Tuesday, February 4, 2014

10 Reasons Your District Should Purchase iPads for Kids

Many districts are still struggling with their technology initiatives, wondering which device will best suit their needs; deciding student to device ratios, changing email systems, etc.  This post is for everyone in Bellevue Public Schools as confirmation of our initiatives and for other district technology leaders who are struggling with which way to go.  
We are now in year 2 of our iPad implementation and I can honestly say that the iPad is the only way to go.  You could go with a Chrome book, but then all you get are Google Apps.  You could purchase Nexus tablets, but then you only have access to Google apps- and yes, there is a difference between the quality and availability of Google Apps and iOS apps.  
Here are 10 Reasons Why Your District Should Purchase iPads
1) Going GAFE
Being a Google Apps For Education district may not seem an obvious reason to purchase iPads, but the two go together like chocolate and peanut butter!  You just can't beat it.  With Google apps like YouTube and Drive students move to a paperless and seamless workflow.  Teachers and students have instant access to their work anytime, anywhere.
2) Teachers want to create Blended Learning Environments for their students.
Blended Learning and the Flipped Classroom models become even better when kids have iPads in their hands.  These buzzwords are inspiring teachers to learn more, but feel unable to fully accomplish these goals without the technology for their students.
3) Your schools’ computer labs are full and teachers complain about not having access to online materials for their students.
Computer labs are traditionally used as a place to do online research, write papers, and administer state testing. All of this can be done on an iPad. Technology directors are faced with the decision whether to purchase more computers vs iPads  The decision becomes fiscally obvious that an iPad is the way to go.  It is cheaper, more reliable, easier to manage, and mobile.  We are able to accomplish all of these traditional activities and more on an iPad. We were even able to administer state testing on an iPad using Guided Access found in settings. It worked great and the entire testing process was less stressful and much faster.
4)  Teachers want to utilize online tools such as Kahn academy or Raz Kids on a daily basis.
Online subscriptions and accounts like Kahn Academy provides amazing data for teachers and allows for differentiation for our struggling students as well as our HAL or gifted students.  Raz Kids does the same thing for reading and provides those just right books for kids.  
5) Your teachers are getting really good at creating their own materials using iBooks Author.
If your district is like ours and teachers are utilizing the ability to create their own iBooks in iBooks Author, iPads are essential in accessing this content for students.  Content created in IBooks Author is hosted in Tunes U and opened on an iOS device.  iTunes U even solves the problem for students who may not have internet access at home.  Once the content is downloaded onto their iPad at school, they can work on it at home offline.  

6) You want your classrooms to be paperless and as a result save tons of money on printing and copying.
We have seen a dramatic decrease in our paper costs since our deployment of iPads.  Our teachers now PDF a lot of their curriculum content and share it out via Google Drive.  From there our students open the PDF’s in Notability, work on them there, and export them back to Drive.   
7) It is time to move away from a teach to the test environment and move toward a more creative school experience .
Almost every educator has read about, heard or, or sat through a session on 21st century skills and the critical need for creative students to emerge from schools.  The iPad facilitates creativity unlike any other device out there.  Apps like iMovie, Camera, and Garageband provide a space to play, experiment, and create.  Even apps like Numbers are creative canvases for projects and ideas.  So many of the apps we use like Explain Everything, Tellagami, and Skitch are perfect for app-smashing!  The possibilities are endless for students when it comes to project completion.
8) Your students already have devices at home and are getting way ahead of your teachers and are becoming disenchanted with their classroom.
I've seen it a thousand times in classrooms. The minute a student gets to use an iPad, their engagement and interests increases. The feel comfortable with iPads and understand how to access information when they need it. I feel bad for teachers who are intimidated by their students knowledge and comfort with technology. It takes a brave teacher to let the student take the lead sometimes. It is critical to provide enough training to teachers to be ready to teach with an iPad.
The amount of kids who have iPads at home has increased in our district and I bet its the same at yours.  Rolling out our most recent group of iPads was easier than ever due to this.  Students already knew some basic gestures and troubleshooting skills with iPads,  All we have to do is continue working with them to use it differently at school than at home.  Our teachers receive a lot of training prior to receiving iPads, but kids are used to these devices being gaming and internet surfing tools. Our job is to shift that mindset and empower kids to create, discover, and collaborate.
9) Access to iOS apps.
There are over one million apps available on Apple’s iTunes Store.  
We’ve narrowed down our essential apps, but knowing that we can easily customize a device for a students needs is empowering for teachers.  
I cannot say enough about the beauty of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers when it comes to apps that allow you to create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.  The ability to pull in media into these apps is unique in their design.  Garageband and iMovie give kids to explore creative ideas and projects as alternative assignments to written papers.  
10) Access to interactive textbooks to replace those out of date paper textbooks.
When its time for a curriculum adoption cycle, consider the possibility of an interactive book on an iPad as opposed to those heavy hardback books.  The iPad opens up a world of information and interactive information for students.  Their notes are inside their books and study cards can be created with a push of a button right inside of their course in iTunes U.  
I can’t say enough about the instructional possibilities with an iPad for teachers and students.  It continues to improve every year.  If your district cannot afford iPads for all students, then at least purchase one for every teacher.  Lay the groundwork for the future with this first step!  If your district would like more information on why go with iPads as opposed to other devices, don’t hesitate to tweet us at #tt4t!  

“If the goal cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goal, adjust the action steps.” Confucius
Written by: Jenny Krzystowczyk

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if this list will be reordered, and #7 moves to #1, after one reads Audrey Watters's post http://www.hackeducation.com/2014/02/04/the-history-of-the-future-of-ed-tech/. Technology can be so empowering, it's a shame it's been relegated to a content delivery model. I used to be on our building's technology committee and every time we met I said, "What are the kids doing?" Everything is so teacher directed. I guess it's just the way it is.