Sunday, 10 June 2012

Our Deployment of 90 iPads


I was involved with the technical support side of the deployment.  With advice from our principal I came up with a set of instructions for the teachers to follow to set up the iPads and add some restrictions.  I tested them on someone completely new to iPads and realised I needed to add a picture of the iPad to show where the buttons are, after all their position changes depending on how you pick it up.  I also added images of the Settings and App Store icons so they could easily be found.

iPad Party!

On Tuesday we had an iPad party for all of our teachers.  Our principal, a very enthusiastic iPad user, talked about why we were using iPads (engaging for our children, clear links to learning, flexible, portable, personalised and fun).

Each teacher (and me in the library) was given four iPads, an Apple TV and a $50 iTunes gift card.

We asked the teachers to bring their laptops to the iPad party so that they could verify their Apple IDs.  They set up all four iPads before loading any apps.  This was so they could download apps to one iPad and have them automatically download to the other three iPads (do this by going to Settings, Store, and swiping apps on).  There is a bit of a lag when this happens but it was successful.  It avoided the necessity of having to sync to iTunes, making the set up simpler. 

I know there is a lot of discussion about schools syncing multiple devices to one Apple ID.  We took comfort in this email posted by a NZ educator who confirmed the situation with an iTunes employee.

Challenges with the Set Up

There were a few hiccups – existing Apple IDs with forgotten passwords and incorrectly redeemed iTunes gift cards were the main problems.  It is disappointing that if you redeem the gift cards incorrectly it doesn't give an error message, instead it tries to get payment information from you when you want to purchase an app.  The key is to watch for a message advising the amount of money you have just added to your account, then you know you have done the process properly.

Extra Help

We held drop in sessions for the following two afternoons and will have one more this Wednesday.  Teachers were encouraged to take the iPads home to have a play and a substantial number of them were using the iPads the following day.  There was a positive buzz in the staffroom as teachers swapped notes.  This weekend some of the teacher aides have taken iPads home to have a look too.

We have created a frequently-asked questions Google doc where teachers can share iPad tips and have their questions answered.  Currently this has information on updating apps and software, app selection sites and keyboard tips.

Teacher Responsibilites

Each teacher is responsible for charging and looking after their iPads.  There is no centralised computer that they need to sync with.

Benefits of School-Wide Deployment

In my opinion the choice to deploy across the whole school at once was a good one.  Obviously we had the finances to be able to do so but what it has meant is that there are lots of ideas and discussions happening and everyone can join in.  The teachers are learning and supporting each other.  The allocation of individual iTunes gift cards means teachers have control over the apps on their iPads.  A list of suggested apps was given but the remainder of money is up to the teachers to spend.

I went to an iPad conference recently and watched as two teachers struggled to download a suggested app because they didn’t have the appropriate password.  This was very frustrating and demoralising for them and I’m glad we have avoided that.

Community Involvement

Back in early May we advised parents via newsletter that iPads would be coming to the classroom.  Another newsletter put out on Thursday talked about the iPad party and the introduction of iPads into classrooms. It also mentioned a deal that has been arranged with Noel Leeming for families who wish to use the same technology at home.  The apps that were selected were put on the school website for parents to see.  An expo that is planned for later this year was also described as a way to see the iPads in action.

Apple TVs

I’ve been busy setting up the Apple TVs and showing teachers how to use AirPlay (fortunately all the TVs bar one have HDMI slots).  The teachers are really happy that they can mirror their iPad to their TV without having to set up any cables like they do for their PCs.  This will be a great way for them to share book apps and also to explain to their class how to use particular apps.

Technical Issues

We had a wireless upgrade before the iPads were introduced.  The biggest problem is that the Wi-Fi network that was set up requires you to log back in every time the iPads go to sleep.  We have passed this on to our I.T. guru and hope to get it fixed soon.  We also want him to find out why the videos we record do not play on Apple TV.

Some issues we have managed to fix for ourselves:

  • AirPlay button is missing – this happens when the Wi-Fi isn’t connected
  • Some apps are greyed out so you can’t purchase them – this is because of the restrictions we set up.  The apps must have some content that is not suitable for children.

Overall I would say that it has been an excellent first week with the iPads.  I will keep you informed as we move forward.


  1. Looking forward to getting updates. Sounds like it went really well - congratulations!! Teachers must be buzzing and it's awesome to have such a supportive principal - as well as a great librarian :)

    1. Thanks Kerryn. I agree that an enthusiastic and supportive principal is such an important part of the process. Especially one who remembers that the library needs technology too!

  2. Hi Michelle,

    Looks like you have gone through a lot of the steps we have as well. You are welcome to pick up some of of work at

    1. Robert, your iPad portal is fantastic! What a great resource, so well presented and clearly written. Once we are settled with the iPads and I have caught up with my library work my next task is to redevelop our website. You have given me lots of ideas so thank you for that.

  3. Hi Michelle,
    We are just setting up iPads in our school too - very exciting - any chance you could share your checklist via your blog?
    We are just trying to work out the best way to get paid for apps. You say you gave teachers an iPad voucher - do they each have their own itunes account or do they just use a single school itune account?? If yes - how do you enable what they purchase to be available on all the iPads? (I read the email link to the VLN but that confused me more than ever - I suppose that's coz this is all new to me!).
    Any assistance would be greatly recieved.

    1. Hi Debs, I will ask our principal about the sharing the checklist. Each teacher set up their own Apple ID with their school email address. We haven't needed to use iTunes yet. If you look under 'iPad Party' above I describe how we got the apps to appear on each of their iPads. Two weeks in I know there are lots of things I still need to learn and everybody seems to do things differently! Good luck with your set up.

  4. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for replying to me. I was just wondering how you are getting on? I am assuming that because the teachers each have their own individual Apple ID that they cannot 'share' the apps they download with other teachers but are able to 'share' accross the 4 iPads they have in their class - is that correct?
    Has the school any plans about how to manage paid for apps?
    Cheers - Debs

    1. Hi Debs,
      All the teachers are settling in with their new devices. You are correct that currently the teachers are sharing apps across their 4 iPads but not between each other. We are keeping an eye on the VPP, which is apparently coming here soon. Otherwise we are just taking it slowly.

    2. Cheers Michelle, I think thats the way we are going to go to.
      Have you had any luck with getting email on to the iPads - I am just investigating how to get the teachers emails on to the iPads.
      Also - have any of the teachers been using iCloud?
      Thanks : )

    3. Teachers are using the Google Search app for their mail, so they can log in and then off again when the students are using the iPads. I think eventually we may set each class up with their own email and use that instead. No-one is using iCloud that I know of.