Lost in the shuffle of the "are iPads effective in the classroom or not?" debate and all the rosy videos of kids happily staring at Khan Academy all day is the back end of all this technology. There is an infrastructure required to support all these devices. There is maintenance that has to be done. These devices are not intended to stay in a steady-state for 10 years, like your standard issue TI-84. Operating systems are updated, apps are updated, and eventually, operating systems and apps are no longer supported. A 2010 iPad was supported by iOS 3, 4, and 5. An iPad 2 runs iOS 4, 5, 6, and you'd hope 7. New apps are already starting to require iOS 6 which doesn't run on a 2010 iPad. So what are these technology deployments going to look like in 2017 when it's the same batch of iPad 2s, iOS 11 is standard issue, and the last time someone released an app for an iPad 2 was in 2014?

People working in the technology industry may not be aware that schools don't have the resources to buy a brand new batch of iPads every two years. Some might, but most don't. iPads aren't even close to standard issue anywhere, and forget about 1:1 being the norm. Seems like the same problems we had 10 years ago when every kid in Maine got an iBook. What was that like 3 years into the program?

The folks behind app development need to keep the lights on, so the product has to stay fresh, and a healthy app is a maintained app. Which creates this constant nightmare:

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When it's your personal computer, no big deal. Maybe let the updates accumulate a little and knock them out at once. Two computers? Slightly more annoying because you're probably running the same stuff on each which means "yes I know that was updated, my other computer told me, just go away already." Keeping things up to date on 13 iPads? OMG. I don't even have much loaded on my student iPads (~10 apps) and in the 4 months since they were given to me, I'm not sure a week has gone by without SOMETHING demanding to be updated and there was the iOS 5 --> 6 transition. Right now each student iPad says 11 things need tending to, plus "iOS 6.0.1 is available, would you like to install?"

Is anyone forcing me to manage this? No. Will anything break if I don't update? Probably not. But in the "go go go" world of app development, the people behind this stuff are sure making it SEEM like you need to, lest you get left behind with a version they no longer care about supporting.

For right now, everything's fine. I have an infrastructue in place for working with iPads. We do some neat things from time to time. But is this sustainable for another year? 2? 5? Who is responsible for maintaining these things? The overstretched IT staff? The teacher?

Education seems incompatible with the bleeding edge. Texas Instruments is totally ok with this.

Posted
AuthorJonathan Claydon
TagsiPad