These are my notes from Jonathann Reed and Sharon Parsons’ breakout session, “iPads in the Classroom” at the the 2010 Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in Manchester, NH on 30 Nov 2010. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. Track conference conversations using the Twitter hash tag #cmtc10. Sharon teaches 6th grade and Jon is the technology integrator at Sunapee MH School.

The official session description in the program is:

Come learn how a middle school classroom is taking advantage of iPad technology to extend the classroom beyond the walls and wifi. Learn from our experiences about what works and what does not with these powerful devices. We discuss administration, uses, and share ideas. Can you really collaborate from anywhere using the 3G connection? What challenges does all this connectivity present? Participants are encouraged to bring your own device and ideas to share with the group.

Sharon mentioned “Fit It” to Sarah as a good app for geometric concept development

We decided to do this session because we’ve gotten our feet wet with iPads in the classroom
– in the last 24 hours with our iPads and the new operating system…
– We bought Keynote for the iPad a few weeks ago
– got some need cables, plugged them into our projector

New version of Keynote on the iPad, there is an “X” that takes me out of my slideshow and see my slides
– there is now a laser pointer in Keynote
– solved a couple of our problems we were just talking about (maybe it heard us!)

We’re going to share about our own “iPad evolution” of use
– we wrote this description last Spring shortly after we were handed our iPads

The good, the bad and the ugly
– we’re doing lots of good stuff in the classrooms and the library with the iPads

Last May (May 2010)
– how we ended up with iPads
– we have a really cool superintendent, he sent an email, “Would you like a new iPad?”
– seemed odd, 3/4 of the way through the school year
– through a grant he got us some iPads
– it was like Christmas

We were told/expected it to be revolutionary
– so much hype in the media about the iPad

Kids are far less hesitant and fearful than adults to try new things, come up with new ideas
– Sharon: I still struggled with how 1 iPad is going to make a difference in my classroom…
– I really missed being able to hook my iPad up to the projector and share all my apps

Taking the iPad home and playing with it was critical

Is it just a big iPod? We had the challenge of needing to get beyond that

Initial uses
– we had a couple of Kindles in our library already
– AppStore
– Calculator
– Notepad
– Basic Skills
– iTunes

We believed in the power of the App Store (“there’s an app for that”)
– a BIG calculator who is struggling to see is a BIG deal (story of a student who has very poor vision)
– calculators we have had don’t do all the negative numbers, exponents, etc.

Being able to just take notes and email them
– committees in town… now I (Jon) am the meeting minutes guy

Flashcards: there are apps that are quick and easy

I’ve had kids typing notes after sporting events, on the way home
– we did get the 3G iPads so we’d have that connectivity
– our district isn’t giving laptops to kids, no laptops are leaving our building with kids

Podcasts and iTunesU: Content in iTunes was useful right off the bad

Challenges we’ve faced:
– If your billing address is not in an AT&T billing area you can’t even create an account with AT&T, we had to have someone else register the iPads on her personal account and bring them back to school
– then we changed the billing back to the school purchasing card
– her credit card was set to HER address that was in the billing area, so that had to be used

Blocked wifi
– we are completely dependent on the AT&T 3G network, because wifi at our school is incompatible with the iPad
– our network administrator has not been able to get us setup to use the existing wifi network

I’M WONDERING WHAT THE ERATE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS ARE? MOST LIKELY THESE COULD BE ADDRESSED IN PART (AT LEAST) BY ENABLING SOME LEVEL OF WEB RESTRICTIONS ON THE IPAD BROWSER. VERY INTERESTING TO LEARN ABOUT THESE WIFI ISSUES. SADLY THIS ISN’T UNUSUAL, LOTS OF SCHOOLS (OKCPS IS AN EXAMPLE) HAVE WIFI NETWORKS THAT ARE NOT FRIENDLY TO NON-WINDOWS DEVICES.

Distractions
– 11th graders asked to look up something about Charlemagne, and they are going to Facebook right away

The internet is protected with content filtering on the iPads

Lack of Flash support is frustrating

Managing apps and content is challenging
– we have personal iTunes accounts as teachers, and the librarian has an account
– when I want to sync accounts, it’s very hard
– we setup one laptop as a standalone server for our iTunes content
– teachers used to buy on DVD or VHS, now we buy it through iTunes and download it on THAT computer

We’ve found Amazon takes purchase orders, so we buy Amazon gift cards for iTunes and then use those gift cards for iTunes purchases at school
– so we are going to do that with our $50 classroom technology budgets next year

MY COMMENT: THIS REMINDS ME OF THE LATE 1990s WHEN WE WERE DOING “1 COMPUTER IN THE CLASSROOM” WORKSHOPS, HOW CAN 1 COMPUTER BE SHARED AND UTILIZED BY AN ENTIRE CLASS OF STUDENTS

Question about how are we going to backup data we are buying on iTunes
– our network admin bought a RAID0 backup solution, so we can backup to that device from our laptop
– not backing it up to a network server, backing up to another device that has limited access

question from the audience about licensing agreements

For the Kindles, we found we can buy a book and put it on 7 different devices

Audience comment: Apple now has an App Voucher program, works similar to an iTunes gift card
– discounts apply as you buy other apps
Volume Purchase Program from Apple

We get a spotty signal in different places of our school for the 3G signal

CIPA compliance
– THIS WAS A BULLET ON THE SLIDE, BUT WAS NOT ADDRESSED BY JON

I can’t show you a video from YouTube on the projector, but I can show you a video from iTunes

Question from a participant: Why not just use a regular computer?
– Sharon’s answer: It’s so fast, it’s on all the time

Sharon uses the app MathBoard

Jon: Apple laptops and other computers aren’t even allowed within our building, so we have to sneak in these iPads!

From audience member: Pages on the iPad is not a full blown version of the computer version

THIS IS A REAL INTERESTING DISCUSSION NOW AMONG PARTICIPANTS, WHICH IS BASICALLY FOCUSED ON: WHY USE AN IPAD INSTEAD OF A “REGULAR” COMPUTERS

Sharon took iPads and iPods on an 8th grade trip to Gettysburg, Antietam and Harpers Ferry
– 8-9 hour ride, thought we could use these devices enroute especially since we’d had so little time together prior to the trip for learning
– we made the requirement that some time during the trip we want you to listen to these podcasts
– that provided some additional background information

Jon: We setup discussion forums in Moodle, were going to have new questions posting during the actual field trip

Sarah on the front row

Jon: Amazing to see how far iTunes has come (the Beatles are there now!)
– how much iTunes University has grown

Sharon: I frequently go to the Apps store and try free examples

Participant suggestions:
– DragonSearch: Search Google with your Voice
– Dragon Dictation: Writes into your notes with your voice

TapToTalk: (free)

TapToTalk turns an iPhone™, iPad™ or iPod touch® into an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. TapToTalk makes communication fun, like another “game” on this cool device. Just tap a picture and TapToTalk speaks. Each picture can lead to another screen of pictures. This free TapToTalk™ app comes with a fully functional album that you can use with your child. If you want to create albums that are individualized to meet the specific needs of your child, visit the TapToTalk web site (www.taptotalk.com),

WritePad: write with your finger, makes into type (99¢)

SunDry Notes (free, for iPad)

Write, draw, research, record and share! Take notes of any kind and use the built-in Evernote + Dropbox + Google Docs + Facebook integration. The ultimate multi-media note taking application!

Great to see visual example of words, hear them, get multiple means of reinforcement (from Sharon)

Jon: I think the screen is easier to read on a Kindle than an iPad, and for $139 it is more affordable than an iPad

Zagg invisible shield recommended by Jon

Sharon’s relative works for Pearson, describes how they are customizing chapters now for colleges
– running into lots of trouble with that because of the digital media to include, cost issues

MAKES ME THINK OF OUR POWERFUL INGREDIENTS FOR BLENDED LEARNING PROJECT!

Audience comment: Concerns over not being able to block Internet access on the iPad

Sarah shared Voices and Braingle

Superintendent’s comment: There is a plan to buy more if they are good for kids
– so “yes, if….” is the answer to “are you going to buy more”

Comment from a participant: We’re really thinking this (the iPad) would make a good ‘station’ in our classroom for kids

Recc from Ann Carnevale: iPad Pilot Project from Palm Beach County Schools, FL

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