Monday, February 7, 2011

Considerations Before Deploying iPads and iPods

This is a well thought out reflection on the use of iPads or iPods in schools by Howard Chan at Socratech Seminars. Worth a read as part of any evaluation of hand held devices in schools on a large scale.

Before schools and districts go on a mass purchasing spree of iPads and iPods, there are a few infrastructure considerations before sending the purchase order. While I am a strong advocate of using the tablet in the classroom, there should be some strategic deployment plans before putting it in the hands of students. Rather than sounding as the expert, I have decided to format the considerations through questions I would ask before purchasing. This list by no means fits everyone’s model, but will hopefully serve as a guideline to planning out iPad/iPod/tablet/mobile device deployments. Thanks! I would be more than happy to add your feedback, questions, comments to this evolving blog post.

  • Do you have enough wireless bandwidth to sustain dense populations of mobile devices? Check this post on Beef Up Your Wireless Infrastructure
  • Do you have a Mobile Device Management system in place to effectively manage and support the devices?
  • Do you have a big enough Internet pipe to sustain the network traffic?
  • Will you create a separate wireless network for mobile devices with different policies? Mobile VLAN?
  • Do you have OSX devices to create apps content to push to the iPods and iPads?
  • Do you have authentication policies to access the wireless network?
  • How do you plan to filter browsing (ex. Mobicip) on these devices?
  • Will you allow teachers or students to install apps on the devices? Or will it be centrally managed?
  • Will you allow teachers or students to configure settings on the devices? Or will it also be centrally managed?
  • Do you have the personnel to be part of the Apple Store Volume Purchasing Program? I believe you need a Program Manager and Program Facilitator(s) to be able to access ASVPP. Apps can be up to 50% off on volume purchasing.
  • Will your IT staff be trained on how to support mobile devices?
  • Will you allow students to take the devices home? What AUP will you have on mobile devices?
  • Will you allow personal mobile devices on campus?
  • Does Flash incapability hinder any present network considerations?
  • What is the refresh cycle on the devices?
  • What mobile cart solution will you have? Where will it be stored? Check out system?
  • Do you go 1:1 or shared mobile cart?
  • How do we assess Total Cost of Ownership?
  • How does the iPods and iPads align with your curriculum?
  • Who will be responsible for delivering professional development? How do we hold teacher’s accountable to using the devices?
  • Does your existing edtech programs and tools work on iOS?
  • Are there planning/collaboration times to share best-practices in using mobile devices?
  • How will you assess the effectiveness of using the mobile devices?
  • Are there data and assessment tools built into the iOS to gather quality data of student achievement?
  • Is there a curriculum vision for the iPods and iPads? Does it align with the school’s mission?
  • How will parents/community be involved if students are bringing the devices home?
  • Are the educational apps available enough to support your curriculum?
  • Are there enough content creation tools to replace the traditional computer desktop/laptop?
  • How do you assess the educational value of purchasing iPods/iPads? versus Total Cost of Ownership?


  1. This is a great and comprehensive list Mr. Swanson. Many schools already have computers in the classroom. A question (or maybe a new set of questions) is: what is the delta between current laptop/desktop usage in the classroom and iPad usage in the classroom?

    Gabriel Adauto

  2. This is an excellent question Gabriel, one that I alone can not answer adequately. Let me put two other questions out there;

    a) How many teachers are really getting their students to use current laptop/desktop computers to their fullest potential, i.e. inquiry learning, differentiated lessons, use of different learning styles or even incorporating Bloom's Digital Taxonomy? How many are truly 21st century educators taking advantage of their own student's level of skill and digital dexterity on a range of Web 2.0 tools ?

    b) iPad usage is itself is reliant on innovative administrators or school systems to implement handheld device programs and then in-servicing staff to a level where they can develop and then facilitate interactive and immersive learning for the students in their care. Without these decisions we simple have many teachers with less skill level than their own students.

    Thanks for making me aware of your MathsinMotion App, I will be certainly adding it to the bloglist. Cheers Greg


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