iPads for iBulldogs

MANCHESTER - Burr and Burton Academy (BBA) students, and teachers, have received a new iPad 2 just in time for school to start on Wednesday. Each class had a series of distribution sessions at which they were given their new piece of technology and were guided on how to use it responsibility.

Students arrived with their $25 protection program payment, a signed form called the Responsible Use Policy, and their protection program form. They were first brought to a presentation made by Assistant Headmaster Meg Kenny.

"This has been in the works for a long time," said Kenny to a group of sophomores on Monday night. "There have been many tech people working behind the scenes for a number of years."

She explained to the students and their parents why, of all the available technology, they chose to implement iPads.

"We picked the iPad... for a number of reasons," she said, "For its ability to consume content... it's a great reader, it's a great tool for research... if a great tool to listen to audio recordings... it's also a great tool to create learning artifacts."

In talking about its integration with the facets of the classroom, she mentioned that there will be a number of portable keyboards that can hook up to the iPad for the students to use.

"A lot of teachers are getting ready to have you curate your own learning," Kenny said, "to create an electronic portfolio, where you can gather artifacts and keep them... reflect on them... how does this show that you're growing as a learner? And so this tool will help us to do that."

Kenny also spoke about how the iPads are going to open more avenues to collaborative work between students, in and out of the classroom.

"Every teacher is going to have a web presence, whether it's posting homework assignments, or be able to download documents," she said.

After Kenny explained what can, and will, be done with the devices, she began speaking about the things that cannot be done with the iPads, mostly per the Responsible Use Agreement.

"Almost all of the things prohibited in the responsible use policy are things that are illegal," explained Kenny. Some of the prohibited activities include using the iPad for bullying or harassing other students, and illegally downloading files.

She also explained that students are responsible for making the switch from using the iPad for social things, such as Facebook, to school uses.

"We're going to ask you... as students, to use this as a tool," she said. "We're going to ask that you shift from when you come to school that this is no longer your device for entertainment and playing games, but it's your device to go deeper in your learning."

After the brief presentation, the students moved downstairs to the computer labs, where, once they turned in their signed paperwork and their $25, they were given their iPad; the number on the back of the device was logged with the student's name as they were given out.

Students were encouraged to purchase a protective case that they felt would make theirs unique to them, and so that they can identify which is theirs quickly. If a student did not have a case, they were issued a black case by BBA; students could still purchase a unique one at a later time and simply return the other one to BBA.

Before they could take their iPad home, however, they still had to complete two steps to properly set up their device. Students were taken into one of the computer labs where a quick tutorial video showed them how to sign in with their Apple ID, download apps, use the interface, and so on.

Then, in another lab, they were shown how to install the three apps required by BBA: one for tracking, one for filtering, and one for mobile management.

The first app is called Prey Tracker, and will help BBA staff locate a potentially lost or stolen iPad.

The filter app will help curb any activity on the app that may be harmful to the BBA network or the students themselves; this filter will stop harmful sites from accessing the iPad, and therefore the network, as well as preventing students from accessing file sharing sites or illegally downloading content.

The mobile management app is one that will be utilized by teachers to get apps to students. If a teacher wants a student to use an app for the classroom, or a book through iBooks, then the teacher can notify the tech department, who will then remotely download the app to each student's iPad.

The apps required by the classroom, if they are not free, will be covered by BBA; however, any other app that the student wants to download to their iPad will need to be covered by the student.

The iPads will be owned by BBA, with each student loaning the device and being responsible for its care.

The protection plan allows for each student to utilize a one time replacement if the iPad is stolen, lost, or accidentally damaged; however, this does not cover damage to the sleeve, charger, or case.

The iPad initiative also extends past the classroom; Kenney explained that coaches and extra-curricular leaders may also be utilizing the devices in their activities. Also, students will be able to take their iPads home each day, and over the summer, so that they can take their learning with them.

The students will be spending more time during their advisory periods learning the best practices for their devices, both in and out of the classroom.


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