So after some reluctance, the nice man from XMA finally convinced me that I should consider iPads for my school.
I am considering them.
To help convince me he left me with an iPad – a whole one. In fact he left two and I gave the other to a keen colleague who is bound to get the most out of it.
Now if you’ve read any of my previous posts you may be thinking that this isn’t a fair trial – he’s such a Google fanboy you’re thinking. If it doesn’t say Chromebook nearby he’s not interested. Actually, what I’m interested in is getting rid of the servers in school and having devices that spend more time in children’s hands than in the hands of technicians. I have to concede that the iPad may be such a device.
So what about those first twenty four hours.
The first thing I did was get onto Amazon and order an Apple TV. I was really keen to see how the iPad might link to that and make the art of instructing children more efficient. That ordered, I picked up the iPad and started sweeping left and right on the screen: swishing my fingers with gusto. I soon realised that with only 2% charge I would have limited swishing, so plugged in the iPad to my laptop to charge. Only it didn’t charge. iPads only charge via USB when they’re off. Oh well. I switched off, my growing excitement thwarted, and left it to charge.
Later on that day, when it had reached 28% charge I had another go and made it connect to our school network. No problem – it coped with the proxy fine too – a distinct advantage over Android devices which seem to be sadly lacking in the proxy department (I believe this stems from a philosophical issue at Google who can’t believe that people would want to filter their internet). I had a few more swishes at this point and tried to sign up to iCloud but realised that with the XMA email as the iPad’s user account I wouldn’t be able to do too much. I really wanted to see how Google Docs and mail worked on the device but realised that I would need to download the App, which needed a working iTunes password, which I didn’t have. I was stuck.
And so I went home.
There I had my only technical disappointment. Bizarrely it wouldn’t connect to my wifi unless I was in the same room as the access point. All the other devices I have – my Lenovo laptop, Chromebook, Nexus 7 and Galaxy – all connect with no problem anywhere in the house, but not so the iPad.
Reasoning that I shouldn’t give up on the device just because of my own priorities, that evening I had a go with some of the Apps on there. I was blown away by Garage Band – the sound of the guitars was just so authentic. I had a quick look at Sock Puppets and Morph, but the download-my-own-Apps itch was still there so I wiped the iPad and set it up with my own iTunes account.
I had owned an iPhone until a year months ago and so still had a range of functional apps to download. And of course I could get those Google Apps ones I wanted to try.
Google Docs works really well on the iPad – it has similar functionality to an Android device, you can only create text documents or spreadsheets and the sharing options are not completely comprehensive. But it works well. I was also able to explore how to sync my mail onto it, although it is rather overwhelming now having 4 devices all telling me that I have email.
The next day, I could see by the smile on my colleague’s face that she’d done a lot better than I had. She had made a brilliant little animation using Sock Puppets that made me regret wiping the device the night before – now I’m going to have to pay for that App myself! And Garage Band!
Speaking of Apps, the Google Doc I made was intended to gather up some recommendations for great Apps to use. If you have any do get on to the document and add them – I’ve embedded it below so you can see how the list is coming along.
Over the next couple of days I’m going to be investigating Evernote and that Apple TV device when it arrives.
To sum up how I’m feeling – I’m not desperately excited about the device in itself, but I am excited by what other teachers and students will do with it when they get hold of them.