iPad integration – notes on the process

iPad integration notes:

While this blog will not center on the technology of 21st century learning specifically, most of my work will incorporate the technology I have or will have and how it can affect pedagogy. My focus will remain on working with technology in the classroom to improve and increase engagement of all students throughout the learning and thinking process in addition to procuring new methods of individualized learning that can be achieved at a classroom level.

This entry, however, will focus on the process just completed which effectively configured 20 iPads to use in my classroom. The devices will function out of a cart that powers and syncs up to 30 devices. In that I do not have more than 18 students in my class at a time, the cart will sufficiently facilitate the learning process for a typical class in addition to allowing the occasional visitor first-hand access to the day’s lesson (of course, the extra iPads will come in handy should the probable “wear-and-tear” occur, making one of the other devices inoperable. 
Here is a the general procedure we used for installing a load out on the iPads in the cart:

1. Unpack and organize materials 
     -iPads, cases, screen covers, stylus pens, Mac Mini (control device we chose to purchase for the cart)
2. Apply school coding system to the devices (stickers, registering serial numbers, and establish device names that will identify devices in the configuration software)
3. Install screen covers and place devices in cases
4. Turn on Mac Mini and register iTunes (along with the computer itself)
5. Download the Apple Configurator software from the Mac app store
6. Purchase free apps in iTunes, and redeem codes for paid apps after purchased using volume purchase program
7. Plug in one iPad to the Mini and build an image with backups of that image, first with free apps only, then with paid apps
8. Plug cart into Mini and then attach each iPad to the cart sequentially
9. Configure all iPads based on the backup created from the first image (done just after iPads are prepared by Configurator, completed automatically upon first sync

At any time you may adjust an iPad and rebuild the profile of that iPad based on any changes to its restrictions or look and feel of the home screen layout. All other iPads can then be refreshed with this new profile version. The Configurator software is a real life saver; it makes managing a large number of devices a snap. There may be some bugs still left behind (why you should ever have to leave the program to purchase apps is beyond me…Apple still treats iTunes and the Configurator as two different processes that achieve the same thing), but all in all this 3rd version of the Configurator is pretty good.

So now I have a completed cart with a recorded and executed process to build more. While I didn’t like the fact that we had to “figue out” how everything worked, as in a standard has yet to be established, our method will function and is repeatable on future carts. We have a more step-by-step process documented which has all of the details down to the button click, but this blog isn’t purposes for that kind of technical report. If you want that documentation, email me.
So this is officially the end of stage two: acquisition and setup. Stage three will
discuss the apps that I have downloaded for the iPads. 

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