No one yet knows the right way to add iPads to education. But let's start with what we know iPads do well and expand from there.
Learn how to browse the internet, how to check your email, how to keep up with your reading and follow your interests. What the heck: Do crossword puzzles, play some games, take photos of people you know, play music. A teacher in this stage is still exploring the tool. Because you can't stop teachers from working, teachers are bound to research with the iPad, find photos and classroom tools, and do some school communications. Advanced work in Stage 1 will include creating whole lesson plans and moving them into a shared space such as Evernote or Google Drive.
If you have your iPad in hand in the classroom, you're probably in Stage 2. You're taking photos and videos. You're drawing lessons that can be replayed. You're capturing student work in lots of ways. The best outcome of Stage 2: Your iPad becomes a tool for capturing and publishing the life of the classroom. You not only collect artifacts but keep them organized and share them.
Many teachers jump right to this stage. They find a specific app that kids can learn from, they load it onto the iPad, and they give the students the chance to use that app. Often they give kids books to read on the iPad. The best outcome of Stage 3 is the move students to Stage 4. Apps that are, in themselves, such rich educational experiences that they're worth the time are rare. iBooks have a limited set of features that are genuine improvements over paper books.
If students know they can go to the iPad(s) to capture the work of the classroom and broadcast it, the iPads become vital everyday tools. They can create rich artifacts and publish them, just as the teacher did in Stage 2. But now students feel empowered to create with the iPad.
And for fun and wow:
When you least expect it, you might get this kind of message:
What does this mean? It means the district has bought an app for you. All you have to do is put your password in. Which password? The one that goes with your iTunes account. Look it up the first 7 times and you'll never have to look it up again. If all goes well, the app should download automatically on your iPad and on every iPad you manage (that is, with the same iTunes account). Alert us if you have any troubles.
Over time, the creators of iPad apps update them to fix bugs or add features. This will never happen automatically; you have to download the updates yourself. But your iPad will tell you that this needs to happen.
How you do it:
At some point, you want to have music, movies and other media that are not apps delivered to your iPad.
The process is a little trickier than it is for apps. The first one of your iPads to download the stuff will do all the work. The others have an easier job.
Your goal is to log in to the email account linked to the iTunes store. (I know, it's tricky. Bear with us.). If you're logged in as someone else (and you probably are), look in the lower left to see who you're logged in as. Tap that name, then tap “Sign into another account…”
Look up the name and password for the VISD email account. It will look something like CESiTunesClassrooms@vashonsd.org, with a truly nasty, complicated password you'll never remember (I dare you). You should find an email to that account saying the school bought you something. Open the email.
Now, this is a little tricky. It won't show images until you tell it to. Tap on “show all images.” One will be the button to redeem your gift. Tap it! The iTunes app (which, on the iPad, is only for buying music, not for listening to it) will begin downloading music for you. Great!
Now, on every other iPad with this account, you'll have an easier time.
Unfortunately, the District cannot buy you books directly. The good news is: We can send you gift certificates. This way you can buy the book (and usually have a little extra).
If you buy an iPad as a consumer, you create an account at Apple's iTunes Store. Usually, you set up the account and attach a credit card to the account. From there you can buy apps, music, books, movies and other goodies for your iPad.
Apple lets you do this for up to 10 devices — iPads, Macs, iPhones, etc. Any device linked to your iTunes account has a right to what you've bought.
VISD works a little differently. We organize iPads into groups of 10, and each iPad is linked to an iTunes account we've set up for you. The account has no credit card associated with it, so no one can buy anything for it.
The way to think of it: Pretend you're an Apple fan who loves iPads so much, you bought 10 and put them all on the same account. That way they can (but don't have to) all have the same books, movies, apps and so on.
We in the district buy the goodies for you and give them to you as gifts. The only way you have to use the iTunes account is give the okay for us to push this stuff at you.
Apps will be very easy. They'll go right at you, and most of the time you just have to tap “OK” and there it is. Music, books and movies take a little more work.
With you as the owner of the iTunes account, you can do things like update apps, update the system software and even try out free apps without having to call us for help. If the worst happens and the student finds out the account password (and this does happen), they can't buy anything with it anyway, so little harm is done. (Still, alert us if you think that happened.)
Please read through and find out how to do these basic jobs. We'll follow up with support as much as we can.
If you have a problem with your iPad, or if you want a new app, or if you want support on using an app, by far the fastest way is to write an email directly to Andy: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your problem feels larger than your iPad (the network is flaky, the printer is down, your chewing gum lost its flavor), contact the Helpdesk: email@example.com