Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Needs for Education: Multi User iPads

Greg Swanson @ Appsineducation

If Apple were truly serious about integrating iPads into education then they need to implement an overhaul of the iOS to incorporate multi user log-ins.
For the iPad to operate with ease across the board educationally then the attitude that the iPad is a purely personal device needs to be challenged.
On a personal level, I will customise my iPad, making it an extension of my personality and an indication of my personal workflow. I will try out, move and delete apps as they fit into the way I work, how I like to play and how I choose to be entertained.
As an educator I need a set of iPads that I can use with multiple students and even multiple classes. I need students to be able to to customise their own app selection to compliment their learning styles. I need a system where each student has a partitioned space that is their own.
I need them to be able to create, construct, present and then save their own work to their Dropbox or another cloud storage solution. I am aware you can set up more than one email account on an iPad and you can password protect the device so that student are unable to access it without your permission, but this now needs to go further.
I need secure user accounts that also address issues like resource and application sharing. I need to share apps between students and groups of students.
Can the iPad have multiple itunes accounts set up on a single machine or can a single itunes account have multiple users on multiple machines. Surely it is not impossible to have a class itunes account where each student personalises their learning tools to suit their preferred learning style from the collective apps. Each school could develop a library of appropriate apps for the units of work they are studying or even the teaching and learning styles they have decided to model to their students.
If we really want the iPad to revolutionalise the way that our students learn then the Apple juggernaut will need to relinquish some control of the infrastructure (I know this is unlikely but it needs to be said). 
If the iPad is to make serious long term inroads into the classroom than serious consideration needs to be given to creating a reasonable solution for teachers who want to implement and integrate this type of technology.
I love my iPad
I’d love all my students to have the opportunity to use iPads
I need change first.


  1. I don't thing it's "unlikely" as you said in your post, it's pretty much a "not going to happen". The tablet, or handheld computing device is a very personal device, one that begs the user to treat it as an extension of their being, which you pretty much acknowledged. Multiple-users defeats that purpose, and flys in the face of Apple's marketing strategy; they want a device in every person's hand, not shared, not common property, but one device to one student.

    I think a lot of people are passionate about making serious inroads with the iPad in the classroom because of it's cost, it's "flavor of the month" computing device, and the fact that kids don't really have to wrestle with understanding how to use it. For everything you described in your post, you would do much better with a bunch of MacBook Airs, or MacBooks. I think you're going to see a growing amount of pushback from education on the issue of iPads in settings where they aren't truly 1:1 for the reasons you described. It's a consumer device that educators desperately want to behave like an educational one, which it does...but Apple doesn't want it to be treated like one.

  2. I'm with Ben...not gonna happen. We're taking a good hard look at the iPad this summer to replace our traditional Tablet PC in our One-to-One program primarily, as Ben also indicated, because it has the ability to reduce the overall cost of our program by more than fifty percent...that's HUGE!!!

    And honestly, I believe the true benefit of most educational technology is derived from a One-to-One environment. We arrived at 1to1 coming from a number of years in a "shared" environment and I can tell you the program is far more sustainable in a 1ot1 mode. The reasons to name a couple...
    Ownership-the students felt no ownership in the shared environment and therefore treated the devices as such...
    Engagement-because the devices are with them 24/7, available for use in every classroom situation, the students are far more likely to explore and make the most use of them and to a greater extent...
    Productivity-because everyone learns differently, personalization is key..Johnny's pre-algrebra app may be of no use to Suzy in her 6th grade math class...you even mention your personal use of the iPad in this manor, why should it be different for your students???

    The questions we have for Apple center around the productivity aspects of the devices. Our students live and breathe Microsoft OneNote. While you can get OneNote and other apps such as Evernote and inClass for the iPad, the lack of an actual stylus greatly reduces the functionality our students have come to rely upon. Can they use other unique aspects of the iPad to become equally as functional/productive/creative as they are today with the Tablet PC? Maybe...Hopefully...We'll see...

    I'm not convinced it's the right device for us yet...but because of creative functionality, not for any of the reasons you've listed...

  3. Our iPads have just arrived and they will be going into a shared situation. We are really just learning how they can be used, it was a case of buy some and let teachers play to see how we get it to work.

    It's a combination of costs and legacy - we can't justify one for every kid until we show they are useful, and technology has always been on a shared basis. It will be interesting to see how people work around what you've identified here, and reality is that if it becomes too cumbersome, we won't be getting more.

  4. Hey Deb
    Good luck with your shared model. It would be interesting to have your reflections on how you get around this. What strategies you use to make use of the ipads and what apps work for your situation. I would love for you to do a guest post. If you get a chance let us know how you go.

  5. Your post reminded me of graphing calculators I used while teaching. While this isn't exactly what you are talking about - a step in the right direction would be for a hard-reset or something like it App that students could use to erase history and restore default installed apps. I always taught my students to reset their calculators when they first get them and when they return them. Something similar might be useful?

  6. I also see the need for easier sharing with ipads. A couple of months ago we received our first shipment of 20 ipads that are supposed to be shared among 650 students. Like Deb said, the school will not purchase more ipads until teachers show that they consistently and effectively use them in the classroom.

  7. I agree that the iPad's usefulness in the classroom is the first and foremost aspect to determine...we've issued a few to select faculty and staff...but clearly, at least to me, the "work around" for what you've listed here is to give one to each student.

    "Technology has always been on a shared basis"??? I'm guessing none of you share your computer with another teacher, right? I'm guessing also that none of your parent's or school board members share their computers with co-workers...so why should we expect the students to share?

    Here are some New Jersey folks planning to roll out iPads to all students... http://teaneck.patch.com/articles/technology-driven-education-in-new-jersey-more-than-childs-play-3

    Are there/will there be hurdles? Sure...but as fast as the technology roller coaster is moving, if you wait for just the right time to jump on, you'll miss all the thrills...and then once you're on, you'll look around and see there's no one else on the ride with you because the new roller coaster has opened across the park and everyone is over there!!

    It's up to us as administrators and teachers to figure out how to implement technology, not to sit on it and wait for someone else to solve all the issues for us...we owe it to the students to keep their learning environment authentic, real and engaging...

  8. Great essay and comments!
    I have been asked to help figure out how to incorporate iPads into community college classes, which fits right into this debate. My implementation's driving questions are:
    - Is the iPad better as a teaching device to facilitate classes, or a learning device to solve an instructional problem?
    - How can a class set of iPads be used in classes?
    - Is it reasonable to eventually just expect students to purchase one?
    - Should the iPad be a teacher only device?

    This is coupled with other issues such as a teacher or student's technological knowledge level. If half a class is spent figuring out how to use the iPads then they are ineffective.

    A final litmus test:
    Tech integration (especially mobile tech) should be as seamless as possible, otherwise its an obstruction. It should also be disruptive, but in a positive way, changing perceptions of how we learning/teach.

    Is the iPad the device to do this? I'm not 100% convinced at this point. However, its a step towards some sort of profound change.

  9. Agreed with almost everything and don't have a lot to add except this:

    Personal devices should indeed be personal for those who receive benifit from it being personal, however, there are many things (cars, phones, toys, books) which we ask children to share as they learn the responsibilities that go along with it. I'm not arguing for shared iPads in HS, but is it really so awful if a PreK class has to share a handful of iPads as they learn by playing?

    Guess my point is that we should consider computing devices developmentally just as we would any other resource. If there is value in 1:1 then let's do it.

    PS- I don't want to give up OneNote either.