The World that Built #iPad - Surrendering or....

Source: http://goo.gl/ub7jc
"Personalization of the device is key to the success of implementation," shared one regional service center-based educator in Texas, "and people really embracing their use of it effectively." 


In Oregon, it all seems so counter-intuitive when you read remarks like "Because teachers already used iTunes, they could manage the iPads themselves." Manage the iPads themselves? The Ascended Ones--Technology Administrators, a.k.a. Ori--forbid!


While it seems obvious to many, the lesson may not be so to technology administrators. Essentially, if you deploy one iPad or more than one in your school district, you have to change the way you approach technology management. If you don't, you are in danger of...
  1. Wasting precious funding. That is, you will have deployed iPads that no one will get passionate about and use except superficially...a worse consequence is that people run out and buy their own devices and the school-purchased one goes un-used in the iPad cart.
  2. iPad management becomes a monster for the Technology Department. The consequence is that you end up trying to control what apps go on the iPad, micro-manage how the iPad is used.
  3. iTunes is blocked in the District and you can't easily download apps and content from iTunes while at work, instead having to cart iPad home to get the job done.
These three issues alone are enough to de-rail an iPad implementation, aren't they? If people aren't using the technology you so graciously provide them, wake up and smell the coffee!

After all, who wants to take on responsibility for an expensive piece of equipment that YOU clearly own because you won't let them install any apps on it that cost more than $0 and they can't access iTunes because it's a distraction during the work day from their real job (why are you providing an iPad in the first place if you believe this as an organization?).

Although I've made this argument before--locking down computers prevents people from making them their own, and if they don't do that, organizations won't get their money's worth out of the equipment--the point was driven home earlier when I read the following:
If you look at the two tablets that have succeeded — the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire — both Apple and Amazon have treated their tablets as simple screens connected to powerful sets of software and services. Amazon spent a year getting its services lined up before it even launched its tablet, and that turned out to be a brilliant move.... 
But, the real magic happens when you turn it on and sign in to your Amazon account — especially if you’ve already purchased content and worked with Amazon’s services. The device quickly populates with your books from Kindle, your apps from the Amazon App Store, your music from Amazon Music, your videos from Amazon Video, and your shopping information from the Amazon.com. At that point, it immediately feels like YOUR device.Source: Tech Republic's Tablets: What Amazon and Apple Know....
My reading of the article is that it all boils down to OWNERSHIP. When I am issued a device, I make it my own. I strip it down to the operating system, sometimes removing that and replacing it. That's what I do...but I'm a technologist who wants to know how things are put together. That's why I love using Linux and adding levels of functionality with new programs I add on. The rich ecology of Linux makes it difficult for me to consider other operating systems, especially when I know they are "free, open source" rather than proprietary. I've "bought into" that ecology of possibilities and I'm comfortable with what's NOT possible.
"People are jumping in left, right and center," he continued, "and what I’m finding is they’re great for some things, they’re a little limited in others, and it’s a different paradigm from using laptops. You can’t use them the same way, and I think that’s where a lot of people are jumping in and making a mistake." (Source: Converge Mag)
YOUR device, their world. It's not the device that's the issue, it's the ecology, the world of possibilities that the device gives you access to. This past Friday, while visiting with Kathy Schrock right before the start of her Infographics as Creative Assessment presentation in Northside ISD in San Antonio, Texas--thanks to Joyce Stevens, my counterpart there for inviting me--she asked, "What tablet would you get for your District?" This was an obvious reference to my complaining about iPads as inadequate chunks of proprietary computing power (it's nice to know someone reads my blog!).

From Right to Left: Kathy Schrock, Miguel Guhlin
Feel the power, Rick!
The answer to that question is tough. I'm tempted to say something aside from Apple's device for my own preferences, but I have to consider the rich ecology that Apple and peripherals builders have put together. It's far richer and more diverse than what any other tablet device has to offer at this time.  More importantly, I don't believe in locking down machines to protect the network...I believe in helping people use the network, the devices, and connect to the world in a way that is appropriate, responsible. As such, my response was predictable, even though *I* don't buy into the world that built iPad.

And, the unpredictability of iPad adoption...that's a problem, especially for Chief Technology Officers, Directors of Technology, Network Technicians holed up in their global monitoring caves--those rooms full of flat screens displaying complex graphs that represent a myriad of bandwidth utilization, server room temperatures, and more. The reason why is that for these people, the devices must be controlled, and the World is a scary place to be shut out by a complex array of firewalls, etc.

Apple's assault on the sensibilities of these techies leaves them bewildered and wondering why the heck this had to happen during their watch. Once you realize that it's NOT in Apple's best interest to help IT Departments manage iPads, you realize that Apple devices are their embassies in foreign lands (a.k.a. school districts, both department offices and campus classrooms). 
Image Adapted from http://goo.gl/NJj1w

The conversation often begins with creating an Apple ID for folks to use on school purchased iPads. It's an innocent conversation that starts with fiscal responsibility, control, but quickly deteriorates. What a stroke of genius for Apple to foster revolution with this one act of self-identification.
Looking for some advice from our iPad using gurus.  We are about to have a pilot for campus and district administrators who will be receiving an iPad2.  The BIG question we have is: should we require them to have a separate AppleID for their district owned iPad?  One concern is confidentiality of information that is stored to the iCloud, particularly if they use their personal AppleID as their iCloud login.  I've done some reading about have a main iCloud account and sub accounts, but it all is SO CONFUSING to me!  Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Is confidentiality really the primary concern here? Again, the iPad is a transport device...think Sliders TV show...the idea is to pick your ecology and then accept the tech that transports you into that reality. Making people use a separate Apple ID for work, and one for personal use means the device is not as usable...and can't fulfill the purpose it was designed for.







Responses to the query for advice above have provided insight into what people believe included this one, which I believe was particularly visionary:
We took the route of giving them the option to use their personal Apple ID.  I really didn't want them to have a work and a personal account.  My thinking was if they already had an Apple ID they were already using iTunes in their personal life.  I wanted the device to integrate into their life as much as possible, because I figured they would use it more and we would reap rewards from that. 
So we allow them to use the device for some personal use, but in order to allow that, we have them pay for all their own apps.  That way we don't lose the money used to purchase the app if they leave the district.  And if they have some great apps they already bought themselves, nobody has to repurchase them.  They can just sync them over and use them on this device as well.
See the power of the Apple ecology and vision? You may have known this already, but this is new for me. Remember, I don't want to be a part of the Apple ecology. I just want to have access to a great device that lets me do what I want to do. Still, you can see the evidence that the iPad has had on district technology people and how it's transforming their perspective.

Source: http://goo.gl/MoRvt
Simply, the iPad is such a low hanging fruit that anyone can use it. The benefits are so great that everyone wants to have this device (ok, I don't) that the technology folks who want to control, micromanage tech use are just swept along by the horde of ipad-wielding fanatics.

Ahem.

Other responses to the Apple ID question provide other approaches...but notice that when we deviate from what Apple designed, problems abound:
...we moved to having some administrative users buying their own iPad, facilitated with stipend funding. They buy their own apps (which can also be facilitated through stipend). They have one account, their own. I personally tried two accounts (out of confusion I was led to by Apple, not by design). It was a personal nightmare. Using SugarSync  instead of iCloud helped, but I would advise against two accounts. Mass deployment to front line staff will probably have to be different.
***
And we actually encouraged them to sync theirs at home, because of how iTunes functioned on our network, partially.  But now that all the new iPads sync to the cloud, that's not particularly an issue(syncing).
It does pose some complex questions.  I think personalization of the device is key to the success of implementation and people really embracing their use of it effectively.
***
Ours users all use a personal account, with the exception of one. We have an iPad in our Special Ed dept that they purchased a $180 app for. If they use personal accounts then the apps that are purchased belong to and go with the user if they leave. I couldn’t take a chance on an app that was that expensive leaving.
(I bet the app the comment above is referring to is Proloquo2go for Special Education).

The world that built iPad...it's a great responsibility for Apple. Are we sure we want to put our futures in the hands of a private corporation focused on taking our money? Well, it's too late. Cue the evil laughter.

The most telling remark is this one:
Most of us here believe Steve Jobs created a world where work and personal are less separate. Many companies now work that way. We are surrendering to the force on that and saying that there will be personal use (legal only) of center devices and center use of personal devices. We see it as inevitable. That is now the way the world works.
For my fellow free, open source software fanatics, keep up the good fight! Some day, we will have to free the world from...
  •  the techno-micro-managers who want everyone to march lock-step, using technology without ever making it their own.
  • the Apple fanatics who, like the Stargate Ori are out to convert the world to their vision or else.
Oh well, that's enough fun for one post.

Will we end up like this, fellow Linux users? Naa....
Features the Albino Penguin, symbol of GNU/Linux "Ori"
More like this:
Source: http://goo.gl/rGXHN


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Comments

Smaug said…
Hi Miguel,

I really enjoyed this post. As someone who fosters use of opensource technology in our area schools (makes the Microsoft fanboys quiver), I also tend towards enabling radical technologies on the campus in this manner. In doing so, I usually have to tread the fine line between the tendency of technology departments to attempt to control the end all within the campus, and complete freewheeling BYOD - which is what we practice at our education resource center. I encourage people to use our wifi, to which purpose is the posting of the wpa2 guest key in all our training rooms and halls. (We're required to encrypt our wifi by state fiat).

I was paid a great compliment by a school administrator once; this school is not a member of our cooperative, but was a participant in a distance learning project that we operated. This admin said that one of the best things about our project was that we (director and I(project admin)) did not dictate anything about how the system was to be used. This was a videoconferencing project that was supposed to provide for a tightly walled, 6 site expansion of an ongoing project. When the technology/transport mechanism that was the core of the project was raided by another company (who destroyed it in favor of their own inferior tech - I could write a book on that subject alone), I took the grant and twisted it to add 11 sites using yet a third (H.323) transport system.

In doing so, I had to circumvent a lot of things (heh heh) but ultimately our project network was operating with 22 sites (our cooperative was 16 schools at the time). I set up the systems manually, connected them via both IP & H.320/V.35 (another heh), trained teachers and school admins in their use, encouraged imagination in how to use the technology to the best benefit of the school (my primary purpose), arranged for video scheduling, and then mostly stood out of the way. This school administrator said that encouraged his district to form alliances and agreements with other schools and districts and led to a system in which schools took charge of using the tools, instead of the tools dictating their use.

That is one of my successes that I am very happy with; I generally remember my errors/mistakes much more vividly.
I think this is part of our industrial age upbringing; with resources scarce we are encouraged to do things 'properly' and discourage mistakes and errors. One of the purposes of 'play' and 'games' is to self instruct on what works and what doesn't; in my personal opinion, one of the needs our schools have is that spirit of experimentation that has been "reformed" out of the education system. I've watched science labs in our schools conducted step by step out of the book, and results that do not fit the book conclusions rated lower, simply because those results 'didn't fit.'

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