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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Proposed Mansfield ISD high school iPad initiative Q&A

Updated Wednesday, May 23: At the May 22 Regular Board meeting, the MISD School Board approved the recommendation as made by the Superintendent for awarding the quote to procure devices, equipment, and services needed to initiate an Apple iPad2 1:1 program at all MISD high schools. 

We have proposed starting a 1:1 program that would place over 10,600 iPad2 devices in high school for students and teachers this fall. The Mansfield ISD School Board is considering this proposal and will likely vote on the proposal at the Tuesday, May 22 Regular Meeting.

Presentations about the iPad proposal were made at the March and April School Board meetings along with during the Called Meeting on Tuesday, May 15. 

We want to continue to build on our commitment to provide innovative educational opportunities and we believe this 1 to 1 program is another way we can help increase student engagement.

The School Board has asked that their questions along with the administrative answers be provided here on the District blog so that the community can view the main issues and thoughts on the initiative.
Mansfield ISD 1:1 iPad Inititiative Proposal 
Board Members’ Questions
Updated May 16, 2012

Mr. Raul Gonzalez
1. If kids forget their iPad or it’s dead, what will you do?
If kids forget theirs, we will have classroom sets of textbooks that the students will be able to use. Teachers can also be innovative and allow students to share an iPad with another student. If it is dead, we will have charging cords.

2. Will there be enough bandwidth?
The number of access points that will be installed as part of the bond this summer meets the specifications outlined in the Apple deployment guide. That work will be completed by July 26, 2012. To prepare for the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) implementation that had been planned previously, increases to bandwidth are planned that will more than double the district’s capacity. These bandwidth upgrades are also scheduled for completion during the month of July.

3. Have we thought about doing this at middle schools?
We discussed having it at middle schools, but we think that if we allow them to use this technology as 8th graders and then do not have it for them as 9th graders, it would be detrimental. We feel it is better to start at the top and work our way down the grade levels.

Mrs. Beth Light
1. Number of textbooks currently available or that will be available in the fall.
McGraw Hill has committed to a minimum of at least five textbooks by the beginning of the school year. Other publishers are developing textbooks for release, too; they have not announced the quantity of titles and subjects of books that they plan to release for August.

2. Have we considered starting with the upper grade levels only?
There are not age-specific classes at the high school. Depending on the class, freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors could be in the same section.

3. One other question, if we decided to pursue the iPads, would we continue investigating the BYOD policy?
Yes. Whether devices belong to MISD or to students, implementation of a BYOD policy is recommended. The iPad 1:1 proposal is targeted at the high schools, so many of the advantages to having a BYOD policy would involve grades K-8. Providing the teachers and kids with some guidelines for bringing those devices to school and using them appropriately would be a good update to the handbook.

4. When you say 5 textbooks, does that mean 5 per grade level and what content?
McGraw Hill expects to release five books this fall at the high school level. McGraw Hill and other publishers have not released information about specific content areas in order to maintain an advantage against their competitors. These titles are available now:

McGraw Hill
  • Algebra I 
  • Biology 
  • Chemistry 
  • Geometry 
  • Physics 
  • Algebra I 
  • Biology 
  • Environmental Science 
  • Geometry 

5. Most of the publishers today have digital versions of their textbooks, but it is my understanding these are not interactive, basically just an online version of the textbook. The new electronic books that are being developed in conjunction with Apple are interactive books. Is this correct? Will the current digital textbooks that are not interactive work on the iPads? And, will the new interactive electronic textbooks work only on the iPad?
The electronic versions of textbooks being developed in conjunction with Apple feature interactive elements such as those demonstrated during the February board meeting. Online versions are available for a number of texts that are currently adopted. Books that are written using Adobe Flash, a multimedia platform used on some websites for animation, are not compatible with iPads. The new iBooks are compatible only with the iPad.

If the board moves forward with this project, the district will develop a virtual lab with up to 600 virtual PCs that high school students can access using the same VMWare app that is installed on board members’ iPads. Any materials that use Flash can be accessed in this way over the Internet. Licensing for VMWare is based on the number of users who access it simultaneously, which is why a lab with 600 seats is projected to meet students’ needs.

Mrs. Sandra Vatthauer

1. Can Frontier HS students run the specialized software used in FHS programs on iPads? (This question was asked at the board meeting.)
The laptops at FHS were not configured to run the high end applications in use there. The cost of increasing system resources on the MacBooks to do this was prohibitive. There are computer labs at FHS where students use high-end software such as AutoCAD, AutoDesk Inventor, and Multisim. The district is in the process of exploring creation of a virtual lab that students could access using their iPads, which would add all of the function of a high-end desktop computer to those devices.

2. Will kids be able to access Fast ForWord on iPads?
Technically, the iPad can be used to access Fast ForWord. At this stage, we’re not ready to incorporate the iPad with Fast ForWord instruction.

3. If we allow kids to bring their own ipad3 will they be able to download any of our purchased apps that we put on our ipad2s?
Yes. The redemption code for the app works with a student’s personal iTunes account.

4. Haven't we piloted the use of ipads at one of our schools? If so, which was it?
A 1:1 pilot utilizing the iPad2 began at Summit High School on Monday, April 16, 2012.
[Related Mansfield News-Mirror article about the Summit pilot program.]

5. Is there any way to utilize these devices to combat summer drain in the low income areas of our district?
We have not discussed that at this point. Due to the requirements of accelerated instruction for STAAR EOC testing, summer school will have to look dramatically different in the very near future.

6. How do we incorporate our textbook committee into the use of the textbook software?
As part of the current textbook adoption process, a committee reviews materials and makes a recommendation for adoption. There is no textbook adoption scheduled for this year. If the district moves forward with this project, the textbook committee will play a role similar to this.

7. How long will the iPad2 be available for purchase?
Apple has not made an announcement about how long the iPad2 will remain available for purchase.

8. Do we need to purchase additional devices for our anticipated growth and replacement of damaged devices? If so how many?
The proposal includes 120 iPad2 devices (100 for students and 20 for teachers) that will remain in the district to replace iPad2s that are damaged and sent away for repair. This quantity is based on Apple’s recommendations given our growth rate and the need for replacements. Growth in the high schools is protected to be .9% in 2012-2013.

9. What is the cost of AppleCare?
The standard cost of AppleCare Plus is $99 per device. By purchasing 10 packs of iPad2s, the cost is reduced to $79 per device. This cost is included in the proposal. Fees for repairs and related expenses include $50 per student, $25 for students who qualify for reduced lunches, and $10 for students who qualify for free lunches.

Dr. Michael Evans

1. Are we going order the same amount of books for the 2012-2013 school year? If the answer is in the affirmative, does that mean we’ll actually add to our text book expenditures (iPads + Textbooks = Additional Funds).
Expenditures on paper textbooks will be reduced by $600,000, which will be redirected to make this purchase.

2. Have we formulated in "Laymen's" language the advantages of purchasing the iPads for 2012-2013 vs. delaying the purchases until the next biennium?
New textbook adoptions will continue. Within 1-2 years, it will be time to begin replacing computers at the high schools. By changing course now, the district can invest in more engaging resources that can be kept up to date more easily while providing students with much greater access to technology than traditional labs.

The use of iPads in MISD schools may contribute to increased enrollment.

Mr. Raul Gonzalez

1. Have we seen any studies which compare the test scores of students using a textbook in digital and traditional book formats?
Yes, Abilene Christian University has conducted a series of studies about the impact of iPad use on student achievement. Summaries of these studies are listed on their website. I’ve copied one of the passages from the ACU site below:

Several newly released studies show students used the iPad more frequently and with better results when compared to paper-only text. One comparison study by Dr. Ian Shepherd and Dr. Brent Reeves in an undergraduate micro-economics class demonstrates increased engagement and frequency of access compared to a student using a laptop to access BlackBoard, a course management platform. Another study led by Dr. Bob McKelvain examined student annotation practices and found favorable results by students using iPad to annotate. Ryan Gertner, an ACU graduate student, compared use of iPad in demonstrations of higher order learning and showed iPad provided a higher rate of transfer learning in comparison samples in an undergraduate Psychology course.

For more information, please visit

2. How will the applications of updates be handled for each unit?
Updates to the devices are handled using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) server. Through an MDM server, students receive a link that they use to update their devices over wireless. If updates are not completed, an MDM server can be set up to send a notification to the district so that the student can be prompted to complete the process or guided through it if needed. To manage the 500 mobile devices that the district currently owns, Technology Development has already submitted an MDM solution in its additional requests for infrastructure improvements for the 2012-2013 school year.

3. Have we looked at the Kindle, which is smaller and fits in hand, cheaper, runs flash, weighs less and loads websites faster?
Yes. Unfortunately, Amazon does not accept purchase orders. A credit card has to be registered with each device in order to pay for content.

4. Will the district create accounts for each user to download the textbooks and updates?
Textbooks are loaded onto iPads using a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system in conjunction with students’ iTunes accounts. When the purchase of an app or iBook is required, the district purchases a code for each student through the Apple Volume Purchase Program (VPP). These codes are distributed to the students using an MDM, and the students then download the iBooks or apps using their iTunes accounts.

5. Also, what is the license fee associated with these textbooks? Is this a one-time fee or must this be renewed each year?
The license structure for different products varies. The district already owns some apps, electronic books, and other resources for many subjects through earlier textbook adoptions. The most that a district can pay for an iBook is $14.99. Some e-books may cost less than $5, and we may have the ability to download only certain chapters of the book. The codes for iBooks and apps can be used once and are considered consumable.

6. Do we currently have the record keystrokes (specifically how a computer/laptop is used)? If so, do we have percentage of appropriate use vs off task use of the laptops during a traditional school day?

Filtering software collects information about the sites that students access. Whether a use is off-task or appropriate depends on the time of day, the student’s schedule, and the teacher’s instructions. If a student attempts to access an inappropriate site, a notification is generated and the filtering software blocks the viewing of that site.

7. What issues have we encountered with the issuance of laptops at Frontier High School? Is the filter working?
At Frontier High School, the primary challenges we’ve encountered include accidental damage by students and the workload involved in processing insurance claims. The original version of AppleCare does not cover accidental damage. Under AppleCare Plus, two instances of accidental damage are covered with a $49 deductible per instance.

The filter functions at school and on mobile devices (iPads, laptops, etc.) when they are away from school. New methods for evading the filter are developed and new URLs for inappropriate sites are added to the Internet daily, as are countermeasures designed to address them.

8. Can the our network infrastructure handle 3-1 personal technology when students have a laptop / tablet / Nook or Kindle / phone / iPod / game device / etc?
The district’s wireless capacity at the high schools is designed to handle 35-40 devices in each classroom. The wireless network is divided into two segments (E-Staff and E-Student) for instructional/administrative purposes and another one (Guest) for personal devices. As part of the wireless upgrades planned this summer, a system will be installed that can be used to ensure that iPads and other district-issued devices can access the E-Staff and E-Student networks. The bulk of the district’s bandwidth will be allocated to the E-Staff and E-Student networks. Other devices at the high schools will be relegated to the Guest/BYOD network, the bandwidth for which will be “throttled back” in order to provide more bandwidth for E-Staff and E-Student. This is a solution that has worked well in other districts.

9. If approved, will faculty have the opportunity to pick up an iPad prior to the end of school or during a designated window during the summer?
We’ve been exploring what would be involved in making the iPads available to teachers over the summer. The earliest date that the board may consider approval of the project is May 22. Orders will be placed as soon as possible after that date. I do not project that the orders will have been received prior to the end of school. I’ve asked for an estimate from Apple about how long it will take to get the 500 teacher iPads ready for distribution over the summer.

The district has a variety of devices and media for different purposes. For use in a 1:1 pilot, observations in other districts and our own testing indicate that the iPad2 is the most versatile of these tools. Apple also has the greatest number of educational apps available (over 20,000) and a model for deploying this content that is feasible for an enterprise of the district's size.

10. Why sole source platform?
The new interactive media developed by Apple and the major textbook publishers runs natively on the iPad2. The EPUB and .pdf versions of texts provided through many of the district's current adoptions also work on that device.

11. How easy to transition platforms / content or are you locked in?
To prevent the district from being locked into a given platform, solutions have been developed so that media in many formats can be accessed. Resources available in Flash can be accessed through a free app coupled with a virtual desktop. The district's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, which is scheduled for expansion this summer, also provides access to Windows 7, Internet Explorer, and the Microsoft Office Suite.

If this initiative moves forward, we’re committed to continuing to monitor the marketplace to make sure that our students and teachers get the best return on technology investments.

Mr. Terry Moore

1. Has a comparison been made of an iPad versus Windows based tablet been performed and what was the result of that?
The textbook publishers have produced iBooks with interactive media for iPads. The proposed iPad project includes Windows functionality using VMWare virtual desktops. Having this virtual lab available means that students will also be able to access sites and materials available through the district’s current adoptions.

2. Do updates to the textbooks that will be loaded onto the tablets have a cost? Per update? Annually?
Updates to textbooks do not have an associated cost. New versions of textbooks will need to be acquired as they are adopted. The cost for the interactive iBooks available through the AppStore is capped at $14.99. Many electronic resources are available at no cost through the district’s current adoptions.

3. How do you download external documents onto the iPad?
Documents can be accessed on the iPad using iCloud, email, and/or apps such as GoodReader.

4. How does our installed base of computers work with the iPad?
Files can be passed to and from iPads to PCs using tools such as email and cloud-based storage.

5. What do we do when a unit doesn’t work, during school, after school?
When a unit does not work, the student or teacher turns it in for service and checks out a spare iPad2. The cost for spares is included in the proposal. Problems that occur after hours can be addressed the following day at school.

6. What about batteries? How do we charge the device while the students are at school?
Students will charge their devices at home in the same way that they charge their cell phones. There are also outlets in the classrooms that students may use.

7. How are we going to handle integration of curriculum when our teachers start to write it?
Teachers have written the curriculum. The district will follow the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.

8. As an early adopter, do we have projections of what revenue we may see from exporting our books?
No revenue is projected from textbook sales due to the quantity of free materials available to districts online and through their existing adoptions.

9. Please verify that we will still have textbooks initially, and for what estimated period of time?
As new adoptions come up, electronic textbooks will be adopted. Existing textbook adoptions will continue to be used. Many of these existing textbook adoptions have electronic materials that students can use at no additional cost.

10. Why wouldn’t all textbooks be available for the iPad?
Major publishers are developing new titles in the new interactive iBook format. Many of the textbooks that are currently adopted by the district have electronic resources that are accessible using the iPad.

11. How will this implementation affect our ESL students?
ELL learners have been using iPod Touch devices for nearly three years in Mansfield ISD. Because the iPad uses the same operating system, apps used with iPod Touch devices can be used with iPads, too. The following list includes some of the apps that have been used by ELL students in MISD:
  • Audio Memos
  • Dragon Dictation
  • Brain POP
  • Speaking Pal – English Tutor
  • Google Translate
  • FlashCardlet
  • Speaking Pal Plus
  • Fraction Basics
  • Word Web Dictionary
  • Merriam Webster Dictionary
  • Merriam Webster Learner’s Dictionary
  • Picture Writer
  • iBooks
  • Science 360
  • Puppet Pals
  • Math Tour
  • Educreations Interactive Whiteboard
  • Kids Find & Learn
  • Learn English Kids
  • TED
  • NASA and NASA TV
  • Google Earth