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6 Do’s and Don’ts for Secondary iPad Deployment and Support of New Initiatives

 

Tech Ninja Todd, Michelle Cordy, and a recent Do and Don’t list inspired me to sit down and reflect upon the start of this year with secondary iPads and the new enrollment system. While the new enrollment system is fiscally responsible (as we can now push and pull apps), allows for improved management (e.g. disabling iMessages and Game Center), and even provides the functionality to lock down devices during a testing situation with Casper Focus, any new system and process will encounter a few bumps in the road.

 

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I hope this Do’s and Don’t lists serves to support others that are embarking on this journey as well as proves to be a fruitful reflection on the process:

Do Communicate with and Include Key Decision Makers in the Planning Process

Include key decision makers (e.g. teachers, admin, ed tech, and technicians) in every level of the decision-making process. Teachers and students are affected by the new deployment and enrollment process and need to know how it will impact them. Include questions like:

  • How will STUDENTS RECEIVE the INFO they need to set up their iPad?: With the new enrollment process, students need a Novell login as well as their iTunes account. Should students receive their student login information prior to picking up their iPad to expedite the process? Students are also encouraged to use a personal iTunes account rather than a family one in secondary. While many students have a personal iTunes account, there are quite a few that do not. As the setup process for creating an account can take up to 10-15 minutes, consider options for ensuring students have this account prior to iPad rollout and enrollment day.
  • When/Where/How will STUDENTS RECEIVE their iPad?: Discuss the procedure for how students will be pulled out of class to pick up their iPads and when that process will occur.
  • How will we catch the DEPLOYMENT STRAGGLERS?: Have a plan in place for students that missed the day they were supposed to pick up their iPad. Do they come the next day? Do they visit the juice bar during lunch?
  • When can I start UTILIZING INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS within the iPad?: While we encourage students to keep their iPads over the summer so they can hit the instructional ground running with them the first day of school, there are inevitably some that decide to not keep them over the summer. As we move to be more and more paperless, how do you modify for these students until they receive their iPad (especially if teachers are using iTunes U as their textbook and the only device students can access the course on is an iPhone or an iPad)?
  • When can I start ASSIGNING PROJECTS utilizing iPad apps?: Students that downloaded a district-issued app in a previous year with their current iTunes account can retrieve it within the Purchased section of the app store. However, new students and students that did not download that app last year will have to wait until the wireless app push of this app is initiated.

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DON’T use Email as the Sole Means of Communication 

Don’t use email as the sole means of communication to inform teachers and students of a new initiative. Clearly the aforementioned questions and discussions are integral to the success of the devices in the classroom within the first few weeks of school. While email should not be used as the sole means to communicate this information, it can be effective if it is kept clear and concise and communicated to both teachers, students, and parents:

  • Announcements: Include information in the student announcements during the day.
  • Email: Communicate to both staff, students, and parents.
  • Newsletter: Send additional information in the weekly school newsletter so parents can remind students as well.

DO Plan

In my last post, I mentioned the Why of our district and how I felt it is a clear and compelling WHY that is at the forefront of our decision making. This year, we sought to alleviate some of the distraction of texting and gaming as well as utilize the devices for testing. To do this we are using a new enrollment process with our iPads. Carl Hooker has done an excellent job of creating a visual and explanation to detail some of the changes to restrictions in his most recent post.

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DON’T be Scared to Redesign the Map or Change Course Direction on the Fly

We all know the best laid plans sometimes need to be adjusted. Yesterday, I discovered that our 12+ Apps Only restriction (which limits our Freshman and Sophomores to only downloading apps that are rated 12-16) put the kibosh on downloading DocAS. DocAS is the paid app we provision to students to annotate PDF’s. It is a truly a solid and effective app but it has a built-in web browser that we can not filter and thus scores a 17+ rating. While I still believe in setting restrictions on student devices, know that this is not a fail-safe. Unfortunately, restricting games like Grand Theft Auto gives way to impeding instructional content like DocAS. Since we started using DocAS, apps like eBackpack and iFiles have since then included a PDF annotation tool or widget that we can switch too and still retain our management parameters. Fortunately, I was in the Juice Bar supporting our tech this week and I was able to catch this issue and quickly remedy it with some suitable alternatives…which leads me to my last Do and Don’t.

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DO Address Troubleshooting Concerns ASAP with all vested parties

We all make mistakes and discover better paths for maneuvering through a process. While it is important to be able to think on your feet and change course direction on the fly, it is just as important to communicate these changes and findings to the greater team. The Ed Tech, Librarian, Technician, Director of Innovation, and Director of Technology work hand in hand to execute and support our initiatives and they need to be made aware of bumps along the road as well as the on-the-fly detours that you make.

DON’T Get Caught in the Troubleshooting Doldrums

The beginning of the year can be fraught with wires and pliers kinds of tasks as well as technical “should” and “supposed to” frustrations. This device “should”_____ but doesn’t. This Application was “supposed to” _____ when it was installed. It is very easy to get caught in a whirlwind of blame and complain games. Don’t lose sight of your goal and purpose (the WHY that started it all). Know that all of these things shall pass and that getting “up and running” very much impacts instruction in the classroom. Before you can raise the walls and break through the ceilings, you have to ensure that the foundation is solid.

DO Teach Students to Select Appropriate Avenues for Backing up and Archiving their work

While iCloud initially may seem like the best and simplest option for back up, sometimes things mysteriously disappear, user error occurs in the back up process, or managed devices will not allow for a perfect replica of an iCloud back-up. Teaching students to always have a back-up plan and set systems in place for school and beyond is essential. Perhaps I am old school in this thought, but I find that that I can ensure that I have most things backed up within a 3 step process:

  • Photos/Videos: I like to create a back-up of these using a sync cable and a computer or upload them to a third party site with unlimited photo storage like Shutterfly (photos only) or Google Drive.
  • Apple Apps: The easiest way to assure that documents and media will transfer from a device is using iCloud within each app.
  • Non-Apple Apps: Depending on what these are, I will select the Open-In on each item and back them up to a cloud-based service that I will retain ownership of like a Google or Evernote account.

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DON’T Expect there to be a One-Size-Fits All Streamlined process for Backing Up work

Students have different computers and accounts (e.g. Dropbox, Drive, Copy, etc…) that they can back up to and may only be worried about losing documents within apps and not photos. Thus there is no one-size-fits all approach, but we can significantly alleviate the pain of this process by teaching students to be master organizers and owners of their own content and back-up process.

DO Provide Resources to Support Students

Support resources are imperative. There are some students, parents, and teachers that can successfully troubleshoot with step sheets and videos. That being said… this should not be the sole means of resources and support that your provide for your students…

DON’T Replace Face to Face Interactions with Email and Handouts

We all know that many issues can not be resolved with email. In fact 9 times out 10, the thing someone is asking about in the email isn’t even really the true heart of the problem. Truly there is no substitute for face to face support and interaction with students. While spending time for two class periods a day in the Juice Bar pulls me away from other duties and time that can be spent on instructional support, I have found it is one of the best ways to catch big issues before they spread (e.g. DocAs age restriction), discover troubleshooting trends, and resolve multiple technical issues that ultimately impact instruction in a big way.

 

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DO Make Time to Regroup and Reflect

The beginning of the year can feel like a tasmanian whirlwind of troubleshooting, emails, and support. Carving out time to reflect on the first few weeks can feel like a luxury but know that it is truly a necessity! It serves the dual purpose of being cathartic as well as integral to ensuring that things go smoother next year.

DON’T Be Held Captive to Time – Prioritize and Put out Fires

I am one that thrives on time for creativity and things that inspire me. I often struggle with the quick sand of influx of emails, time-consuming monotonous tasks, and the fact that “there is never enough time”. Being a mother of two elementary-age boys, the start of the year is even more difficult for me as all of these new systems are in place for myself as an employee, instructional supporter, and mother of two students. I eventually had to resign to the fact that I didn’t have time to do everything and had to focus on putting out fires for now and leave elevating thoughts and instruction to late September. Rather than feeling captive to time, I came to grips with it and have created Now and Later lists to support putting things in perspective as well as ensuring that they do not fall off my instructional radar when the time comes that they can receive a little more attention.

 

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