Monday, September 24, 2012

Student Initiative: My Big Oppsie

Last week Apple published it's new iOS update to iOS 6.  To be honest, I hadn't really given it a lot of thought.  I was going to give it a week or two and see what people had to say, then I was going to update my stuff and test it out.  After I was satisfied, I would arrange to update the student iPads.  Of course, I never relayed this intention to the students or their families since I wasn't ready.  It never dawned on my that the students would take the initiative to update their iPads on their own.  oops...

If the students had all of the apps under their own apple ID, I wouldn't care so much, but although the students could update their OS, they could not update the apps that were under the schools account, and of course some of our more important apps quit working.  (thank you Murphy's law)  Suddenly I am getting emails and phone calls from educators, students and parents making it sound like the sky was falling.  Seriously.....I had to look up to make sure the sky was still in it's proper place.

Ultimately the solution was simple....update the apps on any iPad where students updated the iOS and tell the other students to hold off on an update.  We used Apple Configurator to create the iPad images, but learned that we could also manually update apps without Configurator, so I was able to walk around and offer a "quick fix" for anyone who needed it.  Whew!....problem solved...for now.

Obviously I need to deal with two issues.  1 - communicating with families, teachers and students about what NOT to update and 2 - how to schedule updates.  I need to do this in a way that will have the least impact on the classroom and is sustainable for a very small technology department.  Reviewing the student schedule I believe this can be done during PE and lunch times.  We can update small groups of iPads during these times throughout the week and this way no students would have to go without their iPad during class.  A bit of a stretch for the tech department, but it's doable and most importantly does not adversely affect student learning.

If we had a help desk, these issues would be much smaller than they are, or if I were willing to take the iPads away from students during a time when they would usually use them.  A help desk is never going to happen (we don't have the personnel or the space for one) and telling students and teachers that iPads are not available because I need a more convenient way to update, simply isn't a solution I am willing to entertain.

Schools support technology in a variety of ways and each school has a different philosophy of technology in education.  Some schools/districts struggle to find the balance between the needs of technology (servers and services) and the need to maintain a modern classroom.  Some schools focus on infrastructure as a way to provide services to teachers, administrators and students.  What happens (or can happen) in the classroom is based on what the infrastructure can handle.  In many of these situations, infrastructure concerns are paramount.  Some schools take a different approach.  My school reverses the process and we start from what we want to do in the classroom and build our technology infrastructure around that.  Students MUST be the primary focus, and although the intentions are great, if the technology infrastructure is dictating what is possible in the classroom, we will loose site of what is important...the kids.  

I would be interested to hear what you have to say about your technology department.  How does education technology and information technology merge together?  Who is in charge?  How are classrooms supported?  Feel free to leave a comment on this post or send me an email at

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