Our school recently got some iPads. I say “some” because we did not get enough for the High School to go one-to-one, but I think that was the goal before getting the iPads. So as it is, we have these “carts” of 25 iPads each, and I really didn’t think I was going to use them that much, but I decided to go ahead and get a jump on them before the other teachers had time to sign them out and use them every day.
The activity was to capture a screenshot of a sine or cosine wave. Students used Scan and QR Codes to go to my website and watch one of the 3 options of videos I made which include waves. They would pause the video on a particularly significant wave and take a screenshot. Then they would use the “Doceri” app to sketch on the wave and find Amplitude, Sinusoidal Axis, Period, and Phase Shift.
This worked really well when I did it on my own, or when I had one student do it on his own with his own iPad during study hall, but issues quickly compounded when I tried to get the whole class to do it.
Issue #1: turning in the assignments. I wanted something easier than e-mailing, so I used the neat website DropItTo.Me in addition to the app “Scan” for QR Codes, and thought “hey, I have a method for students turning in work in under a minute!” Wrong. The issue was that the iPads always named the photos “image.jpg” and so every student who uploaded overwrote the previous file. Doh! Since there is no way to rename photos (not that I could find, at least) then this was a dead end.
Next attempt: e-mail the file to me. Many students do not have a clue how to attach a file (yikes!) and most e-mail clients do not work well for safari on iPad because the iPad assumes you are going to use the native e-mail client (which we can’t use because iPads are not assigned to specific students–they’re a class set). That failed in a big way, and the bell rang as students were attempting to frantically e-mail me.
Another issue that I saw coming down the road is that the iPads are wiped clean when you connect them to the cart laptop (well, not exactly, but if I want to add any applications, I basically have to wipe them) and so students could not save files on the iPads themselves unless I didn’t touch the cart between classes (which is what I’m doing this time so that students can retrieve their photos).
Later on, I had trouble with the iPads all syncing to the laptop on the cart, and I couldn’t install applications. Well, I figured out what was preventing me (with near-administrative priviledges) from installing apps… it was that I had turned “off” the ability for students (or any user of the iPad) to install apps. DOH! Now maybe if you know the specifics of installing apps you’re saying “but they wouldn’t have the apple ID, right?” but they CAN use their own apple ID and install any apps they want. Of course hopefully all the teachers are keeping a close eye on the iPads so they don’t do that anyway, but do the users really need the ability to install apps in order for anyone to be able to install apps?!? Just another way that Apple fails when it comes to adaptability: iPads were made for individuals to use, and it is really difficult to modify the system to allow for classroom-shared carts.
Okay, that’s enough of my rant against Apple. Perhaps next blog will be a positive blog about the fun things we’re doing in Physics.
UPDATE EDIT: I found an okay solution using Google Drive–I created an account for all of my classes, and added the “Google Drive” app to the iPads, and now students can upload the images and then rename them (and organize them) as needed. The good part of this solution is that students can retrieve their work for further editing if necessary, and I can download the work on the due date very easily. The bad part of this solution is that students can rename and even delete each other’s work, which is why I encourage students to write their names on the Doceri projects, so other students cannot “steal” it. I doubt students actually would, but copying work because much easier to do (but also much easier to discover).