If you are considering iPads as a 1:1 device or a classroom set for your school, you will need to have support and maintenance systems in place before you deploy. These are some questions you should ask.
- Who do students go to with issues? Will you have a HelpDesk? Do you have a spot for students to check out/in iPads? Some ideas include the libary, a designated office or lab or the homeroom teacher. The librarian at South Belton Middle School has become an iPad specialist this year just because she was the first one students turned to when they had issues with their iPads. We didn’t realize that would happen, but it was the natural product of having the librarian check out the devices to the students. Our students go to the library, the office of the instructional facilitator, or the campus technology facilitator for help. We plan on training students to serve as tech support before school, after school, during homeroom and lunches next year.
- Who do teachers call for help? Teachers on our campus also contact the Instructional Facilitator or the campus Technology Facilitator when they have issues. The technology department also has help available for those teachers.
- What will you do if a student accidentally breaks an iPad? Especially if you send devices home with students, you can expect some breakage and hardware issues. You need to plan on 5%-10% depending on your cover and the age of your students.
- Will you purchase insurance? You can use an insurer like the Worth Avenue Group to insure for breakage, accidents and even loss or theft for around $50.
- Will you ask the student to purchase insurance or pay a user fee? Some districts choose to build the cost of the insurance, along with the cost of covers and apps, into the cost of the iPad when they budget. Others ask students to pay an annual user fee (typcially $25-$50) and the district designates those funds for repair and replacement of damaged, lost or stolen iPads.
- Who will collect funds? We have tried having the principal’s secretary collect a user fee this year; however, it was very burdensome on her since we let parents pay small amounts over time. If we continue with this plan, we will need some automated way to remind parents of the amount they owe and a different person to collect.
Your district administrators, including the campus principals involved, business office staff and technology director, will need to discuss these details, map out a plan, and communicate with parents long before the first day of school. Decide these things early and have systems in place before problems arise.
These are just a few things I have learned through our 1:1 iPad projects at a 735 student middle school where the students take the devices home plus class sets in two rooms at our largest high school and in a few elementary school classrooms.
Also See 5 Tips for iPad Deployment on The Evolving Classroom***Coming Soon: Now that Apple has released a Configuration tool, I will try it out and let you know!