Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Staff Training: The Start of the 'iPad Journey'


The 'iPad journey' began approximately a year ago, back in March 2011. I attended an Apple educational event, during which I got to use an iPad 1 and an iPod touch. The iPad 2 hadn't been released in the UK and at this stage I was unsure about how either of these handheld devices were really going to make an impact on the learning at school - they were faster and easier to use for sure, but they didn't seem to offer any more than the software we already had on laptops and PCs. A couple of months passed and I decided to buy my own iPad 2... I was hooked! My then 3 year old, was showing an interest (she had her own folder of games on my iPhone), and wanted to have a go. I reluctantly downloaded her a few games and soon she had her own folder of apps, but this time on my iPad. It was at this point that I was beginning to see the huge potential that this device could have back at school. She was learning to count, do simple subtraction and addition problems, recognise different shapes, listen to stories, learn her alphabet, beginning to spell out words and learn how to write letters, all this with very little guidance or support - she was having fun learning!
My daughters (2 & 4 years old) sharing an iPad
Summer was over, so I wanted to investigate iPads in education further. I attended numerous Apple training event (event twilight sessions!), read numerous blogs, visited schools already using handheld devices (iPads and iPods), loaned some iPads from our local authority - timetabled them for classes and ran an iPad club. I collected children's and teacher's view - it was a winner, iPads were the future!

iPads for Teachers

It was decided after numerous discussions that all teachers should have their own iPad first before a big investment for the future was made. This decision was not made likely, but it was decided on the basis that if this handheld technology is going to have maximum impact throughout the school, from the nursery through to Year 6, then teachers had to be confident with this technology. Initially, five members of staff (head, deputy, phase leaders and ICT coordinator) were given an iPad. This was a chance for them to discover apps, become confident with the device, to make sure that an investment in this technology was going to be worthwhile and ultimately how they could use the iPad to impact children's learning.

Staff Training - The Basics

Staff Training on iPads

I aimed to start the teacher training session with the basics, then move onto the functionality of some of the apps. The basics on an iPad are fairly easy to master (hey, my 2 year old daughter can switch between apps) but some of the features of the device can take some time to get used to. Some apps are easy to get to grips whilst other are more challenging and not equal in terms of functionality. 
  • Turning the iPad on and off
  • Smart Cover
Smart Covers
  • Passcodes (teachers should be in complete control of their iPad and keep the password to themselves and never share it with the children).
  • Home button
  • Volume buttons and mute button
  • Viewing in Portrait and Landscape
  • Multi-touch gestures
  • Zooming in and out
  • Adjusting the brightness
  • Keyboard and split keyboard
  • Connecting iPad to a computer
  • Re-arranging apps and organising with folders (adding and removing icons, closing, renaming and deleting apps).
  • Notifications
  • Customising the home screen: Wallpaper HD to personalise each iPad.
  • Safari - add to bookmarks, add to reading lists, add to home screen, open a new page, reader, zoom in and out, copy and paste.
  • Camera - still and videos. Viewing, sharing and printing.
  • Photos - viewing photos and videos
  • VGA Cables
VGA Cable

  • Calendar
School Calendar

  • Contacts - Contacts are synced between devices
  • Apple TV
Apple TV

  • Mail - Setting up email accounts is the primary way to get information off the iPad onto the computer at school. Although during the session we ran into a few issues setting up a POP mail account, especially our outgoing mail server which wouldn't work on our wireless network - to be investigated by our technician.

Staff Training - The Apps

With over 500000 apps on the App Store it can be a daunting task searching through all of the apps which could be useful for both children and teachers in primary school. I have spent many hour trawling through the app store looking for apps, both from a personal point of view, and for appropriate apps for my two daughters, aged 2 and 4. Furthermore, with my teacher hat on I have looked for apps which could enhance the teaching and the learning in my Year 6 class. Similarly, searching the Internet for advice on apps for use in the primary classroom can be difficult, although recently I have received some great advice on Twitter and excellent links particularly from these sites and their creators;
The apps that were eventually selected (many of which are on my blogs) have been grouped into folders, although this is not an exhaustive list as I see the iPads constantly evolving as apps are removed and added as new ones are discovered. 
Home Screen

Once the basics had been covered I selected a few apps to show, which I've listed below: 

What Next?

As I only really managed to scratch the surface of the apps on the teachers iPads in the training session, so it was decided that we should ask other teachers to get involved to share their knowledge of an app(s) because teachers were clearly embracing this technology. For example, over Easter a teacher had done some fantastic artwork using Brushes, one had created some great iMovie trailers with his children and another had created his own music in GarageBand. This creativity had to shared! Therefore, throughout the summer-term every Monday during staff meeting I've timetabled teachers (those who are willing!?) to share an app with the rest of the staff. 


  1. I think this is really good step to teach students. I know it is a difficult task for teachers because primary students are didn't know how to operate it.

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    1. Hi James, thanks for taking the time for the feedback. At our school we felt that teachers had to be confident with the iPads first before sets of them are bought for the children to use. The aim of this strategy is (hopefully) to have maximum impact on the teaching and learning. Do you use this technology at your college? Hope your essay goes well.

  2. Hi - I eventually got all the iPads sorted and handed out to the teachers. So armed with their new 'toys', a quickly put together Getting Started Manual (basic stuff I had found including a great visual of an iPad with arrows to all the buttons, plus a list of the apps downloaded and what they were for) and the joy of having them over half term I let them loose. The feedback so far has been overwhelming from the less enthusiastic to the techno geeks. To hear someone who is not very ICT savvy, so animated about the movie she had made with her 20 year old son was fantastic. I feel I should also start my own iPad Journey that I can share with the staff over the next few months, as I think it is going to be very interesting. Thanks again for your brilliant blogs and tweets, they are keeping me on the right track to imlementing iPads at our primary school.
    Thanks from Mandy Robinson (mandyrobbo on Twitter)

    1. Thanks for the comment Mandy. Brilliant to hear that all staff have embraced their new iPads. I'll shall look forward to your blog about your school's 'iPad journey' in the future!?

  3. Hi David, I'm just beginning reading about your iPad journey. I seem to have been on a very similar journey - we got 30 iPads and 30 iPod touches last Feb and I've since deployed them throughout the school. Not unlike yourself, I've set ours up with a wealth of apps for a range of purposes. Looking forwards to exploring your blog more. Apologies in advance for all the comments that will soon follow!

    1. Hi J Hughes. Many thanks for the comment. I'd love to hear more about your iPad Journey. Which school and where are you in the UK? Keep the comments coming, they're always welcome :-)

  4. Enjoyed this a lot, thanks. our school are stuck in the stone ages and myself and another colleague re working on something similar to yourself (hopefully!) Are you buying any ipads for the school? Also are you on Twitter? Would like to follow your progress!

    1. Your welcome Mr Connor. You need to get your school out of the stone age and into 21st century learning! We are buying 16 iPads each for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. We are also buying 60 iPods in Year 6. I'm on Twitter. You can follow me @dmandrews15. There's a link at the top of the blog.

  5. Pretty amazing how many schools are adopting iPads -- instead of COMPUTERS, which is what the kids SHOULD be learning how to use.

    Fact: 87% of devices in the "real world" are Windows. 2% are iOS (and this is mostly iPhones.) I'm no Windows fan, but if the real world has an 87% chance of demanding a skill from my students, that is the skillset I am going to teach them. Not the one they have a 2% likelihood of encountering.

    Fact: iPads CANNOT access MILLIONS of websites because about 33% of websites run Flash (source: Opera Metadata Analysis and Mining Application); that's just the Flash ones, but iPads also can't access Java, Shockwave, Unity, etc. People say "Oh, but that's obsolete... those sites are being replaced with HTML5" Not from the education websites I've seen, that's not the case (I have only seen ONE currently doing this)

    Fact: If tablets are really what schools want, Android ones can do the same things as iPad -- PLUS access all of those online resources (usually free, saving even MORE money by not having to buy apps)... for less than the cost of an iPad.

    Fact: iPads limit students access to learning opportunities online. There are a total of about 250,000 iPad apps (altogether, not just educational ones). There are a over 100 million Flash websites. Nope, there's NOT "an app for that."

    English Websites DON'T Work on iPad: http://youtu.be/nNt6nFR8OIc

    STEM Websites DON'T Work on iPad: http://youtu.be/hFDSNEjjTWY

    Social Studies Websites DON'T Work on iPad: http://youtu.be/BZxDvA0wg00

    1. Thanks for the comment Kid Electric. I'm interested to know exactly which computer skills the children need in the 'real world' that they can't learn on an iPad?

      A lot of your comments about computers talks about accessing content online to further students learning opportunities. If you believe this is the best way to further the learning in your class, then that's your decision as an educator. I believe different. I believe that the iPad can enhance the learning of the children that I teach, in ways that computers can't, if it doesn't then I shouldn't be using it. The iPad should be used creatively to demonstrate children's learning and understanding, by using apps such as iMovie, Creative Book Builder, GarageBand, Comic Designer etc. The iPad creates content in a way, which is engaging and polished that the computer cannot rival (in my opinion). You can read any of my recent blog post, which I wouldn't have been able to replicate using a computer.

      I agree any mobile device such as the Android or Nexus 7 can assist the learning if used creatively (I've not used these devices enough to be able to comment). It's not all about the iPad, but why would you buy mobile devices to access the same content you can on a computer? i.e 'online resources'. If a school has bought iPads or any other mobile device to be used as a consumption device, then they're are not getting the most of what this device can offer and have wasted a lot of money. There may be a time and a place for an 'app for that', but to impact learning across the curriculum then I want the device to be used to create content, not always access it.

      I welcome your thoughts.

  6. Thanks for posting your Staff Training. It's always interesting for me to see what others are up to so I can tweak what I do. Here are a few links you might be interested in:
    iPad Exploration - Professional Development - http://balancedtech.wikispaces.com/iPad+Exploration
    Apps Taskonomy - Professional Development - http://balancedtech.wikispaces.com/Apps+Taskonomy & http://balancedtech.wikispaces.com/BLC12+-+iPad+Apps+For+Creativity

  7. I have seen a daycare center wherein they are using ipad as a part of their teaching technique since there are plenty of applications that can be use for educational purposes. Using such kind of device keeps the children interested than showing them a book or writing on the blackboard.

    iPad Case Stand

  8. Dear Mr Andrews
    I would like permission to use a section from one of your blogs in a book I am writing (its a well established book going into a new edition). How do I go about making such a request? If you could reply to

    this is an email address created just for your reply.

    Best wishes