At my new school, we are in our second week of a 1:1 deployment of iPads. We are a smaller middle school (for a metro area school) with under 800 students. Our district also deployed iPads at three elementary schools and one high school.
My role in the iPad initiative is end-user support; I help students and teachers attempt to solve problems as they arise. I am not a decision-maker, nor am I a device manager.
The iPads themselves are formatted with Configurator, each being loaded with Casper device management. Our model is to let each device stand on its own (not a fully managed model) and to open the device and all its features to our students. We have a robust firewall, and we are taking broad steps to teach all aspects of digital citizenship in this digital world.
As a result, each iPad has to be set up individually, preferably with the student's parent and/or guardian at hand. We have learned that you have to set the age of the user as the parent's age (most middle school students do not reach Apple's former and still current age minimum of 13). If you mess up that step, you are blocked later in the process. We have learned to use our own Google Apps e-mail addresses for Apple IDs, as well as to handle passwords.
After devices are completely set up, we have to run Casper on each device. Casper allows us to distribute apps to students using iTunes redemption codes.
The decision-makers made the (wise) decision to only purchase and install Notability on these iPads, as iOS 7 will allow MDMs (multi-device managers) such as Casper to reclaim codes–meaning that schools will no longer “burn” money on apps purchased for students that move on. Apple's event also confirmed a rumor that Apple's iWork and iLife apps would be free–we're not sure if we will qualify as Apple's terminology at the event stated that these would be free for “new iOS users.” There are a lot of schools that just bought iWork and iLife apps–and there are others that held off. They might as well just make iWork and iLife free for everyone (I don't even mind that I paid $40 for those apps 3 years ago).
Our district guru set the iPads to each have a passcode. That has been a bit of a bane for us, as students have been forgetting their codes. If they let us know early enough, the district guru can use Casper to unlock the device–but if students try until the device is disabled, the entire process has to be gone through again. This means reformatting with Configurator, setting up the iPad, and running Casper.
We have been told that everything will be changing with iOS 7…from set-up to management. I'll be writing about that later, as well as adding material to my iBook.
In choir, the iPads are working fine. I have decided to use Chromatik for three main reasons. First, it is free. Second, it allows for easy score distribution (there have been complications). Third, it has the basic features we need in choir.
With the middle school format, I see about 225 students over a two-day period…about 1/3 of the school, with a very small 8th grade class (that small enrollment will change next year, I believe). At this point, I have seen each choir four times (seven classes scattered over two days). The first day was introductions, the second day was setting up Chromatik, and the third day was having them share a folder with me in their Google Drive account. The most recent day has been dealing with stragglers with Chromatik and Google Drive, and then finally getting down to some singing (we have warmed up each day and did some sight reading).
Chromatik works pretty well for us, but we have run into some complications. First, our Google Apps address is ridiculously long (apps.district833.org). Students make mistakes typing this address ALL THE TIME. Because they created Chromatik accounts with this address, many errantly made accounts with the wrong address, and then had to create an account with the right address. Second, Join Codes work really well for distributing material Unfortunately, the program doesn't seem to refresh correctly (even if you pull to refresh) unless you log out and log in again. This is an issue if the student created an account with an incorrect Google Apps e-mail address or forget their password. Additionally, Join Codes require you to choose an instrument, and if you choose an instrument that isn't represented in the original file (e.g. “guitar” instead of “choir”), nothing appears (only instruments that have uploaded parts should appear in that dialogue box). Finally, the band director has discovered that although you can upload different parts, such as 1st Clarinet and 2nd Clarinet, both show up in Chromatik as “clarinet,” and in a playlist, you cannot choose one or the other–and weirdly only one of the parts will show up in Chromatik after choosing that part. So Chromatik needs to add a way to upload 1st Clarinet, 2nd Clarinet, and all “parts” instruments.
From a personal standpoint, I would like to see the addition of a red pen, the ability to pin an audio file to a part so that my students could access that audio file to practice, and the ability to turn a page with a touch on the left or right hand side of a page, rather than a swipe (Add the addition of parts for our band director).
But there is no other app that will do what Chromatik can do…which is to centrally manage the songs on a playlist that are shared with a student–and allow us to delete those apps later.
I have also learned a lot about Google Drive and sharing folders. It is incredibly easy to do this via the updated Google Drive app, but my students had an extremely hard time following instructions. I asked them to create a folder like this:
HourDay LastName First Name Choir
My folder would look like this: 1B Russell Chris Choir
This lets me organize the folders by hour, by name, and the “Choir” lets the students know what class the folder is for.
I can't tell you how many different kind of folders that were created: everything from “chior [sic]” to literally “HourDay LastName First Name Choir”
I kid you not.
Also, sharing was difficult because the Google Apps e-mail addresses do not auto-populate like they do on the web browser, so students had to type in my account name (presented to them on a screen). Apparently typing two “s's” or “l's” is really hard–and as I've mentioned already, typing apps.district833.org is an agonizing thing. Some kids never even made it to the sharing point, thinking it was automatically shared.
So, I learned to pull up my Google Drive while these folders were shared with me (or attempted to be shared with me), and reading off names as they appeared. By doing so, there was immediate feedback and I could help those that needed help.
So, we basically “lost” two days–one to set up Chromatik, the other to set up “Google Apps.” They say you have to go slow to go fast.
The other thing I have learned is that I need to make students put their iPads under their chairs during attendance, announcements, warm-ups, and sight reading. Otherwise, students are on their iPads. I let them take out the iPads once we get to music and I attempt to monitor appropriate use (they should be on Chromatik) as we rehearse. Most of them are good about it–but they do like to color with their highlighter, pen, and white out that come as a part of Chromatik in class. I can lock students into Guided Access as necessary down the road, but as for now, I need to be at the piano helping them learn rather than walking around the room.
iOS 7 is supposed to let a teacher take control over an entire class of iPads…this would be beneficial, and we'll see what happens.
I should also mention that the iPads are encased in a Griffin Survivor case…green and black for 8th Grade, all black for 7th Grade, and red and black for 6th grade.
I'll write more as things develop, but so far, so good.