Buying your iPads

iPads

There are three key factors in determining your supplier: price, availability of stock and support. I also include location as a fourth, but slightly less crucial, factor.

There are a number of suppliers available, from Apple direct to a wide range of Apple resellers.

 

Price

You should expect to secure a discount on the iPads and any accessories that you need. The size of discount you will get will vary, but the chances are you will be able to persuade any Apple reseller to price match their competitors. My experience was that Apple direct are unwilling to match the price of the resellers.

 

Availability of stock

Most of the Apple resellers will probably suffer from shortages of iPads and other Apple products at certain times of the year. This is especially the case around Christmas and following the release of a new product. It is worth discussing with any potential supplier whether they will be able to fulfil your needs and if they can what is the timescale.

 

Support

Many of the larger suppliers will have a dedicated education team with an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) on the staff. The ADE will be able to provide support and training. If you spend enough money in one go you will be able to receive a day’s free training.

 

Location

There are advantages in having a supplier on your doorstep as it will make accessing the support much easier. For the majority of schools their suppliers will all be located some distance away, but it is still worth considering if they are located close enough to make visiting the school in one day a possibility.

 

Choosing which iPad to buy

At the moment there are two types (generations) of iPads available: the iPad 2 and the iPad (whilst Apple simply call it the iPad it is referred to by many as the iPad 3, iPad retina display or 4th generation iPad!).

The key differences between the two can be summarised by the following:

 

iPad 2 iPad Verdict
Display A good quality screen, but not quite as sharp as the iPad 3 “Retina” display where individual pixels can’t be seen. iPad 3 screen is beautiful and sharp. Will it make a difference to teaching as the iPad 2′s is certainly adequate.
Processor 1Gz dual core processor with 512MB of RAM 1Gz dual core processor with 1000MB of RAM and a quad core graphics unit. It means that the iPad 3 will run a bit quicker (although some bench marking tests show the iPad 2 is quicker). You will notice the difference playing high end games
Siri Not available A voice activated assistant You maybe glad of its absence in the classroom!
Price (16GB) £329 £399 Not an insignificant difference especially when buying in bulk.
Camera 0.7 megapixel 5.0 megapixel Whilst the iPad 2 can record video in HD the iPad 3′s is significantly better.
Battery life Lasts longer in all of the tests. The better screen and processor use the bigger battery quicker. An obvious advantage for the iPad 2

The prices quoted in the table above are the recommended retail prices that include VAT. I have already mentioned that you should secure a discount and the school will not have to pay VAT.

 

Protecting the iPads: cases

Whilst there are no moving parts to break, the iPad does have beautiful, shiny screen that must be protected. You have probably read some of the horror stories that certain newspapers like to publish about massive percentages of iPads being broken by spoilt brats!

There is a very wide range of cases produced Buy Viagra by Apple and a number of different suppliers. The iPad cases generally will protect the iPad body and have a flip cover that protects the screen when closed and can be used as a stand when open.

If buying a class set you will probably wish to purchase identical cases whereas if you opt for a 1 to 1 approach then you may want to give students the freedom to choose from a range of recommended cases. Your iPad supplier should be able to give you a generous discount on cases.

 

Protecting the iPads: insurance

To guard against damage, loss or theft it is possible to take two approaches to insurance: self-insurance or to use an insurance company.

It is possible to purchase insurance for the iPads that insures against accidental damage, loss or theft. These policies can normally be purchased for any period between one and four years. You can expect to pay around £20 a year for this insurance with the per year cost falling for longer policy lengths.

Self insurance means that you don’t have to pay any insurance costs upfront, but you would have to pay out each time for the life of the iPad. If you buy iPad 2s at a cost of £250 per unit and insurance costs £62.50 for four years it will be cheaper to self-insure if you have to replace fewer than 1 in 4 iPads over that time period. This is obviously the riskier option, but it could work out to be the cheaper option over the four years.

 

My approach to buying your iPads

I contacted a number of resellers in addition to Apple directly. I found that the resellers all quoted around the same price and were certainly willing to price match their competitors. Apple themselves were the most expensive and unwilling to price match. I was then left with making a choice based upon the other factors I have already highlighted. I found a number of resellers were very supportive of the educational market and had an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) on the staff who would be able to support us after we had made any purchases. I am delighted with the company I have chosen to work with as I feel that they genuinely want to assist our school in achieving our vision; this is something that permeates throughout the business from the owner. They are also close enough to enable the ADE to visit our school in one day.

I have purchased iPad 2s for our staff and class sets. I did not feel that the extra cost of the retina display and a faster processor could be justified (£1,500 extra for one class set).

We have also bought iPads for those students entitled to Pupil Premium. I have bought iPad 3s for these students as well as paying for the insurance for the duration of their time at our school.

I have chosen two types of cases for our class sets. Both have a protective back cover and a magnetic front cover. I avoided the Apple Smart Case due to their higher cost than 3rd party suppliers.

We have opted to self insure at the moment. We haven’t had any damage to our iPads so far – I may just have been lucky! If we move to a 1 to 1 scheme I would insure the iPads for the duration of the student’s time with us.

 

Buying your iPads checklist

  • Decide upon a supplier
  • Choose which iPads to purchase
  • Choose which case to buy for the iPads
  • Make the decision between an insurance company and self-insurance
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Why choose iPads

Best_tablets

 

Image from PC Advisor

Why choose iPads?

This is a question you will be asked a lot! There are alternatives to tablets and there lots of tablets on offer in a highly competitive market. You will need a well rehearsed statement that justifies your decision; share it as often as you can and encourage those you work closely with to do the same. This is a decision that I didn’t come to quickly or easily, but I believe the iPad offered the best solution to my school at this point in time.

 

Tablets v computer rooms

There has been a fundamental shift in the way teachers that want to use ICT; colleagues often don’t need access to computers for a whole lesson and they are often filling time with ICT tasks because they feel the need to use the computers they have booked or the layout of an ICT suite prevents the students from working in any other way. This is a wasteful use of expensive equipment and the room. A lot of teaching time will be wasted in ICT rooms given the time it takes for a class to move rooms and successfully log on

Tablets allow teachers to stay in their classrooms and use them as and when required. This will enable the computer rooms to be used by those teachers and students who need access to the PCs in there.

 

Tablets v laptops

Any teacher will tell you that every lesson is a race against the clock as we aim to complete schemes of learning in the prescribed time.  Tablets allow for a much more seamless transition between activities that require technology and those that don’t.

Laptops, compared to tablets, take longer to boot up, take up more space on the desk and weigh considerably more.  They also create a barrier between the students and teacher in the class, whereas the tablets lead to a far more open environment. Tablets don’t have the moving parts that a laptop have and are therefore more robust and less likely to break over time.

 

iPads v other tablets

The decision for me was essentially between an iPad and one of the many Android tablets available. The obvious downside to the iPad is its higher cost than the Android counterparts. Many cite that the “locked nature” of the iPad, meaning that it is difficult to modify and attach external storage to it, is a disadvantage, but with 1200 tech savvy and curious students this was perceived to be a potential advantage!

The range of apps available for the iPad that can transform teaching and learning is greater. Apple is also far more rigorous in the checks that an app has to go through before it’s allowed on the App Store than its Android counterpart; this would leave students less vulnerable as they would not have access to inappropriate apps.

I will look at Apple TV in greater detail later on, but they were another significant factor in choosing the iPad.

The other big competitor to have entered the tablet market is Microsoft’s Surface. I want the tablet to empower students and enable them to become creators of their own learning through videos, digital storytelling, and eBooks. I feel that the iPad and its apps better support this vision at this point in time. Microsoft’s Surface maybe closer to having a computer, but I believe teaching and learning can be better enhanced by having the flexibility of the iPad in the students’ hands.

The iPad performs the basic functions of a computer pretty well, but it is also a recording and editing suite for videos, music, text and images that has the ability to publish to a wide range of different platforms.

 

Dealing with the naysayers

You will no doubt hear from those who will regale tales of their youth where they managed to learn without iPads and still managed to make a success of themselves. You should remind yourself, and others, of your vision and how you are preparing students for a world in which ICT is embedded and competition for jobs is on a global scale. Patrick Larkin, an American Princpal, replied to a letter criticising his iPad pilot and the fact great minds had been productive without them with the following, “I agree with some of what you say, but the point is that none of the creators of classic work that you mentioned had is hgh a steroid the opportunity to use technology like an iPad.  While I have no problem with pencil and paper or someone who prefers to get a task done with those tools, I think we have to face the fact that the world has changed and that the jobs that our students will be working in will probably not be employing paper and pencils. Learning happens and it happens in many more ways than what you and I were programmed to think in our traditional experiences.

Having said this, I think that the role of public education is to prepare students for the real world. The fact of the matter is that the people outside of our schools, in the real world, are using these tools more and more. My doctor walks into the exam room with an iPad in his hand and the pilot who flew the last plane I traveled on also utilized an iPad in lieu of his old flight manual.

Whether we like it or not, I think that the our students need experiences utilizing modern resources like tablets or whatever comes next. While I do not think technology can be used to do everything (i.e. DaVinci’s masterpieces), I am pretty sure these great minds would have taken advantage of modern technology. In fact, I am thinking that Plato would have been much happier with a pencil that had an eraser instead of something along the lines of a metal stylus that was probably in his hands at the time.”

 

My approach to why choose iPads

My school doesn’t have enough computer rooms to match the demand by teachers. Almost every computer room is used to full capacity and there is a greater need for ICT facilities. We don’t have the space to convert classrooms into computer rooms as the school is full and every room is fully utilised. This, coupled with my belief about how computers are being used in school, meant that increasing the number of computer rooms wasn’t an option.

Given that my vision is based upon the movement towards a 1 to 1 scenario, I felt the weight of laptops was the main reason to discount them. The other option I looked into was Google’s Chromebooks. These were an attractive option as the school has moved to Google Apps and students and staff are making increased use of the Google suite of products. The downside for me of the Chromebooks (and additional disadvantages of laptops) were the barrier they placed between the teacher and student in the classroom and the number of moving parts in them that could be broken.

This left me convinced that tablets would be the best option for the school. They are light, turn on instantly, sit on the desk like a book and have two way facing cameras. This left the question of what tablet to go for.

I have explained my choice of tablet above. This proved to be the most controversial of my choices. There were a few individuals who felt that Android was the better option or that we should wait and see what happens over the next couple of years. I am confident that I have made the best decision at this point in time. I am not naive enough to say that the iPad will always be my tablet of choice, but it certainly is now. I am also confident that there are gains to be enjoyed in teaching and learning now and they are significant enough to justify making a decision now whilst others sit on the fence.

When I was asked the question about why was I looking at introducing mobile technology into the school I would refer to my vision and belief in the fact that it would benefit teaching and learning. I also felt that it was a significantly cheaper and more appropriate way of introducing more ICT into the school. If we hadn’t moved towards the iPad pilot we would have been looking at ways of adding an additional computer room into the school. That would have been extremely expensive, very difficult to do, but I would bet it would have generated fewer questions about costs!

 

Why choose iPads checklist

  • Have a clear rationale for choosing iPads over competing technologies.
  • Share that rationale and encourage those you work with to do the same.
  • Prepare your answer to the question of why do you need mobile technologies at all.
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