I was asked to go to a meeting tomorrow to consult on an iPad image for our board. These iPads will be going to K-8 schools in our district. I am honored to have been asked to give my input and I have been thinking about how I will answer this complicated question.
I have been blessed with 20 iPads in my room this year. I decided what apps to put on them. I have a very supportive administrator, so if I go to him with a request for an app, he trusts that it is a worthwhile app and lets me purchase it. There has been no red tape, no request forms for some IT guy to have to put the app on my iPads. There is no waiting, I ask my administrator, he says yes and I download the apps.
I was at Edcamp Detroit last month and heard horror stories from other teachers about having to put in a request to get an app on their class iPads that could take weeks to complete. Many times, with an inquiry based classroom, something will come up and I will need an app right away. For example, we have been learning about frogs, I found a couple free apps about frog life cycles and a fantastic book on frogs that was $3.99. The inquiry could last a day, a week or a month. If I had to wait for an approval for an app or even worse, someone from IT to put the app on the device, it wouldn't be worth putting the request in because the inquiry might be over before the app was ever installed. I'm not sure how my district is going to go about this. Right now it is up to the principal on which apps go on the school iPads and who has the password to load the apps onto the iPads. I will be addressing my concerns about this tomorrow.
Another topic that I want to bring up is that different grade levels need different apps. I feel that we need to develop 3 images. An early years image (junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten), a primary image (grades 1-3) and a junior/intermediate image (grades 4-8). There will definitely be common apps on all 3 images, however I feel that it is easier to manage 3 different accounts in the school. I know that the early years classroom teachers have downloaded many phonics related apps that my grade 2's do not need, and I like to download math apps related to what math strand we are currently learning that would not necessarily pertain to the junior and intermediate classes.
I do have a list of must have apps for my classroom iPads. If we didn't have any "games" on our iPads I would be fine with that. However, I would be really disappointed if I didn't see the following apps on the iPads we use in my classroom everyday.
Must Have Apps for a Board Wide iPad Image (In My Opinion)
What are your "must have" apps that you and your students couldn't live without?