Friday, August 10, 2012

Tips for iPads in Classroom

We are starting our second year of having iPads in our elementary classrooms, our Title I CCJH classrooms, and some of our AJHS classrooms. We've created a list of tips for managing the equipment in our classrooms.

Tip 1: Team decisions regarding equity
  • Will you break the cart up across your grade level? If so, who will host the cart in their room?
  • Or, will you rotate the cart from class to class? If so, will you do it on a daily schedule or by time slots during the day?
  • Whatever you choose, revisit those choices every quarter or every month. After reflecting, you may come up with a better solution, or decide to try a different system, or a hybrid of both. Be flexible and work together as a team. 

Tip 2: Marry the devices with the cart, and return them to their homes
  • Each of our carts has its own MacBook Air computers dedicated to your iPads. Once you place the iPads in the cart, it'll sync with what's on the MacBook Air using Apple Configurator.
  • Make sure you only use the cart that your iPads are dedicated to. 
  • Each iPad should have its home in the cart. The iPads are numbered and the slots in the cart are numbered. 
  • Keep your homes neat. In other words, keep the cords tucked in the right places so they are easy to plug in to recharge.

Tip 3: Have a procedure for passing out and returning the iPads to their carts.
  • Define and model the procedure for unplugging and returning the iPads to their cards. 
  • Remind them how to walk with the iPads once they are unplugged from the cart.
  • When will the students get their iPads? Will they get their iPads at the start of class? When will they return them to the cart?
  • Will there be a tech classroom job for the students to get/return the iPads to the cart? If so, will part of their job be reporting any missing devices from the cart upon checking out and returning the devices to the cart?
  • Make sure your team follows the same procedures, especially since you are sharing the cart.

Tip 4: Create a list of common sense expectations, such as:
  • Walk with the iPad safely secured in hands.
  • Keep drinks and all liquids away from the iPads.
  • Put them somewhere safe when they are not in use. 
  • Have clean hands when you use the iPads.
  • Put iPads in sleep mode when you need the students' attention.
  • Use them appropriately.
  • Model and discuss these expectations.

Image is licensed under
 Creative Commons by Tony Vincent
Tip 5: Set each device's wallpaper with the number (or name)
  • Set each device's wall paper with its number. If you've decided to break the cart up, you can also add the teacher's name and room number to allow other teachers to borrow for specific special projects where they need extra devices.
  • Tony Vincent has created a fabulous post about how to do this, which includes images to download as wallpaper.

Tip 6: Downloading new apps
  • To download free apps, you'll do that from the iTunes account on the MacBook Air that is dedicated to your cart. Then select the iPads you want that app loaded to.
  • Eventually grade levels will also be able to purchase apps by buying a voucher through our Tech Director, Jon Castelhano
  • Here is a must read by Jennie Magiera on the process of selecting, reflecting, and using apps for learning in the classroom.
  • Here is a quick read from Langwitches, There is More to iPads in the Classroom than Apps.

Tip 7: Create shortcuts for sites you visit most frequently
Add a web clip icon to the home screen
Image licensed under Creative Commons by Tony Vincent
  • You can add the URL to your home screen by touching the plus symbol at the bottom of the screen. Then select Add to Home Screen, and edit the title if desired. Then select Add to complete the process.
  • Use QR codes or URL shorteners to easily navigate to new sites.

Tip 8: Regarding earbuds
AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by keoshi
  • Have earbuds for each student. I recommend purchasing from Walmart, a dollar store, and online (thanks Tony Vincent, for the link). 
  • I've also heard of teachers putting earbuds on their list of school supplies. Check with your site administrator what his/her thoughts are on that.
  • I recommend discussing that listening to devices at levels over 85 dB is dangerous to your hearing. Here are two interactive sites students could explore: How Loud is Too Loud? and What's that Sound? 

Tip 9: Keeping the iPads clean
  • Use microfiber clothes to clean the screens. 
  • If the screen can't be cleaned by a dry microfiber cloth, then put a few drops of water on the microfiber cloth to try to wipe it clean.
  • Never use Clorex wipes to clean the iPads. Tony Vincent's suggestion of using an UV light to sanitize the screen such as Germ Guardian UV-C Light Wand is brilliant.

Tip 10: Decide how students will share their creations with you
  • DropBox is a simple way to share content. Here's a tutorial for using DropBox on Kathleen Morris' Teaching Generation Now blog. Here's a tutorial for using DropBox and DropItToMe from the Edublogs Web Tools Teacher Challenge.
  • ShowMe and Educreations are apps that function as interactive whiteboards that record what you say as you write on the screen. Once logged into your teacher account from the iPad, content can be saved to your account, which can be retrieved online from your laptop. This is another easy way for students to share their creations with you.

Closing thoughts

This list of tips is a good starting point, but I'm sure there are many items I've missed. Please add to the conversation and share your thoughts in a comment.
  • What tips would you add to this list?
  • What tips hadn't you thought about before?
  • What questions do you still have regarding getting started?

Special thanks to Tony Vincent for his post, Classroom iPod touches and iPads: Dos and Don'ts, as the inspiration for this post. Special thanks also to my boss, Jon Castelhano, for helping me reflect on the ten tips in this post, and for setting up the iPads and figuring out the syncing with Apple Configurator.