1:1 iPads in High Schools

My school district is making history this month as we roll out an iPad to every high school student in our district. I’ve been told that this is the largest iPad deployment to date for Apple. I am a technology specialist at an elementary school, but it was “all hands on deck” as all technology specialists, technicians, and a variety of district office personnel were asked to assist with iPad distribution and set-up at Lexington High School. Classes were assigned a day of the week to report at 8:30, to one of 4 areas (cafeteria, Learning Commons, Little Theater, or Performing Arts Center). It took about an hour and a half to distribute iPads to these large groups, to get them logged into the school network, and to get their Apple IDs and iCloud activated. By 10:30 AM on Friday, about 3000 iPads were deployed. Our IT department did a good job of trouble-shooting in this “learn as you go” scenario. Over the next 2 weeks we will hand out iPads at the other 3 high schools in our district.

Students were ecstatic to receive their new learning/communication device! I’m sure you are wondering how this has been funded and what kind of instructional preparations were made for this initiative. Several years ago our stake-holders passed a bond referendum for the specific purpose of providing 1:1 computing for our students. Teachers received their iPads back in August at the beginning of school, so they have had 3 months to get familiar with the device. Every teacher participated in a “hands on” training session conducted by the technology specialist at the school, and training sessions are continuing. Additionally, Apple education content specialists came in to conduct 2 day content-specific workshops for teacher-leaders from each school that focused on challenge-based learning. I had the privilege of attending the ELA workshop, and it was excellent!

Our district is committed to preparing our students to become graduates who are literate in 21st Century skills, and innovation is highly valued. iPad use won’t be limited to high schools only. Middle school students are next on the agenda and may receive their iPads as early as January. Three of our elementary schools have 5th grade teachers who are embedding gifted and talented curriculum in ELA content instead of students participating in a once a week pull-out program. I’ve been collaborating with this group of 5 teachers to provide curriculum support, and just this past week I conducted introductory iPad training for them. In several weeks they will be implementing a 2:1 iPad model in their classrooms.

Let me be clear, the use of technology devices is NOT the goal! Another district initiative this year is an instructional focus on the Gradual Release Model, based on the work of Fisher and Frey. We are “beginning with the end in mind,” the development of self-directed learners who are proficient in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. There are still many pedagogical shifts that need to take place in our classrooms, but it is very exciting to be on this path!

Here is a short news clip about our iPad distribution:
“high School Students Learning with iPads in the Classroom”

11 thoughts on “1:1 iPads in High Schools

  1. I would be interested to know a little bit more about the apple ids and the iCloud. Each student received their own personal Apple ID? Are there any apps that the district is going to purchase for all of the students (Pages, iMovie, etc.) If so I’m assuming you used Apple’s Volume Purchase Program to purchase those, so how are you going to get the VPP codes to students so they can put those apps on their iPads. Then if you are purchasing certain apps – that means they just get to keep them forever, right?

    One other question – what are yall doing with the iCloud? Our district has a lot of iPads- but they are all class sets and each set is using the same Apple ID our concern was that it would drain our network bandwidth if all of these devices are backing up to the cloud at the same time.

    I’m excited about the work your district is doing – it sounds very cool!

  2. Heather,
    Our district used volume purchasing to buy iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for each student. These were loaded using the district Apple account before students received their devices. I’m a curriculum specialist, not a technician, so I can’t explain the “how to” of that. Students will not be able to download updates for those apps. It’s my understanding that this can only be done by syncing to a computer at school. When students received the iPads, part of the set up process was to either use their own iTunes account or to create a new one so they can download any other apps or music they wish. It’s my understanding that by each having their own account they each have their own iCloud space. They also received a copy of the discipline code and were told that if they use their own personal accounts instead of creating a new one just for school, and explicit content is synced on the iPad via the cloud, they will be subject to disciplinary action. Students are allowed to take the iPads home and use for school and personal use as long as they comply with district behavior expectations. We know there will be some kids who push the envelope, but that happens with every new freedom they are given. This is part of our learning curve and theirs as well. Thanks for your questions!

  3. How exciting to learn about your project! Will you all setup a blog to share not only apps but also the different elements / aspects you’re learning about in the project? It would be great if you had an iPad project blog to which students could post as well as staff/teachers. Thanks for sharing about your project, very exciting!

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  5. Have worked with elementary schools where kids were given iPads with amazing results in terms of their inquiring about stuff to be learned.

    Where is Lexington High School? In Massachusetts or elsewhere? Would love to communicate with some of the high school teachers about students’ growth over time in these 21st century capacities.

    John Barell
    How Do We Know They’re Getting Better? Assessment of 21st Century Minds, K-8, Corwin, January, 2012.

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  7. Wow, 3000 iPads! I’ve never heard of a district implementing that many. How have you secured them from theft? How do you manage them? Are you using Datamation Systems sync & charge carts? Or perhaps with that many iPads you’ve been using their 49-port USB hub for syncing? We ordered them both after visiting http://www.ipadcarts.com and are very happy. Just wondering what technology a large scale implementation like this would use for management.

  8. Actually, 3000 were deployed at one high school in one week. The next week over 3000 more were distributed at our other 3 high schools, which are smaller. So we now have over 6000 devices in the hands of students here. Students take their iPads home and are responsible for keeping up with them and keeping them charged. Our district is managing the devices with Mobile Iron, which includes a locator service. The first few days over 100 students removed Mobile Iron (to be expected), but network management is able to track that, and serious consequences are in place for offenders. We are all still in the midst of a huge learning curve – teachers, students, and DO personnel – but barring the anticipated issues that have arisen, we seem to be off to a good start!

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