iPad in a School Library
I am lucky to be given a separate budget to initiate a multimedia project. Of course, the school EMT doesn't expect me to come up with a collection of DVD nor CD-ROM, what else but Tablets! When I presented the proposal, I gave them a comparison between eReaders(Kindle) and Tablet(iPad). From my previous experience with Kindle, it's very challenging to promote such to students in a country where reading is the least thing that they would think of. It must be a very colourful and a very familiar technology - Tablets and for that matter it's iPad. We were torn between iPad New Gen and iPad Mini. Both has almost the same functions and features but different price tags. Therefore, we made consensus to purchase iPad mini...and because it's cheaper we were able to add 2 more units from the original proposal.
For the initial project, we purchased 8 units of 16gb iPad Mini. Each has battery charge of at least 50% but I still recommend to charge it fully as soon as you open the box. Download iTunes U App on your computer, and create an Apple ID. I preferred to use the iTunes U App so even if the library/school doesn't have a credit card you will be able to do so. You will be needing to use an email, I don't suggest to use your personal or office email, create a library email since you will have to share the password with other library staff. If your IT department couldn't give you one, there are gmail, hotmail, yahoo etc. When creating Apple Account, don't forget to write down the security details just in case you will need it in the future. This How-To video might be helpful.
Now we're ready to set-up our iPad Mini. Unbox the 1st unit and assign it as the master unit. This is what you must use in installing, testing, updating(iCloud) or deleting. This must also be the last unit to be served to the students. This video is worth to watch. We then modify each unit by going to Settings-Wi-Fi (connect to a wifi)-General-About-Name - change the name of each unit; General-;Restriction - assign password, we disable Facetime, Rating for (preferred country), Music and Podcasts CLEAN, Film ALL, TV, and so on. We use the same setting for all units but we turned off the Deleting Apps as this feature doesn't need a password. Now, we are ready to install Apps. Although Facebook and Twitter are ready to install, we didn't install in any. I will post the Apps that we thought will be worthy to include in our collection, then we grouped the apps by school subjects. After all the units are set-up, we sign out the Apple ID for security purposes.
We displayed the empty boxes on the table nearest to the counter so it will be easy to supervise. When a student wants to use the iPad, we asks them to get a box from the table and exchange it with the unit. Upon return, we asked them to sign the registration by answering 4 simple questions: (1) What apps(s) they enjoyed most, (2)What app(s) they would like to install, (3) How did they find out the iPad service in the library, (4)Questions and Suggestions.
This service has become an instant hit during after-school with our Primary students. Not so much with the Secondary since they want it to check out. We only allow from Y3 students because we are not confident that younger students are ready to handle such gadget without supervision. Some of the challenges we faced since we started this service are students try to open school-restricted sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) from Safari and Google. Some are just using it to listen to radio, whilst some are trying to sneak it somewhere in the library. Children are normally sneaky so supervision is really needed....babysitting - not really, just a constant reminder.
Every Friday afternoon, the master unit ill be backed-up on the computer for any additional or deleted apps during the week. if none we don't do it anymore. After all the units were returned, simply restore the back up for the rest of the units. The name of each unit will be changed to the master unit's name so we just change it back, we haven't discovered how to keep the original name yet:)