Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
OK, we have a cart and 30 iPads arriving Monday. I have a few questions and I was hoping someone might take pity on me.
I'm torn on a couple of points. We've had a cart of laptops for a couple years and they are used for internet research and light word processing almost exclusively. We anticipate the iPads will be used this way as well, at least in the beginning.
My thought was to have students rely on email to get documents on to or off of the devices. Predominately retrieving documents from gmail and then sending them out with an email account set up for the iPad cart. Is this reasonable? Or is there a better solution. Would something like DropBox work better? I like email as I know the students all have an email address already (we provide it to them).
Can I just set up one iTunes account for all 30 iPads? We will be setting up Volume Purchasing for apps we buy.
I also need to figure out the best way of setting them all up. Can I just set one up the way I like it and then "Restore" it to the others? Or do I need to use the iPhone Configuration utility? Will a backup->restore work to clear data and changes off the iPads?
Should I charge them up fully before leaving them for July and most of August?
I guess that's all for now,
Before I can really help with suggesting file distributing and upload I'd need to know a bit more about your current network structure and intended use.
What grade(s) will these iPads be used with? Will these be assigned to 30 individual students or rotated between different classes? Will these iPads be leaving your campus and need to access/upload files from home? It sounds like you already gave every student a gmail account trough the Google Apps for Education. How are student logins and personal files handled on the existing computers? What are your existing computers, Macs, Windows? Do you have a central school server that hosts network folders or programs?
The draft setup I've been putting together for a future iPad cart calls from the "host" computer that runs their iTunes sync to also host a set of WebDAV shared folders for both the Teacher to "Hand Out" documents, a "Hand In" folder for finished assignments, and one for each student in the class for extra personal storage. Now my site mainly uses Macs and Apple products, we even have an OSX server which I hope to use as the storage point for students. It is possible to use Windows based systems and servers the same way.
From what I understand of iTunes Volume Purchasing there are several ways to go about setting them up. First is to create a single iTunes account for the School/District/Class. You then use one activation code for that account and use it to install the App on all devices, keeping the other 29 as proof of purchase.
Another way is to distribute the activation codes to individual accounts, which then "use up" the code permanently linking it to that account. Option 2 is good for school sites that are giving out copies of apps to students personal machines. Options 1 is better for institution machines that will be returned after use. So in your case setting up a single iTunes account will likely be the better idea.
Obviously it's your choice if you want to allow students to install their own Apps (likely not) with their own iTunes accounts.
You can the "Restore" feature in iTunes to help setup the initial load-out of the iPads. Backup and Restore will clear the device and setup everything the same way the Backup was. If you are worried about lingering data from a pervious. If you want to totally lockdown the iPads from being able to install Apps you will eventually need to use the iPhone Configuration Tool to install them. This seems like the most time consuming way to do this especially if you have a number of new Apps to add.
I'd start by creating a master iPad and get it's backup. Then use that "master" to "restore" the others. Keep in mind you will want to give them each unique names, preferably not to long, "SchoolNameiPad#" should do. Then lock them down with the iPhone Configuration Tool, which is easy to do once you have the Configuration Profile you like.
I can't quite speak to the battery question. From what I recall lithium-ion batteries (like those in the iPad) should be stored at full charge.