A Month With Our iPads

We’ve had iPads here in the Education Department for a little over a month now. The University and the College of Arts and Sciences graciously agreed to supply the tools to everyone for administrative and instructional use. Now that we’ve gotten over the initial distribution, I’d like to share some of what we’ve learned so far…and continue to share over the coming months. I will also share other digital texts and tools that we have been using…along with all of the associated training materials.

Attributed to http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/

The initial rollout and distribution of the iPads went very smoothly. I could start mentioning names of specific people that made this all happen for us, but don’t want to leave anyone out inadvertently. As I stated earlier, the iPads were requested from the University to determine best practices in instructional and administrative uses. We need the tools to use with our new IT&DML program. The program will feature all class materials in iTunesU, and use the iPad to roll out all materials to students. In planning for this program, we thought it would be much more beneficial if all members of staff and faculty here have and use the tools. Additionally, K-12 and higher education schools are increasingly  moving to iPads, or a tablet environment. We wanted to make the iPad a part of our culture, and have rich discussion about the tool, and how it impacts on our lives and classrooms.

In the short amount of time that we have had the iPads, we’ve accomplished quite a bit. This period of time has been spent with each of us considering the ways in which the iPad can be a part of our workflow. My workflow is a little abnormal from the remainder of our faculty. I do the majority of the reading, light writing, and communicating from my phone. I also religiously carry my MacBook Pro from work, to home, to conferences…everywhere. Other members of our faculty do all of their work on the PC in their office…and never veer from this.

The first step is to have everyone carrying the iPads around and finding a place for it in their lives. This means finding out how to install Dropbox, what exactly is Pandora, how to install the Amazon Kindle app, etc. The rationale for some of this personal use of the iPads is that if we find use and value in the tool, we’ll start to use it for many more purposes. I’ve worked on many rollouts of technological and ICT tools, including iPads…and the first hurdle is having people pick up and use the tools. I believe that we’ve gotten through this initial step at this point. We have questions about how to use the NPR app…how to email from the iPads…how do I know what apps to install. Gradually our questions are migrating to…”So now what do I do with it?” This is great progress.

As we make this next leap, we have to negotiate several questions. We’ve worked through the questions about accessories for the iPad. There is always a question about screen covers, cases, adapters, and all of the other trappings that are “needed” by the iPad. We also have had to engage in conversations about the purchasing of apps for the iPads, and which apps will help us do our jobs. I have been in discussions with the University to identify apps that they can purchase and load on the machines. I also have been trying to utilize a virtual desktop that faculty can use to log in, and effectively use that PC in their office that I discussed earlier. We also are investigating how to best connect the iPad to the “smart classrooms” that we currently use at our Saw Mill campus. All of these discussions and agreements take time to investigate, test, and agree upon. As we uncover more of these answers…I’ll share them here.

So…a month into using our iPads we have everyone carrying them around, installing and deleting apps. Using them for reading, writing, and some research. For the most part, we’re still using them as content consumption devices. Have we been using them instructionally yet? No. Have we been using them administratively? No. But, we’re getting there. Our next step is come to some sort of closure with the University on the subject of apps, virtual environments, and projection equipment. We also will start to define and develop uses for the iPad in our workflow, and how to use it for “office” work. Finally…we plan on getting to the really exciting stuff with the iPads…content construction.

When we get there…we’ll let you know. We’re on our way.

 

 

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