Friday, April 1, 2016

Apple iPads Just Got School Friendly - Almost.

For those of you who follow my blog, you may have noticed that I have not necessarily been the biggest fan of iPads in education. I know, I know, this is in stark contrast to seemingly 99.9% of others in my field, but let me explain. While the iPad is very kid friendly and has loads of great apps for kids, it has not been school friendly due to Apple's insistence that the iPad is a personal device and as such is optimized for 1:1 use. So much so, that trying to use iPads with multiple students sharing the same device in a school setting has been extremely cumbersome due to iCloud issues, app installation complications, and saved student work snafus. And while 1:1 implementation may sounds like a great solution to these issues, due to its price point, 1:1 implementation of iPads in schools is not realistic in most situations. Even district-wide 1:1 implementation of Chromebooks, which are significantly cheaper, has not been financially feasible where I work.

So this is why I'm so excited about the potential implications of iOS 9.3 and the associated Classroom app that was recently released. According to Apple's website, the Classroom app will allow students to share iPads by logging in to the device. Students will have their picture on their assigned iPad and for younger students, will be able to log in with a 4 digit pin. I think I hear angels singing!


What's more, there's a feature called "screen view" that will allow teachers to see any student's iPad screen on their own screen. I'm hoping that you can see a tile view of all your students' screens on the teacher screen as well. Additionally, teachers will be able to launch and lock apps and reset forgotten passwords. Seriously, I am insanely excited about these features.

I was all set to explore the app today with one of our fantastic IT guys, when I learned that it's not quite ready for prime time yet. In order to use the Classroom app, some work has to be done on the back end to enroll the device. If you visit school.apple.com, you're supposed to see a preview of everything, but the site is not yet fully up and running and devices cannot yet be enrolled. Argh! Bummer!!

I also learned that the Classroom app will only work on newer devices (Air 2 & Mini 4 at a minimum), whereas most of our schools have older devices. Double bummer!!

According to our Apple rep, things should be ready to test in about a week and a half. And so we wait. However, know that I will be sharing our findings on my blog just as soon as we can start exploring!!

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