iPads – the kit

So 34 iPads arrived in school last week to compliment the 1 we already had. When researching what to buy, a few considerations were needed, not just buy as many iPads as possible but how are you going to manage them, where are the pupils going to save their work and how are teachers going to teach with them.

iMac – We already had an iMac which would be perfect for managing the apps and the iPads themselves. Using Apple Configurator we can configure the iPads en masse using a Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) and Program Facilitator Account. Not sure what these are, they are vital to purchasing apps in large quantity and getting great discounts (on 20+ copies of an app). It’s taken me a lot of reading and talking to experts to understand how apps work on lots of iPads. Give me a few more days and I should have answers to most questions. We can also export large projects to the iMac allowing for more advanced editing on iLife.

Mac Mini Server – this was recommended as a way of storing pupils work, if not going for a 1:1 solution. If going 1:1, then they can store on the iPad itself and just email work to teachers etc. If sharing iPads with other pupils, then on this server, each child would have a folder to save work to, using WebDav. This is very new to me and until this has been setup in school (happening tomorrow) then I am in the dark as to how it will work.

Mac Book – we had intended to order a syncing and charging case to make these jobs easier, but just as we were placing the order, we changed our minds and bought a Mac Book. When funds allow us to do so, we will buy a syncing case/trolley as they are brilliant for simplifying jobs. For the time being we are manually charging them via extension leads and plugs and syncing them once a week with pupils in my class responsible for sncing certain iPads each day.

Why did we buy a Mac book? Purely for teachers to use. I found when using iMovie for example, the iPad version is limited and I had problems uploading the videos to Youtube, when editing and uploading on the Mac Book, it was much easier and quicker to do. The other reason, iBooks Author, this looks fantastic and I am very keen to get staff and pupils creating interactive text books to share with others and this can only be done on an iMac and Mac Book, as the majority of this work would be done at home or on the move, an iMac wasn’t appropriate. Hence the Mac Book.

Apple TV and Cables – There are 2 ways of connecting iPad to a IWB or TV, Apple TV and a VGA cable with adapter. The main difference, wireless or wired. The benefits of wireless are easy to identify but this solution costs over £100 per classroom and you need good wireless, whereas a cable and adapter is a few quid. At present we have both in year 4, Apple TV in my room and a cable connection in the room next door. It’ll be interesting seeing how they both fare over the next few months.

Apart from Apple kit, we have upgraded the wireless infrastructure throughout the school. This is THE most import ant thing to get right in the school as it will be used more than ever. We had 3 companies come and quote and in the end chose a by Aerohive. This is what Cedars in Scotland use and it comes highly recommended. For a school with 14 classrooms, we are having 28 access points installed which will give complete coverage wherever you are. We are very keen that this is not just a solution for now but for the foreseeable future as well.

Our internet speed has also just been upgraded from 2Mb to 10Mb, time will tell whether that is enough or if we need more..!

So that is a brief over view of the kit in school, we think we’ve done our homework well enough and it will all work. January will be crunch time, when the new wireless is up and running and the iPads are being used throughout the school.

Tomorrow, a company called i-Teach (http://www.i-teach.org.uk) are coming in to support me in setting up the iPads, I have many questions for them and will post soon on the practicalities to think about when venturing down this path.

For now I’ll leave you with 2 excellent blogs to follow and read:

http://ictevangelist.com

http://speirs.org

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