Management strategies and issues for schools hoping to go ‘one-to-one’ with iPads or tablets - Education Matters Magazine
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Management strategies and issues for schools hoping to go ‘one-to-one’ with iPads or tablets

Technology has many advantages in the classroom, but unlike textbooks, tablets have to be ‘managed’. James Symons discusses the challenges teachers face and how they may be able to avoid a logistical nightmare.

There was inevitably going to come a time when iPads and tablets were introduced into the classroom environment. Technology is being used more at home and children are becoming “tech-savvy”, and the rise of social media and easy access to the internet has opened up a world of opportunity for pupils across the globe. More and more schools are replacing text books and traditional chalkboards with digital technology.

It is not surprising, as there are major benefits to using technology in the classroom. Amongst other elements, tablets bring more opportunity to be creative and engage interactively, allow instant access to a wealth of information, and are totally portable – meaning lessons no longer need to be static.

It was hoped by many that when iPads were introduced into the classroom it would be feasible to offer them as a single-user device, meaning they would not need to be shared amongst classes or transported from room to room. However, in some schools, financial constraints have meant they have had to develop other solutions to deploy iPads and tablets. And that is not the only problem that teachers and schools can face.

With breakage rates of tablets potentially as high as 10% each year, maintenance of these devices can run as high as $150 per device if not managed in the correct way. Already in schools, there is a high risk of hardware going missing, and a solution also needs to be found to contain and protect these devices from theft, damage and also ensure students are kept safe during deployment between students.

There has been talk of schools moving to a model whereby students bring their own devices (BYOD), but this can alienate children from less fortunate backgrounds. In addition, many schools have found issues with forgotten devices, (or broken ones!) and this then puts those students at a learning disadvantage. From a teachers perspective, it is also frustrating and difficult to adapt lesson plans to accommodate both students who have devices and students who don’t.

So what are the best ways to manage devices?

Building your own storage unit is never a good idea, both because of health and safety, and from a functionality and space perspective. But there are solutions that exist to store iPads and tablets, either static fixtures in the classroom, or mobile units that can be transported from class to class.

Portability of storage carts is often a major benefit that we hear time and time again amongst teachers and management staff. This portability makes them possibly the most suitable storage option for schools who can’t afford to purchase tablets for the entire pupil population, especially if schools choose a version with a basket design. These baskets can be carried easily from class to class, but also can be taken outside, or left on desks, where children can safely access them. Portable storage carts can also provide value for money, not only from the point of view of savings (schools don’t have to spend as much money on purchasing as many devices whilst they still offer the flexibility of serving several classes), but also from the point of view of support and maintenance costs.

If we look again at the costs associated with maintaining tablets, there is the cost of adding programs and apps or materials on the device, but also the cost of breakages which we spoke about earlier. On top of this, there are potential costs for employing staff to update devices, sync devices, and lost time waiting for these devices to be replaced, updated or maintained. Storage carts can not only store the devices when they are not in use, but also charge and sync multiple devices, and keep them safe overnight in lockable cabinets.

In this case, smaller baskets are good at preventing breakages and damages and perhaps even more importantly, they save the teacher time – one of the main problems that schools face.

Schools do not have enough time to carry out the essential classroom jobs, let alone additional tasks that can take them away from what they do the best, which is teach. By choosing a suitable storage device carefully, one that takes the onus away from the teacher to manage and puts it firmly in the hands of the storage device, schools can save money, but also time which is their most precious commodity.

James Symons is the Managing Director of PC Locs storage facilities. Please visit their website for more information.

 

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