I synced the iPod touches over the first two days of class, and I learned a lot in the process. First and foremost, I reinforced the fact that I hate reading directions, and that not reading directions adds time to tasks if you are unsure what you are doing.
To ID and sync the iPods, the computer walks you through the basic steps on the iTunes interface, so I was supremely confident that I did not need the manual. I was so confident that I timed myself during the set up and hit a consistent 6 minutes per iTouch to ID the units. I even “Tweeted” the fact that it was so easy. I completed the ID of about 15 iTouches on Thursday afternoon and finished the process Friday morning.
After all 25 were ID’d I plugged in the cart to sync the first 20. The cart holds 20 in a drawer with each drawer having its own USB cord to connect to the computer. This is the step where I realized that I should have read the manual. When I plugged in the USB and turned on the cart, every single application in my iTunes account began loading into the iTouches. This was an issue, because I have my daughter’s apps on my Macbook too. My high school students did not need letter tracing and beginner puzzles on the iPods. I had to go back in and reset the application tab to “Sync only selected apps.” This allowed me to pick and choose which applications I wanted on the school iTouches. It was not a major problem, but I should have done this when I named each iPod.
At this stage, I also made adjustments for podcasts,which I will be using often in class. I set the iPods up for selected podcasts. At a later date I will push podcasts over to the iPods for the students to use. I repeated the process for the remain 5 iPods in the bottom drawer.
I now know to read directions, but more importantly, I realized that I can use the iPods to differentiate instruction for my students. I can adjust the content on each individual iPod depending on the student, then I can push information through, or sync up to 20 at a time. It is a pretty cool set up.
So overall, if you set up the iPods properly from the beginning, it should take about 10 minutes to ID an iPod and set the upload criteria for all apps, photos, and podcasts. It is still a small amount of time for a major benefit. I lost a bit of time doing things my way, but in the end, I learned a fairly good bit of knowledge about the iPods.
I am going to take a step back and outline the project I will be blogging about over the upcoming school year. This year we are piloting a project that will utilize iPod Touches as a computer in the classroom. I believe we can use them in place of a laptop, for the most part.
I have been researching mobile technology for learning for the last cpuple of years in graduate school. I believe it is the next step in integrating technology in the classroom. Many colleges and universities already use them for educational purposes, as do several school districts in Pennsylvania. There a number of my colleagues throughout the country who are also working on such initiatives, so I have a strong network for support. Our representative from Apple is also a huge help with this project. If I get permission to use her name, I will name her later.
Our set-up consists of twenty-five iPod Touches, 8 Gig, and one cart to synch them all together. The iPods are engraved with an ID number for tracking. I have researched many apps for student use, there are many and they are all free, you can pay for an upgraded version, but for now we are working with the free levels.The nice thing is that we control all of the material that goes onto the iPods, they will be synced to my account. This will prevent the students from downloading content to them without permission.
We are going to purchase over the ear headphones for the iPods, they are relatively inexpensive, but students will be encouraged to use their own earbuds. I will purchase about ten microphones so we can record onto the iPods. The way the iPods will be set up will allow students to surf the Internet, create documents, create audio files, upload and save content to the district’s Google Domain. They will also be able to access content that I place on the iPods at their own pace. If a student needs to review a video or audio file, a picture, or some other multi-media they will be able to do so on the iPod Touch. Students will also be able to take notes in class, using Evernote, and synch all information to any computer they use.
This is the basic plan, more details will follow throughout the year.
Today I went in to work on setting up the iPod Touches and cart for my classes. I did not get them synched, but I did get the cart ready for class. All iPod touches are engraved on the back, I added a printed label for an easier read. I also labeled the slots in the cart for the iPods. This will enable me to hand the iTouches out to the students and replace them quickly. I am betting I will lose at least ten minutes of class time to sign them in and out per period at first. I am hoping that this time decreases as we go through the year. I am also hoping for our school converting to block scheduling eventually…someday…it would make the time loss of setting up the technology minimal.
The district’s Technology Director and I finalized the sign out policy, I will have the students initial a sheet, printed out from my grade book, when they pick up and return their iPod. This will help keep tabs on who gets each iPod, a simple check mark could easily lead to sloppiness. The initialling will keep everyone, focused on tracking the iPods during the period.
I also looked over the cart and the procedure for syncing the iPods, it looks easy enough, just a bit time consuming. The manual approximated 20 minutes for 1 Gig of info for 20 iPods. The next step will be the most tedious, it is also the first step. I have to give each iPod a name and set it up with my Macbook. Once this is done, I will be able to sync 20 at a time. Over the next several days I will get this done and begin synching all of them with my computer.
For now I will be using all free applications for the iPods, I want to see how far we can go before we have to start spending money for them. A list of the applications I will be using can be found at the following link, https://nbasdcff.wikispaces.com/iPod+Apps+for+Sal%27s+Class. This page will be kept updated with which apps we are using and which we have dropped and why.
I plan on keeping a running journal on the project stating the good, the bad, the ugly, and the how did we adjust over the course of the year. More will follow later this week once I try to name and synch the iPods.