Family Sharing – An iPad Management Option to Consider


Struggling with managing purchases on more than one Apple device in your family? Confused by who owns what and which passwords apply where?  Then Family Sharing might just be the management tool for you!

“Family Sharing makes it easy for up to six people in your family to share each other’s iTunes and App Store purchases without sharing accounts. Pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending from a parent’s device. Share photos, a family calendar and more to help keep everyone connected. And with an Apple Music family membership, up to six people can get full access to Apple Music too.” (Taken from the Apple website)

Go here for more information:

It is really worth a look!

A Full Year of 1:1 iPads

Whilst we embarked on the 1:1 iPad journey in July of 2014, we have now come to the end of our first full year with 1:1 iPads in our classes. What an interesting, sometimes frustrating yet, exciting journey it has been. Along with our pupils we have learnt so much over the past year! The year started off on a somewhat shaky note with many network and wi-fi issues, but as the year progressed and the network was upgraded and our wi-fi was improved, so our iPad experience developed and grew in leaps and bounds.

The staff continued with regular professional development and training in our FaceTime sessions on Fridays. As they were exposed to new tools, especially with the implementation of the Google Apps For Education, so their confidence grew too. In creating and developing Deeper Learning Tasks the teachers were encouraged to focus on this catch phrase – “Used Effectively, or Simply Used?”, based on a presentation by Beth Holland that I attended at the iPad Summit held in Johannesburg in February. Their tasks had to take into account a model for teaching and learning called the SAMR model (Substitution – the most basic use of technology, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition – the most sophisticated use of technology). This model is used internationally to assist teachers in effectively infusing the use of technology in their lessons.They were also tasked with creating tasks that gave pupils a chance to make their learning visible. The teachers rose to the occasion and designed tasks of a high. The final step of the process is reflection, and the teachers spent time collaboratively reflecting on the tasks, looking at what worked and what needed improvement.

In July we returned to school and received the news that our internet had been totally upgraded. Fibre had arrived and we had a 100MB connection! No more slow internet! What a difference it has made. That, along with the implementation of Google Classroom, has had a huge effect on how the teachers view the use of technology in their classrooms. The ability to set tasks, assign them and have them submitted by the students for assessment via Google Classroom, has really been a wow moment for many of the teachers.

As a school we still stand by our statement that not all tasks are iPad tasks. Our pupils must still read real books, write or draw with pens and pencils and run around outside. However, in infusing technology into their classrooms we are striving to make their learning interesting, relevant and enhanced. Did we get it all right over the past year? Definitely not. We are constantly reflecting on our implementation and will continue to improve and tweak as we go along. However, we are on the right track and with the school’s move to a complete Apple platform, our pupils will be well prepared for what lies ahead in the High School. These are definitely exciting times!

Managing your Child’s Screen Time

Managing our children’s screen time and getting the balance right is an issue that many parents face. Today I came across a blog post about an app that might just be what parents are looking for to assist them in managing their children’s devices and to train their children to manage their screen time effectively.

Read OurPact Helps Parents Manage Their Child’s Device Use and take a look at the app in more detail here.

OurPact (Take note it is an iPhone app for iOS, but is also available on Android).


iOS 9 is coming in September!


What have we got to look forward to?

Well, firstly the good news is that the iPad 2 will still be supported by iOS9. That has added some extra lifespan to the iPad 2 which is good news for current iPad 2 owners. The good old iPad 2 might be slower than the new iPads (and missing a few features such as AirDrop), but there is still life in it!

For more information about more iOS 9 features, read this informative blog post by David Pogue:

iOS 9 Deep Plunge: The 57 Coolest Features

A Must-Read Blog for Teachers on an iPad Journey

Kristen Wideen, a Grade 2/3 teacher from Ontario, Canada, is a very creative and innovative educator who enjoys integrating technology, particularly iPads, in her daily teaching. Do yourself a favour and read some of her blog posts or, even better, follow her blog. She shares many lessons that she has done with her students and has some very interesting and practical ideas which can be scaled up or down, depending on the needs of your students.


Follow Kristen here too:

Twitter – @mrswideen

Pinterest –


An Update…

So, we are about 9 months into our 1:1 iPad initiative and we are on track! I have not posted here for a long time, but it was primarily due to the fact that I have had my hands full with the roll-out and teacher guidance and training. Our focus has been primarily to get our teachers comfortable with having these devices in their classrooms and to expose them to the possibilities that theses devices offer them to enhance learning and teaching in their classrooms. It has been a slow, but worthwhile process. We started off by requiring our teachers to follow an iTunesU course that I created. The focus of the course was an introduction to the iPad and then a broad introduction to various useful and most popular apps for learning and teaching – with a distinct focus on apps which could be used in a variety of ways and which are not subject specific. The idea is to get our students to create their own content and extend their creativity. Since then we have moved on to looking at how to use this technology effectively, not just for the sake of using it. We are exploring deeper learning and more effective ways in which to engage our students without focusing on the iPad, but by including it as one of the many tools available for teaching and learning in the classroom – albeit a potentially powerful tool. The secret to the success of a programme such as this is when the teachers start asking the right questions for themselves and don’t wait to be shown what the next steps are; when they feel confident to show initiative and try new ideas without prompting. This is slowly happening and it is an exciting time for us. Has it been an easy, plain-sailing journey? Definitely not, and our journey is long not over. There have been challenges, the least not being effective iPad management in the classroom. Some teachers found it more difficult than others to manage how and when the students were allowed to use their devices. Also, creating an effective workflow solution was a challenge, but we have a WebDAV server for iPad work and have recently ‘Gone Google’, so we will use Google Drive too. Helping our parents to help their children manage the number of games on their iPads has been one of our biggest challenges. We have asked our parents to restrict the number of games on the devices to 6 – 8 games only, as they provide an irresistable temptation for the children, and they take up a huge amount of space, especially on 16GB devices. We have tightened our rules around the playing of games at school and we insist that our students use their free time for play and socialising with one another. I read a lot of blogs where teachers share their iPad successes and challenges and I have connected with a number of teachers around the world who are using iPads in their classrooms with huge success. What I see and read excites me and confirms for me that what we are doing is the way to go. There is no turning back! FullSizeRender (4)

 A Grade 6 flipped classroom activity – watch a video and complete a Google form afterwards.


Our Tablet of Choice

As at July 2014 our Senior Primary School will be a 1:1 iPad school. This is not a decision that we have reached lightly, nor have we simply jumped on the iPad bandwagon. It is a decision that has been three years in the making and it has been taken after due consideration, research, discussion, consultation and deliberation. For us as a school this is the way forward. As mentioned in my previous post, it was of utmost importance for us as a school, to engage with our parents and share our journey with the iPads with them, and then of course, inform them of the path that we as a school have chosen as the way forward. This was of extreme importance too, since we are asking our parents to provide the devices for our students.

During October we held a series of three meetings at different times to accommodate as many parents as possible. During these meetings we shared the journey that we have been on for the past 18 months with our shared iPads in Grade 6. We showed them some student examples and also interviews with both the teachers and some of the students. All in all, the presentations were well received by our parents. In preparing for these talks, our principal and I made every effort to ensure that we would cover most, if not all, of the potential questions from parents and I believe that we did this very well. Questions about security, internet safety, which devices were suitable, financial implications for the parents etc. were covered in both our presentations, and of course, the answer to the question that many of our parents were interested in – Why iPads? This was well covered in the presentations, yet we still had one or two questions afterwards about why we were not going with the new Microsoft Surface tablet or why we were not going with Android devices. After a recent email from a parent about this very question, our principal, Arthur Preston, put together this very clear and concise response which explains exactly why we have decided on the iPad as our tablet of choice:

We decided on the iPad for the following reasons:

1)     Apple’s App Store is quality controlled whereas the Google Play store has only very recently begun a purge of inappropriate and poor quality apps but still lacks a formal approval process for apps.

2)     Malware and viruses are far more common on Android devices than Apple. According to a report released earlier this year 97% of malware and virus attacks on mobile devices were made on Android devices ( We obviously wish to keep our children safe and our network secure and believe that iOS devices are best placed for this.

 3)     The Apple operating system, iOS, is updated regularly and can be installed quickly and effectively. This means that developers are regularly updating their apps to take advantage of the latest operating system.

 4)     The battery life of an iPad will allow a fully-charged device to be used throughout the school day without charging. This makes it an ideal device for school use.

 5)     Apple has made a concerted effort to provide support for education. This includes teacher development, a specialised education section on the App Store and support for schools.

 6)     Providing IT support for many variants of Android devices makes it very difficult for both teachers and our IT department to support both teachers and pupils. By keeping to one device we are giving our teachers the best opportunity to become familiar with one operating system and one device’s settings and unique characteristics. A classroom filled with a variety of Android devices made by different manufacturers and running different versions of Android (including possibly watered down versions for simpler tablets) will not allow this and will possibly take up valuable learning time as the teacher ensures all pupils are able to access the same app or utilise the device as expected.

 7)     The new iPads with the A7 processor and retina-display provide a desktop quality computing experience in the children’s hands. No other mobile device currently available is able to offer this quality of experience. The new iLife and iWork suite of apps are head and shoulders above anything available for Android or other operating system.

 8)     While many other tablets on the market offer a good quality experience to the end-user, it is our belief that the iPad provides the best educational experience for school pupils. This belief is founded on the experience of many schools both inside and outside South Africa, our own research and input from well-respected educational technologists from various countries including South Africa.

 I own a Samsung Galaxy Tab and an iPad. Both are good devices, but there is no doubt in my mind that the best quality user experience and certainly the best option for my children at school is found on the iPad.

Arthur Preston – November 2013

In closing I leave you with a quote from Fraser Speirs (Shared on Twitter in September 2013):

“The iPad is not for schools that want to “use tablets”, it is for schools wanting to change the educational experience.”

Ready, steady… GO!


This year I have had the privilege of attending talks by some of the world’s best iPad “rock stars”, Abdul Chohan from the ESSA Academy in the UK, Sam Gliksman, Educational Technology Consultant and author of  of the book ‘iPads in Education for Dummies’, from the USA, and most recently I attended two iPad talks by, probably, THE iPad rock star, Fraser Speirs from the Cedars School of Excellence in Scotland. Fraser is the head of Computing and Technology at this school, which is the first school in the world to roll out a 1:1 iPad programme – just months after the first iPad 1’s hit the shelves.

Fraser spoke freely about how his school came to the decision to use iPads so soon after they were launched. Cedars had always been an Apple school. They had a computer centre filled with Apple Macs, but the need for a more mobile device which could be used in the classrooms led them to bring in Macbooks, which served them well for a number of years. One irritation was the short battery life of the laptops and the constant need to charge them during the school day. At the end of 2009 a discussion with the Cedars staff was held, where it was determined that a more mobile device, with a better battery life would make everyone’s lives easier. In February of 2010 the iPad 1 was launched – and the rest is history for the Cedars school! Read an in-depth account of their iPad journey on the Cedars School website here:

Fraser shared his experience of the first roll out, citing the difficulties and the successes. It was not without initial difficulties, the supply of a working wireless network being one of the hurdles, obviously due to working in unchartered waters, but he has made a success of it, and his school only uses iPads now. They have replaced all their computers and are now an iPad-only school. Also, they only very recently (in August of this year), replaced their iPad 1’s with the latest iPads!

According to Fraser the iPad has transformed teaching at his school. It allows learning to be more personalised and lends itself well to differentiation of learning styles. The teachers at Cedars have also noted that their students are “100% engaged all the time”. As has been mentioned by other tech leaders at iPad schools, Fraser also found that the hardest part of the implementation, was convincing the teachers to use the tech!

For Fraser and the staff at Cedars, the success of the iPad lies in the follow features:

* its size and light weight

* the screen size

* the mobility, and

* the game changer – the up to 10-hour battery life

I also attended Fraser’s very informative technical talk in which he detailed the more technical aspects of his school’s iPad roll out. He offered a variety of technical statistics, as well as statistics on iPad damage/loss at his school (2% per annum across the board) and bandwidth implications and usage. We in the audience were totally green with envy when he told us his school has a 50 Megabit ADSL connection, which he admitted was “more than they required”. Only in our dreams here in South Africa…

The audience was given an opportunity to ask questions and it was inevitable that the BYOD hot potato would rear its head. Suffice to say that Fraser is NOT a fan, and he gave some very good reasons why, the most pertinent of which was, the cost of technology integration which is usually carried by the IT department, is pushed down onto the staff in terms of multiple device management, knowledge of various devices and lesson preparation to cater for all devices. Hear more about his thoughts on BYOD here and take a look at his blog here.

In the 18 months that we have had a shared set of iPads at our school, we have, as a team, come to the conclusion that the best way forward with iPads is if each student has a device of their own. Sharing the devices has had its share of difficulties and hurdles. Sharing of devices certainly is possible, but it doesn’t lead to the devices being used to their full potential as a tool for enhancing (transforming) teaching and learning in the classroom. One of the biggest issues the teachers have had with sharing the devices is the length of time it takes to complete a project. Sharing 25 iPads between four classes required a booking system, which meant the teachers booked the iPads for lessons in which they were going to use them. As in most schools, the timetable is often disrupted and lost “iPad lessons” are difficult to reschedule when they are shared between four classes. This often resulted in projects stretching over a number of weeks, by which time they had lost their effectiveness and impetus. Also, time lost in collecting, unpacking and handing out the iPads before lessons and by the same token, taking them in again, replacing them in the baskets and returning them to the IT Centre after lessons, has an effect on the meaningfulness of the lessons. It is for reasons such as these and others, that after much debate, thought and consideration, we have decided to roll out a 1:1 iPad programme at our Senior Primary school. There is much to do before this can happen, the most important of which is the installation of a robust wireless network, which is nearing completion at present. It is also important for us to engage with our parents and in order to do so we set up a series of meetings with them to inform them of the road ahead, and lastly, but very importantly, we will embark on a teacher training programme for all our staff so that they are prepared for the roll out. Since June of this year all our teachers have had their own iPads which has given them the opportunity to get to know it as a personal device. We will now step it up a notch and take them on an “iPads in the classroom” journey. Let the learning begin!