Ed Tech Thoughts on the Space Coast

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Ed Tech Thoughts
from the
Space Coast

Mr. G. Shupe
Access Excellence Fellow
Apple Distinguished Educator

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Things I have found interesting lately- in a magazine format:
... a successful design delivers a message to the viewer that words alone can't. Design is capable of evoking atmosphere and emotion, creating a tone, and soliciting a response from the viewer.
Dave Shea
Molly E. Holzschlag
The Zen of CSS design

What if our lesson plans didn't say what the teacher would be doing, but what the students would be doing?

Carey Pohanka
a profound tweet

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Defining Software Realistically

It is no secret that technology brings about paradigm shifts and tends to be disruptive. It often demands that we rethink policy and project planning. The following was my contribution to a conversation taking place amongst Apple Distinguished Educators, but the opinions expressed below are solely my opinions and ‘thinking out loud’ about technology implementation in an education setting.

Note that this discussion is peculiar to some of the issues brought about by how Apple has built what was originally an iPhone software distribution system for individual consumers (not enterprise deployment). However, with the changes being made by the Apple MacOS X App store, it may be worth thinking differently about MacOS applications as well.

Another key observation to begin this discussion about software is the notion of Ownership. Although we talk about buying software as though we ‘own’ it, we don’t actually ‘own’ software, we purchase a license for the right to use it. As a property manager for our school system, this has caused us a lot of headaches as our institution has become more accountable for things that we have purchased. The idea of software being a physical asset that can be ’seen’ is becoming less and less common. It is delivered already installed on another physical item of significant cost, may or may not be transferrable, or may delivered by downloading. There is no physical asset to ‘tag’.

I would title this response:
"Making the Case for Personal Apple ID's for the Teacher"

A fellow ADE posted a iPad App Management scenario that was summarized as follows:
  • The staff member will create the account with district email address.  The staff will be told that if they are to leave the district or move to another position where their iPad is not needed that their Apple ID will be transferred to a new teacher.  Staff will be encouraged to download free apps with this ID and when purchased apps are needed, they will put in a request through our district's VPP process (we're creating a Google Form to expedite this process).  Therefore, apps that are collected under this account will all be district apps which leads to my next point...
  • Apple IDs can be edited/changed using the Apple ID website:  https://appleid.apple.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/MyAppleId.woa/  When logged in, you can EDIT your email address and change it to another one.

My thoughts:
While this may be a workable solution, the additional issue is that any programs that the teacher purchased with their own $$ or giftcards also would get transferred to the new teacher's account. I think this would impede adoption of the iPad as a personal lifestyle learning tool.

This is a matter of policy, inventory, and professional development policy. Unless there are funding restrictions (stipulations in a grant on how money is to be spent and items tracked), I would like to move schools and school systems that I work with into a new view of software. You are actually purchasing the 'right' to use intellectual property (code) as opposed to owning a physical object. Let's classify it as like we do consumables - unless it exceeds a relatively high price tag, we are giving teachers a somewhat temporal tool to improve the efficacy of their job function.

Apps for iOS:
  • are typically very low cost or free (I know some are very expensive)
  • fluctuate in price
  • dynamically change in their usefulness (alternatives suddenly appear that are low cost or free that are better or more appropriate)
  • are typically targeted to a very focused use or product
  • may have version changes that make them obsolete unless repurchased or replaced with another app
  • may involve in-App purchases that may not transfer cleanly with a changed Apple ID (has anyone experimented with this?)

To equip our teachers and students, we often invest in training that empowers them to be more effective on their job. Training always includes strategies or process tools. They take this training with them where ever they go. In many ways, a small focused-purpose app is a process tool more than a physical piece of hardware. Hardware is more tangible– and physically audit-able..

iOS is such a personal tool by design that we really need to move beyond the MS enterprise deployment model of micromanaging our factory workers. Changes in pedagogy are recommending differentiated, personalized learning. We need to be consistent with our teaching staff and empower them to differentiate their instruction and personalize their learning. Giving teachers a tool like a digital camera to use in their classroom is enhanced when we encourage them to become familiar with that tool by pursuing (ethically appropriate) personal interests / hobbies with that tool. Educational implementation increases with the passion derived from personal learning. Professional use of the iPad will be enhanced as the teacher uses it to buy, read, annotate books, magazines as well as use programs like iMovie to video and edit their daughter's dance rehearsal. That teacher will then have the confidence and the passion to use iMovie in the classroom with their students. They will understand the methods and advantages of eBook reading.

Most teachers will be happy to spend $1 here or there to test a new app for teaching the Periodic Table of the Elements, or Digital Storytelling. They will be even more likely to do so if they know that what they purchase with their own money will be their's to deploy on their own iDevices and to use for personal interests, etc. Furthermore, anything that they purchase will be available to them after they retire or if they move to a new school system.

So this disruptive technology really should cause us to rethink how we stage the software and media purchase for professional use. My argument is that teachers should use their own accounts that they take with them where ever they go. We can't treat software like we treat hardware for accounting definitions. Consider also that we are primarily purchasing a dozen or so general tools for teachers to use- things like the iWork trio, iMovie, Garageband, a Graphic Organizer App, etc. If we purchase bulk codes for equipping our teachers, this amounts to a one-time investment of around $50 per teacher. That investment may last a year, several years or more. It is not a lot of money to provide as a benefit of employment. I think there should be a cost threshold established, and perhaps purchase unique expensive apps such as Proloquo 2Go under a district controlled Apple ID.

So in summary, in an ideal deployment, the individual establishes their own personal Apple ID as the primary one on the device. Most of the district-purchased apps will be associated with the teacher's personal Apple ID. The teacher will be able to populate their iOS device with anything that is ethically appropriate and not used for a profit-making endeavor. They will be responsible for their own updates and backups. The district will provide core Apps through volume discount purchase voucher codes associated with the teacher's personal Apple ID as a non-recurring, expendable item expense. The district will use their own school/district account to install very expensive apps or apps that have been acquired through a grant or funding source that limits personal ownership. These apps will be regularly updated by the district or school tech specialist with the special account password, then device will be logged out of the school/district account and logged back in to the teacher's personal account. I think this method is also ultimately desirable for student issued iOS devices, but that is another topic entirely.
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