A few weeks ago I purchased two refurbished iPads for the library. The iPads are now available to students for in-library use and are soon to be available for teachers to check out. I purchased Otter Box protective cases, screen protectors and an App Store gift card to load the iPads with a few apps. I called Apple with my questions about setting the iPads up and creating a library account. They were very helpful. My School Librarian guru Cathy Jo Nelson was even more helpful with a few tips. I am especially thankful to know that the Apple login remains "open" for window of about 15 minutes after each session. I must be careful not to lend out the iPads immediately after I have been logged on with our account, especially if there is money left in the account.
We will be having the first iPad workshop for teachers after school on Wednesday. Teachers who are interested in checking out the iPads will be required to attend one of the workshops that will be offered and sign a copy of the iPad policy. Teachers who are not interested in checking out the iPads are also encouraged to attend. The iPads will be checked out to teachers in a neoprene zipper case with the charger, an iPad to VGA cable and a 6ft VGA cable to act as an extension enabling teachers to connect the iPad to their Smart Board for display purposes.
Students have been checking out and "playing" with the iPads during their lunch periods. The students with iPads must sit and stay at a designated table while they are using the iPad. Once I have checked out the iPads to students during any given lunch period, it is not long before there is a small crowd surrounding the two students. I have loaded strictly educational apps onto them. I enjoy watching the students use the iPads, thinking they are just playing. It also makes me smile when I see the students show each other how to use the iPads. Hearing the astonishment in students voices as they say, "We can use those iPads? You bought them for US to use?" (translate: Really? You trust us? They are not just for teachers?) has made me feel rich (and daring) like a king presiding over a feast.
I remember reading somewhere that one thing that shaped Bill Gates was access to a networked computer at school, where the thirteen-year-old Gates learned to program. Two iPads may not have a tremendous impact on my entire school, but the possibility that it might impact one or two students is the reason I made this leap. Some of my students have their own iPads and iPhones. Most of them do not. There are schools where every student has their own iPad - right now. My school is not one of them, but my students will have to compete for the same jobs and opportunities as the students who come from these schools.
I have been partnering with Pam Fowler, a technology teacher at my
school in setting up the iPads, planning the training and learning about
the educational possibilities these iPads could inspire. It is our hope
that teachers will check out the iPads, recommend apps for downloading,
and offer students the option of using an iPad in a future project or
assignment. I think it has been a good move to start off with just two
iPads while we learn the ropes. If all goes well, we will apply for
grants and look into purchasing more.