The coming school year will be notable for a number of reasons, among them: no more iPads in my classroom.

RT OMG WHAT? EDUCATOR SWEARS OFF iPAD FOREVER, THE REASON WILL SHOCK YOU

It sounds like a big deal, but not really.

Use Cases

In 2012 we were given 4 iPads for classroom use by the district. My class sizes were hovering at about 30 and I knew that wouldn't be enough to have much of an impact. Slowly, through donations, personal purchases, and some additional school purchases I peaked at 33 iPads of varying vintages by spring of 2016.

In that four year span, I attempted everything. I look at distributing and collecting things via Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud photos, you name it. I tried playing around with various apps only to find that the best workflow involved a word processor, Desmos, photos, and a printer. None of those components specifically requires an iPad. It was easy and worked every time, but it could be replicated with other methods if necessary.

Over a year ago I started to realize that there was nothing iPad-y about the way I used them, opening up questions about where my tech use goes from here. In fact, the simple use case I had was beginning to become more tedious as software pushed ever forward but the hardware aged (about 2/3 of the stock had 2011-era internals).

Headaches

Managing that many iPads yourself is a pain. Mobile Device Management systems require business Apple IDs to use most of the features. Acquiring a business Apple ID requires that you own and operate an actual business, with tax ID numbers and all that. Apple makes an app called Configurator that's allegedly for this purpose, but I'm not linking to it because it never worked. Where does that leave me? Manually updating iOS thirty some odd times, retyping iCloud credentials constantly, retyping the WiFi password when the security certificate expires every week or so, and having to wipe each device at the end of each school year. Plus the cost and time associated with my charging system.

Relatively simple work, but bleh.

Onward

As cloud computing became a real, viable thing for student work (Google Docs in 2012 was uh, yeah...and it's still so-so on iOS), and as a 1:1 Chromebook pilot in AP English 4/AP Government proved useful, I started looking at Chromebooks as an alternative. Price wise it's equivalent to a refurbished iPad mini, with none of the maintenance headaches and batteries that last for-e-ver. Also, Summer Camp proved the ideal test market. It was a small group of kids, the librarian had nothing else to do with the Chromebooks for the summer, and in the years since we started tech deployment, every kid has a Google account. In the end? Totally frictionless.

A small technical hurdle was solving the Chromebook printing problem, but that wasn't terribly difficult. Some detail on that later, but the easiest way involves a printer with Ethernet (and boy did I purchase a monster).

Having a class set (which the district is providing, for that I am grateful) combined with teaching kids that will be issued one to take home (through other classes) will open up some opportunities. It was already handy for accessing Calculus solutions, and will make some of the deeper parts of Desmos more accessible.

Posted
AuthorJonathan Claydon
TagsiPad