Saturday, 27 July 2013

iPads in Education

8 million iPads have been sold to educational establishments.
This is a remarkable figure and illustrates how many ‘decision makers’ have chosen the iPad as a tool for learning. As we integrate the iPad into schools it is worth reflecting how the initial setup and training can have a real impact on the success or failure of a 1:1 programme.
The recommendations below are borne out of a desire to help teachers without overwhelming them and to model good practice to students. There are many apps that could have been chosen, but those mentioned below areconsidered generic and able to serve a purpose across the curriculum.
Early engagement can be facilitated by linking email accounts to the iPad and suggesting users sign up to apps like Zite and Flipboard. Interest in the content means that basic gestures on the device will be used. Sharing of information helps to introduce the options available to users and when coupled with the camera roll, can lead to greater understanding of ‘sharing’ options.
In my opinion it is crucial to model good practice particularly when the distraction element of the device is apparent. Whenever I use the iPads with students there are different levels of instruction to ensure the device remains a tool for learning. From ‘screens off’, to ‘cases closed’, these instructions should be followed throughout any training sessions. In particular, it is important they are used with other staff in the room so classroom management has a common strand for the students to follow. Similarly, if a student doesn’t follow instruction, a consistent approach is required when dealing with the student and their iPad. One of the biggest fears for educators is that the device will be used inappropriately. Ensuring classroom management techniques are included in the Acceptable Use Policy is one way to make sure educators have a frame of reference.
It has become clear that because of iPad introduction educators are having to consider pedagogy. Therefore the device must enhance current practice as well. Consequently, it is a good idea to choose apps that can be used for collaboration, Assessment for Learning and workflow. I’d suggest using Socrative for AfL, Explain Everything for collaboration and Edmodo for workflow. (Please follow the hyperlinks for explanation)
It is very easy to wow an audience with what an iPad can do in the classroom but that leads to a ‘show’ with no follow up. The nuanced applications that have an element of awe and wonder tend to have a very short shelf life when it comes to the classroom. Indeed a number of subject specific apps are suitable for use once or twice a year. I would suggest demonstrating those apps that meet the demands of workload. Put another way, educators need to understand how Dropbox will work to share information with students or Edmodo will allow them to annotate and grade assignments without paper. They don’t necessarily need to see the amazing Solar Walk or Aurasma just yet.
For students, it is about understanding that they can still meet the requirements of workflow on the iPad as well as having fun with the new toy. I strongly suggest incorporating iMovie into any training programme as the level of effort students put into such projects is unsurpassed. I am a firm believer that any work that will be shared with ‘the world’ always focuses the mind of a student. The fact that an iMovie project is likely to be shown to a class means students take greater pride in making sure content is correct.
Notability would be the first app I would use to demonstrate how students can work in a way they will recognise on the iPad. Acting as an interactive exercise book, Notability has many features that the students and staff will become comfortable with. However, the initial impression is always one of understanding as workflow seems comparable, apart from the lack of paper!
There are a number of options available to schools that allow for collection and assessment of work. They cater for a mixed platform environment as well as 1:1 iPads. Personally, I would ensure students and staff are comfortable with Edmodo and Dropbox as applications to help with workflow between student and teacher. The key is to remove any barriers to the initial setup. I would spend time linking iPads to individuals’ Dropbox accounts and trialling the interaction between stakeholders in a room full of troubleshooters. Once educators grasp how easy the workflow can be there are a number of lightbulb moments that centre around ease and efficiency. It is particularly satisfying when educators realise the student can’t make the excuse of printer problems!
Perhaps the most important. Each class needs experts that will be able to troubleshoot for teachers and students alike. Take time to work with them them and give them access to as many training sessions as possible. Digital Leaders should  help all the way through the training process and perhaps badge them so they are easily identifiable. Teachers will be very thankful that there are three or four individuals who are able to help with the technology in the classroom. It might even make them more prepared to try something new. It is worth remembering that, once an individual gets to grips with the iPad interface, many applications have a similar functionality. The ‘safety net’ that Digital Leaders can provide is invaluable.
They might even run a Genius Bar for you!
On reflection this post is more about the approach than the specifics. When it comes to implementing something new in the classroom, inevitably there is resistance to change. We see it as our remit to remove as many barriers as possible and take small steps to allow individuals to decide where the iPad will fit in the learning process.
I would be very interested to hear any thoughts on the implementation of iPads in education from those just starting out to experienced practitioners.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Mobile technology has changed the workplace with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon becoming an increasing trend in business. Employees are requesting to use their own devices at work, blurring the lines between their professional and personal lives.
But whilst employees are happy to blur the lines between their personal and professional lives and the devices they choose, it raises concerns for IT departments across the UK who are tasked with the management and security issues that an array of personal devices brings, coupled with the implementation of policies and clear guidelines for device usage in the workplace.
In this article we explore the BYOD trend and showcase how Interm IT Essex and our partners Cablers can help you to implement a successful Bring Your Own Device strategy.

BYOD: Should you leave your employees to their own devices...

The trend for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or IT consumerisation is here to stay, with the expectation set that the number of businesses allowing their employees to use their device of choice for work is growing each year. This brings many benefits to the company, including flexible working options, increased productivity and better employee engagement with those who are afforded the opportunity of choosing their own technology devices.
But whilst employees are happy to blur the lines between their personal and professional lives and the devices they choose, it raises concerns for IT departments across the UK who are tasked with the management and security issues that an array of personal devices brings, coupled with the implementation of policies and clear guidelines for device usage in the workplace.
A BYOD strategy will need to be considered in order to make BYOD a success within your business environment, with a specific focus on security, device management and the delivery of enterprise applications to your workforce.
There are many security implications, which unless handled correctly can compromise your business. IT departments have a responsibility to ensure that business data is protected on their employee’s devices, by developing and maintaining a mobile device policy for compliancy and peace of mind should the worst case scenario happen. This coupled with remote access to the device and also the ability to remote wipe a device in the event of loss or theft will further protect sensitive business data.
The policy should make clear to employees the boundaries between corporate and personal use and which activities and applications are supported by the company so that there can be no blurred lines or ‘grey areas’ when it comes to usage.
Interm IT Essex and Cablers  are experts in the BYOD phenomenon and our team can offer professional advice, address your concerns and help you to implement a successful BYOD strategy for your business.

BYOD: The benefits:
·         Increased Productivity: If your employee is empowered to use a device of their choosing, they are more likely to use the device for work purposes when they are not in the office
·         Save Money: There is a potential cost saving on the cost of each device to your business with employees contributing to some or the entire purchase price of their own device.
·         Employee Satisfaction: If your employee has chosen the device they are using, the knock-on effect is a happier employee and potential for staff retention in the long-term

Ruckus BYOD

Ruckus how it Works