After a colleague pointed me towards Fraser Speirs and I saw what he was doing in his school in Scotland I wanted to test the application of the technology in my own classroooms.
We have two classrooms set up to compare technology use:
The first has a smartboard, projector, Mac Mini, teacher laptop and various peripherals (monitor to mirror mac mini, speakers, hdmi cables, etc).
The second has a 55″ LCD television, iPad, AppleTV, teacher laptop and various peripherals (elmo, hdmi cables, etc).
The first thing that I noticed was that visual acuity was significantly better in the classroom with the LCD television. You could walk anywhere in the classroom and see the screen clearly. Once everything was set up, however, the first problem reared it’s head. The wireless connection. The teacher’s iPad used Airplay mirroring to connect to the AppleTV and then display on the television. The AppleTV also got it’s internet connection wirelessly from an Airport Extreme that was a few feet outside the classroom in the hallway. With two points of wireless connectivity her iPad frequently dropped it’s connection. The solution was to have the AppleTV connected via ethernet and not get it’s internet from a wireless access point. We tried again and there was a noticeable difference in both speed and stability. The
When I first came to the Linsly School four years ago only ten of the faculty had email accounts from the school’s local internet provider. At the time we were paying a large sum of money per month for a T1 line that gave us balanced bandwidth, albeit with slow speeds. It was a priority to get email accounts to all faculty and administrators at the school if I was going to move ahead with any more technology initiatives. Coming from a FirstClass school, I knew that our budget wasn’t going to allow for a robust email and conferencing software suite and we didn’t have the manpower to administer an Exchange server. I have always loved Google and their products and have had a GMail account almost since it’s conception. Enter Google Apps for Education. The timing was perfect. They were in their infancy and we had need of a robust, easily manageable software suite that included email and calendaring (I’ll get to the collaborative document sharing in another post). We didn’t have anything to migrate as the faculty who had the old email accounts didn’t really use them. Those that did were shown how to export their messages to be imported later.
During the 2010 – 2011 school year, 20 iPads were given to the faculty through a variety of different sources of funding (grants, the LPA, etc). We chose the iPad2 16GB wifi only model for our faculty as most of our storage was going to be through cloud services like Google Apps for Education and DropBox.
Faculty got to play with their new devices. A few inservices were scheduled to collaborate on various tools the faculty have found and to discuss ways to use the iPads in the classroom. Two scenarios were the focus: The first being a teacher with the iPad and the students using the mobile laptop labs and the second being the teacher with an iPad and their class also having iPads.