Manifesting Our Fears in iPad Use

Horror Hunter Scary Game for iPad

Is your iPad horror app free? You know, safe for educational use only? Not featuring any personally owned apps?
By our nature, we...often say we are doing something for one reason, when deep inside we know the real reason is one that may not be acceptable to our institution. (Read the Source)
Earlier this week, I packed up the iPad2 that had sat unused on my desk and prepared to send it back to the person who'd issued it to me. I figured I could learn enough about iPads by watching my team play with their's...I had no interest in playing with a device that 1) Required iTunes to work well; 2) I doubted would easily be managed in a command-n-control network environment, which fits most schools that get iPads foisted upon them by happy consumer-educators; and 3) I couldn't make it "my own."

You cannot get the most out of an iPad without letting the student own it, and harness their personal accounts, tastes and media for some creative learning. Putting it in a lab…takes away from the iPad’s principle boon: it helps us move further away from the office metaphor of learning and into new, personalised, anytime anywhere learning metaphors.
Source: Ewan Mcintosh via GeekDad 
With a Nook, a Chrome CR-48 notebook, an Android phone, I figured I had enough to carry around. I like simple, single use tools...As a passenger wielding a Kindle on my plane trip from Nashville, TN said to me, "If I wanted to do something besides read, I'd get an iPad. I just want to read!" His point was well-taken...get the device that does the job and not one thing more. Simplicity?

As a free software advocate, I don't buy into the "It's the iTunes way or the highway." Give me the highway.

As I set up the iPad 2 today, an experiment in how far I could take a consumer device down the no cost route, I first setup my account to only use "free" apps. 

Follow instructions online...and Bryan P Doyle's advice below:Before you make the iTunes account, go into the App store.  Find a free app.  Click through like you would if you were to 'buy' (and download) the free app.  At that point it will prompt you for your iTunes account info, or all you to create a new one.  If you choose to create a new one, when you get to the payment section the 'none' radio button will be available. Then you can download all the free stuff that you want without buying anything.
Simply, with my work account, I didn't want to buy ANY of my own apps (really,why spend the money on apps on there?) on the machine. As I did this, I realized that this was part of my reluctance in using the iPad2...the device always belongs to Apple, and you have to play in their sandbox. But, worse, the device belongs to work...why would I want to make such a device my own? 

Update: Doug Johnson points out it may not be ethical to make school devices "one's own." Then, why would I want to do anything but the bare minimum with them? Far better to have a permissive policy that encourages people to acquire their own devices and bring them to school, work, etc.

The iPad was designed to be made into your own. Why should I subvert it's design?

Doug Johnson references this problem in his blog entry:

While we can set up a variety of profiles for different "classes" of users - administrators, elementary teachers, librarians, special education teachers, etc. - with its own set of software, users will NOT be able to download any personal software, music or other media to these devices from personal accounts.
What this means is that if an educator hopes to play a game of Angry Birds or listen to a little Metallica during prep time, it ain't gonna happen. Unless the curriculum director tells us that Angry Birds or "Ride the Lightening" is approved instructional support material. Granted, a good deal of personal use of iPads can be made via a web browser. It will be interesting to see if Netflix, Pandora or Kindle apps - that can access personal media - can be justified for educational use.

I asked a colleague, "What do you use on the iPad?" She immediately suggested Netflix. While I could see watching Netflix movies on an iPad, let's remember that it's a district-owned device. It SHOULD be used to facilitate instruction, impact education...not as a personal device. Yet, I know teachers--because they are so underpaid--often use school-issued equipment as their own. A colleague pointed out to me when I issued him a laptop, external CD reader/writer (this was over 10 years ago), "It's Christmas! I'm going to give my slow desktop to my kids and this will be what I use!" I couldn't blame him for doing that...I understood exactly where he was coming from. Can't we all?

But as new devices that allow school districts to lock them down, to restrict their use ONLY for educational use, we put people in the situation of trying to circumvent the "protections" put in place. Some places have sought to avoid this by helping employees buy their own equipment at discount prices...yet, these purchase programs that pretend to have lower prices for district employees are often shams. Simply, you get the same "low" price going through the vendor's web site.

The truth is inescapable--change is here. 
We are working at an architectural inflection point. The signals are all around us - cloud, big data, mobility, smart computing, etc. While each of these appears to be only modestly connected, I think together they signify a major shift in how business gets done and the architecture that supports it. If true, this means the tried and true ‘Business-Data-Applications-Technology' model architected and delivered by central IT  will not serve us much longer...The operating model realized from the new architecture will first diminish then extinguish centralized IT.

We continue stopping people from making technology their own, and they are pushed to ignore the school technology because it restricts them...and for no good reason. Worse, they know something is up. They know that they must labor under false restrictions that serve the needs of the technoliterati.

In some districts, there's a double-standard, isn't there? For example, does your superintendent get to load whatever software they want on their laptop computer, get to purchase whatever computer they want, even though they seldom use the horsepower on that machine like a classroom teacher trying to edit a video for an AVID program presentation to the media?

But as technology prices drop, schools can't stop people from showing up with their own equipment, their own network connections (e.g. Clear, Spring/AT&T/Verizon PC cards/USB dongles), and a simple expectation--free-range learning and technology use unencumbered by centralized IT.
System users may not connect non-District purchased technology equipment to the Electronic Communications System.  Personal laptops are permitted for use by all staff and students.  These personal laptops should only be connected to the District's public wireless network called DISTRICT WiFi. 
All users with personal wireless devices being used for instruction or other District business must use the District provided wireless network which is filtered according to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requirements.    
Personal wireless laptops are never to be plugged into the wired network.  They are only authorized for wireless connectivity on DISTRICT WiFi
District mobile devices are never to be connected to non-District  wireless services providers while on District property (e.g., MiFi, wireless cards, data cards, etc.)
As for the iPad2, I will explore it and use it, but will not "make it my own." Why waste my time? That would be like me taking ownership of a public restroom--although if we all did, wouldn't we have sparkling restrooms?--or assuming responsibility for something I'm not responsible for. If we truly want technology to be an appliance, then let's continue to put educators and students in the situation of providing them access to equipment they can't make their own.

Of course, this is an old debate. The only change is the technology we argue about. In the end, I'd rather pay for my own technology than get the school district's with all the strings attached...especially when I know there is a double-standard.

After all, we're only human. The fears and rules we put in place to prevent those fears from manifesting are often a worse consequence than what we might experience.

Perhaps, my perspective will change. After all, when you stare into the stares back.

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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


Unknown said…
good points. If we want teachers to use technology, we must allow them to make it "theirs". If not it will always be a separate, external, add-on to the curriculum
doug0077 said…
Hi Miguel,

I hope it is clear to your readers, it is for technical reasons, not policy reasons, that we are restricting "school only" apps on the iPad. . Our past practice with regular teachers computers has been to keep them open for teachers to put on them what they wish.

I am not convinced that personal use of school owned equipment is ethical - by teachers, tech directors or superintendents - unless there is some benefit to students because of it.

Interesting topic.

peter adams said…
You spent a lot of time lamenting your position as a teacher, but what about the students. Do you think that the same applies to them? They are even more restricted than the teachers in making school technology their own. That is why I am highly in favor of one to one computing for each student. Then they can make the machine their own. It is only then that technology will be able to be fully integrated with their learning.

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