the brand new college wifi. I discovered that even though the devices are connected to the wifi and can browse the internet, they cannot connect to iTunes and therefore cannot download any new apps. #eek

Things I still need to figure out:

  • How the devices will be stored and charged and who will take responsibility for this.
  • How we are going to overcome the ‘new app’ problem. I don’t want to have to keep bringing the iPads home to connect to wifi to install useful apps
  • Exactly what I am going to do with them in the classroom. One idea I have for my 16-18 ESOL students (who¬† take for their IT class) is for them to make videos as a beginners guide to using the computers in college. These videos could be useful for other (adult) ESOL students who may not be so confident with technology..

The Project

Fortunately, I will not be alone in this exploration. I have five wonderful colleagues who took the Tech for Learning course last year and are keen to keep experimenting together. We will share this class set and meet regularly to discuss what we are learning and provide a support network for each other. What I need to figure out is, if I want to do some more structured ‘research’ on this project what this will look like: what are my research questions/methodology/etc.

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