iPad Rollout tips

Thursday, October 10, 2013

KBEA - iPad workflow

I'm very happy and honored to be presenting at the KBEA conference again this year!  As I've been working with schools to set up iPad deployments I've noticed an issue - because these devices make it a bit difficult to print, and they don't save to traditional file storage systems we have a bit of a dilemma.  How do you manage the workflow of distributing assignments and returning them?  How do you share work that has been completed with others?  Sometimes these questions are a gotcha after a successful deployment, but these issues should be a big part of planning!  I'll share a few ideas with the attendees at my session and here as well.

Even though printing is a bit complicated - it can be done with iPads.  Just DONT!!!  It's incredible how much money gets spent each year on printing - toner, paper, maintenance and replacing printers that are worn out.  We could buy lots of new devices for less than our printer budgets!  If you must print - newer printers do support Apples AirPrint protocol.  Older printers can be supported by software or hardware means - software would include Printopia which works great but requires a Mac to act essentially as a print server. But it does more than print!  It lets students "print" a file to a folder on your machine!  If you MUST print.. grumble...  then consider Lantronix xPrint print server. It is a device that is installed on the network and allows you to add printers which can be selected by iOS users.  Works well, and non platform specific.

Good old-fashioned email works too - but there are some gotchas, and disciplines that will help. Many schools don't provide email for students, and its a bit complicated for younger ones.  Google Apps for Education schools can set up accounts for students that only allow messages to be sent within the district.  This helps with some security concerns.  Teachers that use email will employ methods such as having students use very specific terms in the subject line, and then create a filter to route the mail into "folders".  Fairly effective.

Some districts would like to have "cloud" like service, but have the files kept locally within the network.  Apple 10.8 server is a very inexpensive way to do that.  A reasonably recent Mac, with the addition of the $19.95 server app can be turned into a server.  Yes a real file server!  Users can be added and the WebDav service enabled, and you have instant file storage and sharing!  Most apps in iOS support WebDav, so it isn't a bad solution.

I'm a big fan of GAE - sometimes referred to as GAFE -  Google Apps For Education.  It is free.  Yes free.  I've fought mail servers for years, and it was so nice to just turn that responsibility over to the geniuses at Google. Did I mention free??  GAE just takes minutes to sign up for and has become fairly simple to implement for tech directors.  Of course you get Google Drive, and the related apps.  Wonderful environment for schools - its cross platform and cloud based..  and free! I am a fan of a script that has been created to easily make classroom folder structures within Google Drive - it is known as gClass Folders and is worth a look.  Not the most intuitive thing to use, I'll demonstrate it at my session.

There are several CMS systems that now support iOS devices very well - I'm a fan of My Big Campus and Edmodo.  They have apps that facilitate moving files in and out of the directories that are created within the apps. Even Blackboard offers support now.  If you are using one of these systems, its worth investigating how well it would fit in your workflow.

There are some very nice web based solutions  - I'll cover a few here - recommended to me by the Queen of Apps - Linda Loder with Smoky Hill ESC in Salina.  Showbie is easy to use and free - within limits of course!  Another great LMS site is Schoology.  Both have a bit of a learning curve, not bad though and facilitate the exchange of files, in the context of a course.   Very helpful!

Well this is a pretty big list of stuff!  There's no right or wrong way, and there are many solutions, these are just a few that have proven effective.

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