aye-pads, tablets and netbooks
Monday, March 26th, 2012 | Author:

Ok, so it’s sunny outside..that means some blue sky thinking. I think.

I’m thinking about a scheme similar to ones running in many secondary schools already where pupils can buy/lease a device by paying monthly over a number of years. In my mind, netbooks would be great, but if you’re spending £300-£350, then obviously the ipad comes into play too. But then if you’re talking tablets, you might also want to investigate the Android ones too. There should probably be a small mention for Chromebooks too at £300, but for that I could almost get a ‘proper’ laptop/netbook which could be used for animation, movie editing and game design too.

So, before deciding on a device I want to decide what it will be used for and why I want it. To do that, some context is needed. We have 9 classes (if you don’t include Reception who have a few desktop PCs) using  68 netbooks. There are also 18 or so desktop PCs in the corridor for children to access and a suite of 20. The suite will last another year at most and as it only holds 20, doesn’t get used much (once/twice a week) due to class sizes of 28+.

The netbooks are great and I am totally converted after thinking that I would hate them. They have decent-sized screens and they boot up in 5minutes. Battery life is 4-6 hours too. So the easy option would be to have a scheme where children can buy their own netbooks. I could image them very quickly using the system we already have and life would be simple.

But then what about the tablets? As I have never really played with an i-pad (except for a bit of browsing and a bit of a play in a shop once) and never used an Android 3/4 tablet, it’s best to list the things that I want and then hopefully some lovely people will leave comments to say if it is possible.

  • The device needs to be able to sync with others so that if I download apps on one, they go to all devices. (do I need to think about licensing???)
  • They need to work through our proxy settings
  • Will there need to be multiple accounts setup so that when they are used in school the child sees the ‘school’ apps but when they’re at home, and it becomes a home device, they can install angry birds?
  • Can I therefore stop pupils from purchasing apps in school?
  • Can I ‘force’ a certain look on all devices e.g. making a maths folder and a science folder with relevant apps inside?

Of course there are also other questions that are more teaching and learning, than techy:

  • Will my teachers want a range of devices in class?
  • Will they want to have different activities being done by different children at the same time?
  • Will children want to use it so much that they forget how to write? Will they be allowed to choose when to use it and when not to? I don’t want it being a flashy way of doing their times tables!!
  • Will we use it for a range of different stuff often enough? If it’s just going to be a ‘research’ machine for finding out information, why not buy a Blackberry Playbook for £170? (and this has Flash)
  • What if only 5 children in a class sign up to the scheme? Will this create haves and have-nots? Will this be a problem? Should I just buy a couple of ipads for each class and avoid the issue?

Ideally I’d like a couple of devices to play with for a few days but I have no idea how to go about this. I tried a few places and it wasn’t in their policy to let me have shiny things to play with in case I broke them.

There is obviously the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) argument too and I think we could allow this providing it worked through the proxy settings.

So, am I being ambitious? forward-thinking? mental? Would/could/does this work and how do I go about trying? I’m not a Distinguished Apple Blokie so I’m looking for something that any teacher can go and do. Comments, questions, rants, opinions are all welcome, so please help if you can!