Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Setting up an iPad cart and iPad accessories

When the iPad cart first showed up in my room, I was so excited to use them with my students.  But there were some things I needed to do to set them up to ensure that they would not get scratched up, to ensure that they would all be returned to the right spot, and actually returned, and that I had all the right accessories for my students.

First, I made sure to assign each student their own iPad.  I have a class set, so my six classes of students needed to share them.  They are all responsible for their iPads and I know if something is wrong, I can narrow down who might have made any changes.  I also gave each student a log in sheet where they wrote their assigned iPad number and any user names and passwords for different websites and apps we were using.  My students were hesitant about writing down their passwords, but it has come in handy many times for MANY of my students.

To protect the iPads, I purchased covers for them.  The first ones I ordered were too big for the Breton cart - one iPad in a cover would fit in its slot, but not all of them next to each other.  Amazon let me return them, and I ordered another set of covers.  These ones included a clear back case (which allows the iPad number to show through) and a black smart cover (an apple knockoff).  They fit in the cart and allow the students to cover the screen when I am talking to them and want their full undivided attention.  The iPads tend to be a little distraction when they are on and in front of them.

Next, I added sticker labels to the cart.  The Breton cart had numbers in the metal, but they were above the iPads.  Students seem to have a hard time putting their iPad in the correct slot, since the number is too high above the iPad.  The stickers were easy and ensure the students are putting their iPads away correctly, I placed them right in front of where they slide their iPad in.

The iPads get smudgy and lots of fingerprints on the screen, so I purchased some inexpensive microfiber cloths to keep on the cart for students to use to clean the screens.

Next, I discovered that when my students were making videos and screencasts, and the entire class was doing the same thing, the iPad microphone recorded everything.  It was hard to hear the student speaking in a lot of the videos.  So I purchased some earbuds with microphones built in, the kind that come with iPhones.  Amazon has some cheap knockoffs that work pretty well.  I purchased 14 of them.  I don't need one for each student, many of my students had their own.  I also got little headphone cord keepers to store them neatly.  I have required that students bring their own earbuds with them daily, not all of them do, but enough have them.  I did also purchase a alcohol dispenser (like the kind at a dr.'s office) and cotton balls so they can wipe off the earbuds before sticking them in their ears.

When students are in groups, I don't always want to hear their iPads, so I purchased some Belkin earphone splitters.

The headphones and earbuds can disappear very easily, so to keep track of them, and to not have to rifle through them and count them each period, I purchased some organizer boxes from JoAnn's craft store.  They are all numbered, as well as the earbuds and headphones, and I can easily see if any are missing at the end of the period, w/o having to count.  Students check them out by putting their student ID in the compartment that they took the headphones/earbuds out of.  It has worked well, and I have not lost any of the items since I bought the boxes.

I am sure there are more things I will learn as I continue to use the iPads.  My next step is to make a background screen for each iPad with the iPad number.

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