Our small private high school is looking to add a middle school next year and one of the enhancements is to add a 1:1 program.  The first year would be about 25 6th graders and 25 7th graders with the intention of having the whole school of about 400-500 6-12 kids going 1:1 in two years.

We were looking at netbooks, but then the iPad arrived and we are heavily leaning in that direction.  Price, ease of use, apps, portability, ebooks, battery life, and control being the main attractions.  The lack of a real keyboard and no flash support being the potential drawbacks. 

I've perused the iPod Touch in schools thread, but this a slightly different device with more emphasis on content creation and printing.  Despite my newbie status, I thought it might be worthy of it's own thread.

I guess what I am looking for is opinions and insights on the best methods for restrictions, sharing files, and apps for classroom use.

Right now I'm leaning toward installing only the apps we want and locking it down as hard as possible.  Wannabe Jail breakers can enjoy their time in public school.  :)

Thoughts and opinions? 

BTW: let's please not turn this into a Apple vs PC tablet fight.  We are a 99% Windows school and I'm aware the HP Win7 Tegra based tablet is on the horizon and Google has stuff up their sleeve as well.  Let's try to make this about strategies and ideas for the iPad and not a flame-fest. 

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As far as locking down and managing the devices, I suppose the iPhone Configuration Utility will soon have the functionality to support iPads. It can be a bit clunky, but you can create profiles for your devices and push them out during the sync, which will allow you to set wireless policies, unify the app set, and I believe (but have not tested) you can lockout the app store. The link to the app is here: http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/enterprise/
For what it's worth you could get every student an Ipod Touch and a Netbook for the price of an Ipad and have the best of both worlds. I like the device but every single person I've heard talk about it has said content creation on it is terrible. You can Tweet on it but much beyond that and you'll want a keyboard.

You can, of course, get keyboards for them but at that point why not just go with a netbook?
Just a couple of clarifying questions...

1. Has the decision already been made as to which direction you are going with the iPad? In other words, do you want words of encouragement about the already made decision or do you want other directions (such as arguments in favor of other platforms)?

2. What is your definition of 1:1? Would sets of iPods in the classroom count as 1:1?

3. What sorts of apps and programs would you like to see on the iPads in your school?

From what I gather, I would agree with most who have replied in this thread that currently the iPad is a bit new as far as the availability of apps you might consider using daily in classroom. However, that is bound to change. There are some great apps for the iPhone and iPod which have classroom applications you can consider, however most of those can be accessed using the web browser on the iPad and not through dedicated apps. For example, Dropbox and Evernote are a couple of very useful tools that I use in my classroom all the time. Both of those apps are accessible online through the browser and installing apps for them is not needed.

It will be interesting to see how development for the iPad will take into account the needs of teachers and students. You might want to contact some people who develop educational apps or websites and see if they have anything coming in the near future. Jeff Hellman (google Helllansoft) who develops a great planbook program for both Mac and PC just got an iPad himself. I would be surprised if he wasn't already planning for a iPad version of his program.
Good questions...

I'm just a tech director and so in some ways I'm interpreting and parroting the wants and desires of people with fancier titles and teachers, but I think ebooks and textbooks are the primary motivator. The online Holt online text books are impressive.

Having quick and easy to use internet at each kid's desk is also part of the allure. Apps would be decided by the two new middle school teachers and me. They have just been hired and are excited about having a 1:1 room and really willing to learn, but not really tech savvy. Most of the iPad's interface being dead simple is a plus in this aspect.

I think the speed and battery life are really unparalleled in this price range. We don't have to start rewiring our electrical to plug all these things in and they easily last all school day and can probably be toted home for homework without needing a charge. The instant on of all the apps is phenomenal. Waiting for netbooks to boot or wake up is a pain. In the weeks I've played with it, I have not had it lock up or crash. I don't have to worry about viruses, malware, and wannabe hackers. It just works.

Beyond the keyboard not having arrow keys, I've not had any real issues with typing. I can plunk away a few paragraphs with relative ease. It's not as fast as touch typing on a real keyboard, but it's not the hideous life ruing experience that some describe. These are middle schoolers and will not be developing carpel tunnel pecking out a 35 page thesis.

It would probably never been said outright, but I would guess that this is also a hype/recruitment generator and cost cutter. Being a private school, we need to put kids in seats and IT is a shiny way to do it. I did not say it was the right reason and it's not the main reason, but I'm sure it's a factor. The iPad does have surplus hype. It even has a PC tech like me in its siren song.

When I started this thread, I thought that printing would be an easier nut to crack. I thought some of these file/sharing printing apps would be able to look at where the Pages docs are stored and send them to the printer. They don't... yet...and maybe they never will. I thought maybe Google Docs would work, it doesn't. We've also contemplated going greener and doing online grading with something like turn it in. The teachers seemed excited about that.

I guess what I am looking for from this thread is exactly what I'm getting. Rational people offering advice. Thanks.

We should be getting an HP Mini 5102 soon and I will see how that compares.
On the idea of iPad versus a Netbook, I can tell you that my experiences with net books have been less than stellar. I need to build a separate imaging and management structure, viruses and windows nagware become an issue, not having a CD drive is very limiting, and the form factor is too small for any real document creation, and the cost savings really wasn't worth the effort or the aggravation. I am well aware of the solutions to these problems; the time cost is too great.

For me, the iPad represents easy access to network assets, a rich platform for apps to come, ease of management and storage. As soon as google adapts their apps for the iPad and apple updates the server software to support the iPad, 90% of my students access and document creation needs are covered.

(written from my iPad)
The only solution for printing I can thing of is to write a script that processes an email with a pdf attached and sends it to a printer. Seems to me something like this would exist in the unix / linux realm of free tools; somebody must have solved this problem already.
I am a private school trustee and head up my kids school technology committee and have experienced a mini-experiment with iPads in 6th grade over the last month. We are exploring rolling out a 1 to 1 computer program in the middle school for the 2011-12 school year. I have twin boys in 6th grade who broke their banks to pay half of the cost for 2 iPad 16gb WiFi units on April 3 (we paid for the other half). We filled out our schools use policy and connected to the school's WiFi network and email and they have been carrying them to school everyday since. Here are some observations.

1) We have the Apple case which I think is critical for the use case for kids in a school environment. It certainly protects from scratches and doesn't add much bulk to the device and allows them to "throw" it into their current trapper keeper without needing a separate strapped carrier. It certainly won't protect the device from concrete drops but we will see how durable things like that are. the case does get scuffs and dirt (they are boys) but we've been able to clean them carefully with a damp cloth. I've investigated theft and spill insurance for the iPad which is $53 per year. That may be money well spent. when typing, they constantly use the device with the cover clipped into its holder that puts the device at about a 30 degree angle.

2) email becomes the default way into and out of the iPad. With the lack of printing (right now) and difficult file syncing through itunes, email is critical to sending files and pictures around to their teachers and themselves (from laptops and desktops to their iPad).

3) Pages and Keynote are good and necessary (I have had no request for numbers yet). I watched my 12 year old create a keynote presentation this weekend for a school project. He needed some photos to put into the presentation. We emailed the photos from our iMac to his ipad and he loaded, rotated, and sized the pictures with ease. Their main complaint in Pages is that there is no "tab" key on the screen keyboard. You must go to portrait mode and use a pulldown to get a "tab".

4) the main problem with Pages and Keynote is the lack of support for certain fonts and templates. importing already created documents onto the ipad usually gives an error message that certain fonts and formats are not supported. In one case, their class voted on a certain Pages template for a school project for creating a newsletter. Of course the template selected by the class was not on the iPad. I had to go to the desktop and save the selected template as a file and email it to the ipad in order to start using it.

5) The device is a great place to hold media and present it in class but at this point isn't prepared for media creation. We will probably look to have media labs with imacs at school (or use home computer) for people to do imovie or podcast creation and then send it over to the ipad for presentation. One boy created a podcast (audio) for a class project in garageband and he sent it over email to the ipad. He used the headphone jack to connect to the class speakers for playback. The other boy created an iMovie commercial for a class project which he imported into itunes and synced to the ipad. He connected the ipad to the class projector and speakers (using the headphone and VGA output connector) to present the commercial.

6) One main unintended problem is that the iPad is both a school tool as well as a gaming machine. We've noticed that they tend to use the device for games before and after school and yes, during recess. Beyond banning the device outside of classrooms (and then how do you do schoolwork outside the classroom?)), the school will have some difficulty policing this. Another boy in their grade with an iPad got caught playing a game in class. However, other kids who use laptops, I'm told, use widget games during class and avoid getting caught. Even with better administration tools, it may be a new problem to think about as it relates to your use policy.

7) Printing. As mentioned earlier, printing doesn't natively work and most of the after-market solutions aren't easy to use or force you to print through a computer on the same network that already has a driver for a particular printer. The good about this is saving paper! Seriously, our school spends a small fortune on printer paper and if he can't print, the student will simply email an assignment to the teacher to turn it in. What's bad about this is that printing support should be there for certain things and hopefully will be supported in the iphone OS 4.0 release this fall.

8) textbooks and pdf supplements. While its early for textbooks, I see our school potentially saving a lot of money and paper on teacher handouts if they can email the material to students or they download through the network or ultimately from ibooks. It is not there right now but has huge potential.

9) There are already note taking apps (using your finger) and I've seen my son use the simple drawing apps as a scratch pad for doing in-class math problems. I think graphing calculators will be a huge opportunity.

In conclusion, we've been looking to deploy a laptop 1 to 1 solution in middle school but are actively looking at the iPad as a potentially good solution for middle school students in terms of price, size, battery life (yes, they last all day so no lugging power adapters around or looking for plugs in classrooms). We will actively continue this analysis through the fall.

hope this helps
Thank you for sharing your observations. It's getting late and we have yet to pull the trigger.

I'm guessing that based on your 6th point, that you are not using any kind of restriction code for the app store to prevent installing unwanted apps?
no restriction at this time as these are owned by the students and there is currently no formal program in place. We have a few iPod touchs with content restrictions used in special education. Our conclusion so far has been to go with a lease to own program by the school so that there can be control by the school on apps and other downloadable info during the tenure of the student - at the end of the tenure (3 yrs) they can buy the device for a buck and take it on their merry way.
We just rolled out 37 iPads. 14 - to teachers, 20 - students 9th graders and 3 spare. We have a 1-1 laptop program already and are using the iPad as a supplement. So far the plan is going well. The iPad is an amazing tool. The configuration and management is still a little off but I'm sure that it will work it self out. I am documenting our deployment at http://fcdsblog.org/ipad/



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