I do not find the physical management of 22 iPads challenging. They need a place to charge and sync, they all need to be numbered (iPad, storage slot, charge cord) and a set of guidelines should be agreed upon. Next year, I will simply incorporate these guidelines in our regular classroom ones. I am still exploring appropriate consequences for misuse. Originally, as a class, we agreed that inappropriate use would result in the child not being able to use their device. Last week we came to a point where I was truly dumbfounded as to what the child would do without their iPad. (Would you take away a student’s pencil and paper as a consequence?) It was an exciting moment to recognize how purposeful the technology was, but also an intense moment of realization. Am I in too deep?
During the past few months I have found there to be three types of management issues. One I would categorize as learning how to use applications, the next would be technical difficulties, and finally work flow.
When students are asked to use an app I may explain a few basic aspects, but usually I assume they can figure it out. In the beginning if they came to me asking, “How do I… ?” I would claim to be clueless. Oftentimes that was true, but even when it was not I purposefully empowered my learners to be a team and find their own solutions. As soon as students caught on, that I would not feed them any solutions, they would ask around the room. If no one knew yet (say how to time their Keynote slides to 10 sec. each) they would hunker down to figure it out. Now, they have learned to Google it or look on YouTube for a tutorial. Elation fills the room as soon as one student shouts, “I got it!” Then the solution spreads like wildfire as they teach each other. Each time students do this independently their confidence builds. There is no comparison. The benefits of this type of learning compared to a teacher at the front narrating each step are paramount. As a result I do not need to figure out how to manage 22+ problems/questions while other students wait with their hands up. My student’s brains never go idle (while the hand is up) and they gain experience with those 21st century thinking skills that we always talk about.
Our technical difficulties are solved equally as often by adults and children. Some students take the initiative to try and figure it out in a variety of ways, but they all know the steps to try before coming to me. This includes exiting the app, restarting, reconnecting to wifi, etc… I will always ask the class, “Who knows how to…?”, or “Did anyone figure out how to fix…?” before I spend time thinking aloud to demonstrate how to trouble-shoot the issue. This models how to use our learning community for support. When all else fails we have an excellent tech support team that will respond by phone, email, or a pop-in for urgent matter. Tech support from a coach or technician is essential for successful implementaiton of any 1:1 program.
Work flow is yet another management issue. In the morning the first thing that students do is go to the wiki to read their morning message. Often times there is a task for them to complete before the day begins. (One is practicing math facts on MathBoard. I believe this is how all my forth graders have already achieved 50 facts under 3 min.) During the day I will occasionally ask students to email me their work so that I can check in on their progress (note taking, math journal pages, essays Pages, audio recordings, reading logs, etc…) I have filters in Gmail so I do not get overloaded with their work and I do not ask for it daily. Students can also email their work-in-progress to their parents and discuss it with them as part of their homework. Published student work is posted on the wiki and on their blogs with a reflection. Apps like Showme upload student work right to their site. For work that is on Showme and YouTubestudents can embed it right in their blogs.
Workflow is my current project. The tools we have now work well, but my aim is to minimize email use because I do not feel this is good use of it. I hope to explore GDocs, Edmoto and iCould more. Any and all suggestions are welcome.