Some Lessons Learned in Duluth, Minnesota

The beautiful Historic Old Central High School Building, now home to Duluth’s Administrative and Other Services.

Yesterday, I had the honor of helping the Music and Art Teachers of the Duluth Public Schools–and a few vistors–kick off their Teacher-Based iPad Program, which is in conjunction with a grant from the Perpich Center of the Arts. It was a gorgeous day in Duluth–80 degrees and sunny, and almost a shame to be indoors (right off of Lake Superior, of course). But we had work to do. Duluth is a progressive district when it comes to technology, but like every district, there are technical challenges and IT policies that teachers struggle with.

Looking out from HOCH towards Lake Superior. Gorgeous day!

I blog about my experience yesterday because Duluth’s approach to iPad deployment may be of benefit to your district or your school.

Each teacher was given an iPad (32GB New iPad), an Apple TV, an iPad Case (I think it was the Belkin Cinema Case, which is very similar to the Monoprice Case I received and blogged about earlier today), an iPad charging brick and a 30 pin cable, and a screen protector. Specific teachers were given a Kanex ATV Pro to convert the Apple TV’s signal output from HDMI to normal VGA/audio (some have HDMI projectors and do not need a Kanex unit), and all teachers received an iTunes card. Staff members were given their iPads that morning when they arrived, so they were taking them out of the box at the start of our training sessions.

Because the iPads don’t actually belong to the district, the district did not want teachers to use a school e-mail address for their iTunes account. At the same time, teachers were asked to use the iPads for their school e-mail. Apple has a policy where it has asked schools to NOT use iCloud (This has to change in the future). So it was a unique situation of being both connected and not connected to the school and various resources.

One of the problems we encountered is that there were teachers without personal e-mail accounts. If you are technologically minded, you may have a hard time understanding that (I have at least seven e-mail addresses), but many people only use their professional e-mail address. A few teachers were concerned about giving Apple their personal e-mail address. A good solution for teachers without an e-mail address or concern about using their personal address was for those teachers to create an iCloud e-mail address for an iTunes account to, while using iCloud for nothing else.

Keeping passwords straight was a challenge for a number of users.  Specifically, Apple’s newer requirement of 8 digits, with one number, one Upper Case, and one lower case, caused issues. I would definitely change my approach to this area of confusion the next time, asking people to take notes with this information:

iTunes e-mail address:

iTunes password:

Personal e-mail address:

Personal e-mail password:

Everyone moves at a different pace, and as a tech trainer, you get accustomed to that. And you try to make everyone feel comfortable.

The next challenge came with having the teachers redeem their iTunes gift cards. After you try to redeem a card (with an iTunes account without a credit card), Apple asks for personal information (Name, Address, City, Zip, Phone Number) and they try very hard to get you to connect a credit card to the account. For some reason, a number of the newly created iTunes accounts would not allow teachers to submit their personal information and came up with an error code, telling them to contact customer service. Of course, there is no easy way to contact Apple and to get help when you need it, particularly when the closest Apple Store is 2.5 hours away. So those people, unfortunately, were locked out of purchasing and installing apps for the rest of the day.

Now, if you’ve realized that by creating a personal iTunes account, or by using an existing iTunes account, those teachers would personally own those apps instead of the district–you are right. That was the intent. The gift cards will be dealt with as part of their compensation package during the year. So any apps they download, they keep to use on any future device they own. And the iPads they are using can be wiped clean and treated like a new iPad.

It took a surprising amount of time to get everyone to the point where their iPad was setup with the network, e-mail, to the iTunes store, with a gift card redeemed. Some teachers were not able to even get this far because of technical issues. I’m wondering if Apple blocks an IP address where too many accounts are being created/codes being redeemed at the same time. I’ve asked Duluth to let me know what the eventual solution will be.

The music teachers were asked to download a specific core of apps, which differed by level.

Elementary Teachers were to download:

  • forScore
  • My First Classical Music
  • Musicitonary
  • GarageBand
  • RecorderMaster
  • Dustbuster
  • Noteshelf
  • Soundnote
  • Penultimate
  • iBooks
  • Goodreader
  • PDF Notes
  • Numbers
  • Pages
  • Page Helper
  • Keynote
  • Notion
  • SmartMusic
  • Paper by 53
  • Avid Scorch
  • Finale Songbook

Secondary Teachers had a similar list:

  • forScore
  • Cleartune
  • Musicitonary
  • GarageBand
  • Noteshelf
  • Soundnote
  • Penultimate
  • iBooks
  • Goodreader
  • PDF Notes
  • Numbers
  • Pages
  • Page Helper
  • Keynote
  • Notion
  • SmartMusic
  • Paper by 53
  • Avid Scorch
  • Finale Songbook

You can see how this wide range of apps will allow each iPad to be highly flexible for each teacher in their given situation.

After (the majority) of iPads were up and running, I held two of the five sessions that I had planned on running. The first was my “iPad tips and tricks” session I’ve been offering, and the second was my “introduction to how the iPad can be used in music education.”

Originally, we were going to split the elementary and secondary educators, showing them how to use some of the apps they had downloaded (e.g. a PDF music reader like forScore, Noteshelf, and Keynote) in their specific grade-level and content area, but we ran out of time. Instead, I demonstrated how I use my iPad in the secondary choral rehearsal, with the apps and resources that I use, and then I tried to show how Noteshelf could be used in place of an Interactive White Board for a lesson on rhythm. We tried to answer questions as they sprung up throughout the day.

We were also fighting some wi-fi issues (the network was being worked on) so I was not able to demonstrate the actual iPad to Apple TV setup…but I did my best to explain it. I ended up having to utilize my MacBook, creating an AdHoc Network and running Reflection. There is a bonus to this: you can actually stream more than one iPad at a time! This is ideal for having one iPad in “document camera” mode, and another in Keynote mode (Apparently, you can send as many screens as you have Network width). Here are some screen shots of up to three iPads mirroring at the same time:

Reflection, AirPlay with one iPad

Reflection, mirroring two iPads. Ideal for an IPad as a document camera and an iPad as a Keynote

Just to show it can be done: Reflection mirrored with three iPads.

Were I to present in this type of situation again, I would suggest that the iPads be unpackaged and iTunes accounts created before the first session. iTunes accounts can be created on a computer, too.  Most schools wish to maintain and control the use of school iPads, so the free Mac iPad utility Configurator can be used to do so; Configurator can also be used to “start off” and iPad without managing it. Even with these tools and external tools like Casper, iPad management is a tricky affair and what works for you may not work everywhere.

Regardless of the technical difficulties we experienced, it was a good day with a very receptive music education (and visual arts education) staff at Duluth, and I wish them the best as they start the year!

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