Welcome to our first contributor to the Staffroom HQ, Richard Prowse. Richard is the ICT and Primary coordinator at our school and has vast experience and knowledge in technology in the school setting. Richard is the driving force behind the direction we are taking with the iPad deployment and below he shares his reasons for this current and critical move.
Recently I have been involved, like many other educators, in investing in the iPad experience for use in a school setting.
In the dim past we had a computer room. Which when I arrived at the school consisted of fourteen Apple machines networked and connected precariously to a 28K modem. It was the late nineties and Apple was floundering so we transitioned to PC and escaped from the confines of a computer room moving into a network which threaded it’s way through the school. Small groups of PCs scattered conveniently in shared spaces. At this time we also tried to achieve mobility and had a couple of filing cabinets mounted on wheels (the first manufactured laptop trolleys were too expensive) equipped with wireless laptops available for classes. This had reasonable success, but we ran into difficulty with non lithium battery life. Over time the mobile banks of laptops (Windows based) have evolved into our main delivery system the trolleys now affordable and the batteries are reliable.
Our next evolution is launching as I am writing. We are investing in iPads. Seems like an obvious choice now, but to start with the tablet market was a little muddied with obvious contenders from the Android market, iPads and Windows based tablets. I was drawn initially to Androids. I had a Samsung Galaxy S Android phone which was pretty impressive and the Android apps seemed competitive. Androids and the Windows based tablets ran Flash and they seemed to have a USB capability which was lacking in the iPad.
We were able to try a few of these devices over a few days. The iPad impressed as being the slickest to use. Additionally we started trawling the Internet for commentary. We read blogs, searched Twitter and generally educated ourselves about the devices and learned about user experience especially in the educational sphere.
The Apple iPad was the best option. Why?
- The iPad has the most educational apps
- The NSW Education Dept is interested and is specifically developing apps for iPads
- Many Independent schools in Sydney are in the process of introducing iPads
- The Victorian Education Dept has been trialling iPads extensively. This provided many insights.
- A huge number of schools internationally e.g. US, are introducing iPads across their schools e.g. School District in Maine
- The device is robust and well supported
- The device is easy to manage and offers excellent battery life
- The interface is slick and easy to use and has no boot time issues
- The device will be effective in moving us toward the “Cloud” and the Apple iCloud will assist this
- The device will deliver well both for teachers and students (and for different age groups)
- The price is acceptable in our move toward 1:1 computing
We have recently purchased our first group of iPads which we will experiment with next term. We are targeting teachers, Year 1 and Year 3 to start. This we believe a major step in our journey towards 1:1. The challenges around teacher and student uptake and real integration into the learning programs will need to be met.
Written by Richard Prowse
Follow him on Twitter: @rhp123
(Photos courtesy of Ashish Gupta and Morten Oddvik)