In my last post I wrote about the five schools in our division that have been selected via an application process to participate in a one-to-one project using netbooks. The first year involves providing all teachers with a netbook and a learning program to explore the technology, the learning and the management of a one-to-one program. The following year students would be issued with netbooks in a configuration (one-to-one; two-to-one, grade-based, etc.) determined by their teachers.
When I met with the administration of Connaught Community School, they tentatively broached the idea of considering iPads as their one-to-one project.
I took their idea back to the Director of Education and the division’s IT Manager who agreed that this would be an idea worth exploring. We all agreed however, that the teachers needed to have a clear understanding of the pros and cons of such a venture prior to purchasing the iPads. We needed to know that they understood that the iPad is very much an unknown and that they were prepared to handle the uncertainties over the course of the year.
I informed the principal and we set up a time for me to meet with the staff. I took my iPad and passed it around and when the teachers were informed that this was indeed a possibility there was both a sense of excitement and trepidation in the room.
I explained to the teachers that while the division was willing to support an iPad project in their school we needed to know that they understood the pros and cons. I asked each teacher to research the use of the iPad in the context of their grades and specialties and to provide their administrator with what they had learned. If, when the research had been completed, the school still wanted iPads as their mobile device for the one-to-one project we would proceed with the purchasing.
About a week later the administrators, the schools key technology teachers, and I met. The principal had talked with each teacher and had recorded his or her pros and cons. They were excited by the possibilities offered by the mobility of the device, the long battery life, the number and varieties of apps that would facilitate differentiated learning, and the e-book possibilities offered by the device.
Issues such as the cost of and the management of downloading of apps, no access to well-used, educational flash games, monitoring of student use, impact on bandwidth and using a first-generation product were major concerns expressed by the teachers. They acknowledged that many of their questions and concerns could not be answered until they used the devices and so informed me that they, as a staff, were ready to proceed with year one of an iPad one-to-one project.
The iPad have been ordered for the 14 teachers and we all eagerly await the learning that will follow.