Friday, July 11, 2014

iPad Set Up

I've had a classroom set of iPads for two years now.  My principal came to me one June and asked if I would be interested in having a teacher iPad.  I was honest with her and said I use my personal iPhone for all the things I thought I wanted (remote, pictures, video) but just happened to mention that if I had 5 or 6 iPads for the class....  My principal also doubles as the technology teacher so she absolutely LOVES that I have a passion for technology as well and would like to integrate it into my music class.  (I think that's why she hired me!  I used a ton of technology in my lesson interview!)

Come September, I was setting up 8 new iPads!  I was the first classroom to get iPads so I forged the way.  Here are some tips I learned along the way.

Apple Configurator: Supervised or Unsupervised
When I had 8 iPads, I thought the best approach to managing them was one at a time.  And it worked.  I set up individual gmail accounts (through our domain) and then made individual Apple IDs.  I still set up our new iPads that way and we have 35 in the building.  But the Apple Configurator is an application for Mac that lets me make changes to all 35 at the same time.  I can manage apps all at once and run software updates on them all.  Apple Configurator requires one Apple ID (assigned to the macbook) that supervises all the apps on the iPads.  So my iPads have two Apple IDs so I can have the best of both worlds.  If I was dealing with 200 iPads, I might use only the Configurator.  When I had 8 iPads, I could do things one at a time.  It all depends.

Dropbox and Email
It was worth every second of my time to set up the email and Dropbox accounts on each iPad.  If I want to put a picture, video, music, file on the iPads, I just put it in our shared Dropbox folder.  If I want the students to send something to me, I have the email accounts set up (or have them iMessage it to me).  Sometimes I write emails to the students to tell them how their work is doing and give encouragement/feedback (with recorders mostly).

Battery Life
I use my iPads in spurts.  Some months they come out once or twice because I'm so busy with concert prep or holidays, other months it's almost every day of the week.  Even at my most constant use times, I only charge about once a week.  "Close out all your open apps!" I say that to my kids more than anything else.  It definitely helps with battery life.  I have a mini charging station set up in my room so I can charge overnight.  The iPads are locked in my cabinet with the power strip cord sticking out.  Easy peasy!

My principal lets me keep the iPads in my room so long as they are locked up.  It's not enough to lock the door, I have to lock the cabinet as well.  I have the iPad cases numbered on the outside and I try to keep them in order.  Count them on the way out, count them on the way in!  I make sure the students see me counting them all the time and we do not head out the door until I find every single iPad.  Often the last iPad I can't find is the one on my desk that I was demo-ing from!  The kids all remember where I put it but I don't!

There will be tons of updates.  Do them every possible chance you can get.  All 10 iPads running updates on the wi-fi will slow things down a lot so before and after school are the best times.  The worst is coming back from break and having 17 updates on each iPad.  Software updates are even worse!  Even with the configurator, they take hours.  But you gotta do em'!

Screen Protectors
A MUST.  And only change them as often if you have to.  Some of my iPads have never been changed and they're fine.  Others have been changed a few times already.

Being my own iPad monitor has been a blessing.  I know some teachers need to rely on their IT guy (mandatory or by choice) and it takes 1 step longer to get new apps or updates.  I happen to be the IT guy of my school but I also appreciate the teachers who are able to care for their iPads by themselves.

I had to be the one bring the idea to my principal and assure her that I was capable.  I did a lot of research at every step of the process.  Hopefully this can help you on your iPad journey too!

1 comment:

  1. These are some great tips to keep in mind. We have 2 children in the house and they get so crazy that I am always worried about letting them use the ipad. My husband has always made sure that there is some sort of cover over the i-pad and that the kids know when and where to use it. Thanks.

    Cordia Remsen @ RB’s Computer Service