Thursday, April 5, 2012

Teacher iPad Rollout - Initial Thoughts

Today was a big day for our schools community; teachers and administrators received a new iPad of their own.  Up until this point we had been sharing iPad2s.  Each department had one and there were about 200 that teachers could check out to use with their classes.  However, this is not a true iPAd experience because the device is most valuable when the user is able to personalize it.

I am excited for my colleagues to use our Easter break as an opportunity to get acquainted with their iPads.

In preparation for today, one of the things we did was to make a PowerPoint presentation to guide everyone through each step of the process.  I know, PowerPoint is old and lame.   But its also easy to use and works on almost every computer.  We had 6 different people leading our rollout process and we needed to make sure everyone was able to display and use the same thing. And we only had a couple days to do it.

We had targeted today as our rollout day because it was a scheduled teacher in-service and the last day before our Easter break.  It seemed like the perfect way to get people to actually show up for an in-service the day before a long break as well as a good opportunity to give teachers the iPads with time to play with them.

Back to the PowerPoint. I lost count but I believe there are more than 67 slides.  We tried to make a slide and take a screen pic for each step.  And when I say each step, I mean each step.

Some teachers are not at all familiar with an iOS device.  Many don't have a smart phone. Several only had one email address, the one our school provides them for work.  We needed to make sure each step was as clear as possible.  Also, not all of our presenters were intimately familiar with the iPad.  They are all intelligent and tech-savvy, but you could hardly fault them if they forgot how to do something they themselves had just learned two days ago.

So that's how we ended up with the giant (100mb) PowerPoint presentation. The best part of the presentation was the title slide.  It is the same as the pic at the top of this post.  One of our very talented science teachers (Steve Anderson) drew that with the Bamboo Paper app (after only having his device for about 24 hours).

Our plan was to have teachers arrive in the lecture hall to pick up their device and then go out in groups of 15-20 with one of our 6 group leaders.  They went to a classroom where they would be guided though each step of the set up. Everything went as well as expected.

Actually, probably better than expected. We only had one real problem and we were prepared for it.

We had decided that teachers would use their own Apple ID with the device. This way they would be able to install their own apps on the iPad. Also, they would be able to "keep" any apps the school purchased for teachers. (This made me regret buying my own copies of the iLife and iWorks apps several months ago, but oh well).

The problem was that some teachers did not properly create their own Apple ID.  We tried very hard to check with everyone to make sure that they had created and verified their Apple ID before they arrived today but there were still a handful of people who needed extra assistance.  So, we had two more tech leaders available with laptops back in the lecture hall to help with this.  If during the enrollment process someone couldn't remember their Apple ID or password or had some other problem, they could leave to get extra assistance and the rest of the group could keep moving on. Then those people could rejoin a later group to catch up.

I'll be honest, this could get awkward when we had to ask some people to go back to the lecture hall for extra help. However, for the most part it went very well and helped keep our process moving along.

As I've been writing this I've been trying to think of what I would do differently.  This is especially important because eventually we will have to do this with 1700 students.  But right now I can't think of anything.  I will be sure to write another post after I've had some time to reflect some more on our process today.

Overall, I think people were satisfied.  Hopefully they will get a chance to spend some quality time with their device over the break and will come back ready and willing to try new things in their classes.

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