Thursday, May 31, 2012

Choate Rosemary Hall Moves to iPad 1:1 Program

Choate Rosemary Hall, a secondary-level college-preparatory boarding school located in Wallingford, CT, will require that all students have an iPad when school begins in the fall. Click here to read about the program. Be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page about how the program will be organized.

Choate, to my knowledge, is the largest boarding school in New England to adopt an iPad 1:1 program. Choate is a boarding school with approximately 850 students in grades 9 - 12 plus post graduate and approximately 150 faculty members. Dr. Alex D. Curtis, headmaster, remarked, “I am proud that our community of learners is seizing this unique moment in education and am excited to see what will unfold as teachers and students at Choate Rosemary Hall become the movers and shapers of 21st century teaching and learning.” Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

High Tech vs. No Tech

Two schools, two different approaches... a good read in the Washington Post. Click here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

San Francisco Bay Area

Last week I was in the San Francisco bay area to visit schools using iPads for classroom instruction. My first visit was to Howard Levin who presented his vision of mobile technology in education at our opening faculty meeting last September. Howard, who was at Urban School in San Francisco for the past 10 years, is now the Director of Educational Innovation and Information Services for the four schools which comprise the Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco. Currently, 6th grade girls and 4th grade boys, as well as 9th and 10th grade girls have iPads for daily use. Next year, all 3rd through 7th graders and 9th through 11th graders will have iPads.

In speaking with Howard, I learned of Onlive Desktop which allows iPad users to “access a secure, reliable, high performance PC desktop in the cloud.” We also spoke about cloud storage vs. server storage and the comparison of Box vs. Dropbox as file sharing APPs. Cloud storage is far less expensive than purchasing and maintaining servers and Box seems to be more versatile and secure than Dropbox. Howard also explained how they are using Apple TV as the projection device for the iPads. With Apple TV and a flat screen TV, one can wirelessly project from the iPad.

I next visited San Domenico School, a boys and girls pre-K through grade 8, girls grades 9-12 day and boarding school. It is located in Fairfax, a small community north of the golden gate in Marin County. They are currently implementing a 1:1 iPad program in grades 6-12, with a pilot project in 5th grade. As part of the implementation, each student is charged a yearly Technology Fee of $395. Each student is given an iPad, case, stylus, and wireless keyboard. When a student reaches 12th grade, they are given a new iPad. The thought is that four years is too long to keep a device as currently technology rapidly changes. All APPs are given to students as part of the technology fee and all of the student and faculty iPads are managed using Casper Suite, a “unified and extensible framework for Mac OS X and iOS client management.” Christopher Sokolov, Director of Technology, explained that the vast majority of development in software is now for mobile devices. In June, I will be attending iTeach 2012 at San Domenico. The conference is designed to deepen one’s understanding of iPads and integrated technology.

My next visit was to Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto. Gunn in the Palo Alto School District, is a very strong public high school in the south bay. Many parents work for Google, Apple, and other high tech companies in Silicon Valley. Gunn is beginning an iPad pilot in which every ninth grader has an iPad. Each classroom also has a set of MacBook computers for classroom use. Kristin Owen, an English teacher, explained that pilot has been a bit frustrating, especially for the students, as not all teachers allow students to use the iPad in their classes. For your viewing enjoyment I include a video from the Gunn website entitled 18-Month Old Ben Demos iPad. How do you stack up against Ben?

As I conclude my second year as the Bates-Russell Professor at Phillips Exeter Academy, I am more enthusiastic about the iPad than ever. Given the number and quality of APPs being released daily, improved screen resolution, and the ability to share information more readily, the iPad looks to be the education tool of the century. Bold statement because, gulp, it’s only 2012. Moreover, while laptops and tablet PCs are very cool, they are just not as mobile as iPads. As I visit schools and see 3rd graders using iPads, all I can think of is that in six years they could be attending Exeter. As I said in a earlier post, will we be ready? Expanding on what I’ve stated many times about calculators in mathematics, mobile technology is not going to go away and will just get better, rather quickly.

At Exeter, we are fortunate to have a ubiquitous teaching style – entirely student centered. Moreover, we are blessed with Harkness tables, which embody the student-centered learning style and motivate so many wonderful discussions throughout the curriculum. Some at Exeter are worried that technology, specifically iPads, will hinder these discussions or, more seriously, destroy the Harkness classroom. I don’t believe this for a minute. I see technology – iPads – adding to the Harkness experience. Again, we are blessed with Harkness tables but we must be careful that these very tables don’t bind us to a teaching style that cannot change and prevent us from taking advantage of technologies that can make the Harkness experience even better.