My conversation with middle school students using 1:1 iPads at Waverly-Shell Rock

Photos from @SKwikkel

Photo from @SKwikkel

As part of our district’s 1:1 study, we recently sent a team to visit the 1:1 iPad roll out at Waverly-Shell Rock schools. During this visit, I had several opportunities to visit with students regarding their 1:1 roll out.  These aren’t the official notes from our entire group, but instead, just my personal notes. Also keep in mind, these replies only represent those that I talked with and may not be representative of the entire school.

Also visit:  My notes from visiting 1:1 iPad deployment at Waverly-Shell Rock

Q1.  I’ve heard from your teachers… they feel that the classroom engagement is better since going 1:1.  What do you think, is that correct?
A.   Multiple students agreed…  When pushed more on the topic, many of them summarized it best by stating there are now more projects and less worksheets.

Q2.  So if you agree that having a device makes it more engaging…. can you give me some examples of tasks that your teachers ask you to do?
A.  To my surprise, several of the examples were from a math course (on some of our other 1:1 visits, we’ve heard from some individuals that math was more challenged at utilizing 1:1).  Students also shared basic research type projects, such as creating slide shows or videos on specific social studies or science content, as well as papers written for English courses.  When I asked about their favorite tasks – many responded that they enjoyed the multi-disciplinary projects where they get to choose how they demonstrate their knowledge. 

Q3. If you were the principal – and you could change anything about the 1:1 iPad roll out, what would you change?
Answers included…

a. We’d like to use our own Apple id with our devices, so that we can select our own apps and updates apps when needed  (from the discussions with some staff – it appears that many staff members would like this as well – however, the students are not 13 yrs old, which creates several limitations)

b. We’d like to be able to take the iPads home during breaks and over the summer.  However, school and district personnel have confirmed that the feedback from parents shows that families appreciated the school keeping the devices over winter break, spring break, etc.  From the parents view, this helps ensure that device is truly for school work and it helps lessen the concern over lost or stolen devices. 

c.  We’d like to use our own case.   Again, the school and district officials confirm that they planned and want it that way.  Standardizing the case ensures that all students are using a case that protects the device – and it helps ensure that everyone is on the level playing field.

d.  We’d like to have access to a case with a keyboard.   In one group of students, I had 5 out of 5 students who wanted a keyboard.  However, another member of our visiting team had another group of students who responded exactly the opposite.  As you would assume, it’s just a personal preference, and my guess is that adults worry about this more than students do.

Q4.  From your view, what are the benefits to having a device for each student?
A.  Answers included…

a. We don’t have to wait for the computer lab.  When something comes up and is of interest, we just grab our devices and look things up.  We can access anything needed on our own.

b. It’s mobile/portable.. Most students commented that they walk around with their iPad and a notebook and not much more.  

c. The ability to access their textbooks on the iPad, at school and at home.

d.  Many students commented that they were better organized, they don’t lose paper/projects like they did before.

Q5.  What things frustrate you about every student having a device?

a. Printing has been a challenge.

b.  The random checks    NOTE: this is when staff randomly check student iPads to check browser history and their photo collections.  

c. Problems with websites that use Flash and don’t work on the iPad

Written by Brian Abeling, @wdmtech

One thought on “My conversation with middle school students using 1:1 iPads at Waverly-Shell Rock

  1. Pingback: My notes from visiting 1:1 iPad deployment at Waverly-Shell Rock | West Des Moines Community Schools Technology

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