Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Question of Storage and Updating - without a monstrous cart!

The question schools wrestle with, once we find ourselves with a set of iPads and find that teachers and students are happily engaged in using them in their daily classroom life, is how we are going to safely store and easily update these devices?

We have started small with our program, and we decided early that teachers wanted their set of iPads stored in the locked closets in their classrooms. We picked out simple wire baskets from The Container Store  and found, with the thin protectors on the backs of the iPads and magnetic covers, six iPads fit comfortably in each bin. If stored with the power access point facing up, then charging and updating the set is easy, although initially I was stuck with updating each iPad, one at a time.

Next was the challenge of how to update multiple iPads at once. We learned while in Maine at the Leveraging Learning Institute, that the Casper-Jamf suite has been great for their huge management needs, with 400 iPads in the program. The down side they have discovered is that few wireless networks are robust enough to update multiple iPads at once, so they have moved to manually updating them after all. In a workshop about managing devices, the usual Bretford cart solution was trotted out. I finally raised my hand and asked, "What if we don't want a huge piece of furniture that will soon become obsolete?" That was when they shared the solutions employed by the innovative educators in Canby, Oregon. They created a "McGyver" solution involving D-Link USB hubs, and stacks of iPads. I have adapted this system using the D-Link hubs (model # DUB-H). With 6 in a basket I can transport them to my iMac, update all 6, then move on to the next set. It's a simple solution, with no major cart purchased, and could be transferred to classrooms with teachers updating their own classrooms sets as they do in the Auburn, Maine program.

If only it were easier to manage the iPads for education! We are still waiting for Apple to simplify our lives by creating enterprise level solutions for these wonderful devices!