The Winds of Change (Real Life Observations)
This week has been a week of discoveries for me. There are a number of initiatives under way in our district, and a few of them have come to light. I wanted to share some of them.
- There is a strong rumor that every teacher in our district is going to receive a laptop this year, perhaps by the end of this school year, and most likely a Mac. All of these items represent a significant change in the way we do things. As of 2009, we were still an all-Windows district.
- We have two iPad carts at our high school. To my knowledge, nobody knew they were coming, and most teachers do not know they are here. I’m not sure how they will be integrated, but one source indicated that they would be assigned to a single teacher (one set per teacher). I’m about 99.9% certain that I’m not one of those teachers.
- I saw the new Configurator in use today. It makes much of the management of a set of iPads much easier, but there are still challenges. For example, certain functions must still be turned off on each iPad (e.g. Delete Apps), and a student can still set a lock screen password or change wall paper, as there are no security settings which override those functions. I heard some horror stories today about a middle school in our district where iPads have been in use for some time. Kids have been taking screen shots like crazy (cases of over 700, some R rated), setting pass codes (locking others out), and changing wall paper (sometimes to aforementioned R rated pictures). Granted, some of these issues can be addressed by teachers being better monitors of the situation, and it is a larger issue of classroom iPads versus 1-to-1 iPads. I had some issues with students changing wall papers on an iPad that I used as a test subject in y choirs (although the kids only used the stock iPad wall papers, not R rated materials). All this is to say that Apple has come closer to the answers needed for iPad management in schools, but they aren’t there yet.
- These are exciting times. Someone in our district has a clear plan and we’re moving forward. At the same time, it would be nice if they could share that plan with the end users (teachers and students) so that we can be inspired (or challenged) by the vision, too. I’d also like to know what the plans for training are. As a Windows to Mac convert, I can attest that there is a learning curve if you are familiar with Windows–quite a few people will be lost at first.