iPads for teaching staff

Having moved schools at Easter, I am now the computing lead for a two form entry school in addition to teaching a year 5 class. The school took this year as an opportunity to work with the new curriculum for all the subjects outside of maths and literacy. However, when it came to the new computing curriculum they identified that additional input was needed. Consequently, they added the computing lead role to a KS2 teaching post that became available and this is the role that I have taken on.

One of my first jobs was to help deploy a set of iPad Airs that have been ordered for the teaching staff. There is one for each teacher and they arrived just in time for the summer holidays, so staff have time to play and learn on them home. We have a set of 8 iPad minis which were bought with a charging trolley and sorting and syncing the iPads is managed by our IT support contractor using Meraki.

We supplied the iPads to staff with the standard iOS7 apps and a few free ones (see blow).

We have also allowed them to explore the App Store and have a small budget to try and buy other apps. As a staff we can decide which apps we will add to everyone’s iPads using the Volume Purchasing Program. I’m hoping this will help to give staff a sense of ownership and the joy of discovery of great apps, whilst trying to prevent us ending up with hundreds of apps that don’t get used and multiple versions of apps that do similar things. Dughall McCormick suggested we try App Parties – 5 minutes at the start or end of every staff meeting to share any new apps staff have found, or how they have used the apps we already have. A fabulous idea that should help us learn and share together.

We will be using airserver to mirror the iPads on our interactive whiteboards. Staff have asked for visualisers, but we may hold off on those until after I’ve shown them mirroring! As these are new iPads, they will have iMovie, garage band, Pages, Numbers, iPhoto and Keynote for free (though this require separate download and installation which took some time!). Of course, there are lots of ways these can be used in the classroom, but there are still a few ‘essentials’ I’d like to add. The aim here is to provide apps that all can be used in a wide variety of ways and in a variety of contexts.

So far the list of ‘essentials’ includes:

A way of getting stuff on and off the iPads!
Our IT support recommended this. A sort of Dropbox, it allows direct connection to our shared planning drive, which all staff already access through VPN on laptops and desktops. This will enable staff to upload documents, photos and any other material created on the iPads to the shared system. It can also create links to be shared outside the system using password protection. However, the cost of this is now looking prohibitive, so I’m looking for alternatives.

Google earth (free)
A great way to quickly give children real perspective on where they are in the world.

Pic collage (free)
I used this almost daily in my last school. This has so many uses and a great way to quickly make attractive collages of photos for books, displays, story planning, explaining, labelling and identifying.

QR code reader and creator
QR codes are a great way to link to digital content. A quick way for children to find a website that you want them to use without being able to read, or copy complicated URLs. Link to audio or video content to make interactive displays. Create treasure hunts, use in geography for orienteering style challenges.

For learning programming for KS1 and a great companion to actual beebots.

Explain everything £1.99 (half price for educational use on VPP)
A whiteboard style app has been a game changer for many teachers in the classroom. Again can be used in many ways for example in plenaries to show work, for modelling, peer marking or demonstrating. Used by children, this can also be effective way for them to show what they know about a subject by making guides for others to use (e.g. How to use the grid method for a two digit multiplication sum).

Book creator £2.99 (half price for educational use on VPP)
Although the new iPads will have pages, book creator enables children and teachers to quickly create beautiful books with added sound. There is a free version that lets you create one book for free, the paid version allows unlimited book creations.

Volume Purchasing Plan
Setting up the VPP was straightforward but as we don’t have a credit card, setting up a payment system using Purchase Orders was long and painful, a process I started before the summer holidays and is still dragging on! To be fair, I didn’t chase it over the summer but it takes several steps which involve our business manager so between us it has slowed things down.

I’ve already seen that staff are beginning to use their iPads for iMovie and pic collage. I’m looking forward to encouraging their use everyday.


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