iPads for Every Student! Now What?

Friday, November 16, 2012 -- Scott Sterling

It’s no secret that Apple’s iPad is the hottest gadget in the world right now, particularly when it comes to education. Between the endless library of apps and the smaller price tag compared to laptops, classroom adoptions have been brisk. Some schools are even using iPads to replace textbooks! That momentum should only grow with the recent introduction of the iPad Mini, a smaller, cheaper version of the original 10” tablet.

But just like the rest of our fast-moving technology, some educational leaders cannot help themselves from a wide-scale adoption of iPads without considering some issues that might crop up during the implementation process. Here are some things to think about before issuing that purchase order:

Is your faculty ready to maximize the iPad’s potential?
Just like in other technology adoptions, there is a segment of your faculty that is gung-ho and ready to use the new product right out of the box. Then there is the group that is still using the same Xeroxed worksheets from 20 years ago. Especially with a large adoption, you need to be sure everyone is on the same page in order to maximize your iPad ROI. Facilitate some in-service training – utilizing the gung-ho segment – to demonstrate the capabilities of the iPads and smooth out any wrinkles. The goal is to get everyone excited.

Where do the apps come from?
If you’ve ever been in the Apple App Store, the first thing you noticed was that apps are significantly cheaper than the traditional software licenses you are used to purchasing for your school. Apple even allows app developers to discount their products for the educational market. This changes how you budget for this new technology; you can be more creative with the source of the funds. Some schools have even gone so far as to create an “Apps Budget” out of another funding source.

Make sure your infrastructure is up to snuff
An iPad is certainly not useless if it’s not connected to the Internet, but lack of a connection certainly hampers its capabilities. It also causes a significant amount of whining among the users. During the roll out is too late to find out your school’s wireless network cannot handle this massive increase in traffic. Before the roll out, consult some of your district technology personnel to make sure your network can handle the extra load. If any improvements need to be made, make sure they are budgeted and accounted for before you back yourself into a corner.

The Next Level
Are there any other pitfalls that you have seen when it comes to adopting iPads? Please share your knowledge in the comments section below.

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