iPads in Education: A Journey Beginning

iPads in Education: A Journey Beginning

May 9, 2010

The STEM Talent Expansion Programs (STEP) Office here acquired a set of iPads to lend to students, staff, and faculty for exploring uses that will enhance learning and teaching of science and mathematics.  We knew that we’d encounter management challenges, usage questions, and opportunities that might interest others, so we will share our experience in an academic spirit.  Please chime in with you own thoughts and questions using the ‘Comments’, below.


We purchased to sets of iPads, one as an education 10-pack and one as a set of five.  These pics show how they shipped differently.  While it would be nice to have cases for all the iPads, the iPads that came in the group of five were packed in the store-shelf boxes.  These can be used to store and protect those iPads as we lend them to people.  Those that shipped in the 10-pack have little in the way of protective casing, so we’re looking for a storage and transport solution for those.

InitializingWe initialized all the iPads from the same computer.  To do this, we created a new iTunes account.  Since we really don’t understand what it’s going to take to manage this stable of machines, we didn’t want to associate a credit card number with this iTunes account.  Not yet, anyway.  So we used this advice to create an account:


From there, it was just a matter of following our nose through the instructions.  Each iPad took only a little while to activate after being registered through iTunes.

Plan for working with Multiple Users

We have many questions about managing a set of iPads that will be shared among a large set of borrowers.  What do we do about the iPad that has an app that a borrower bought and installed for their use?  What do we do when a borrower purchased a month of 3G access for an iPad and returns it a week or two later?  When we find an app that we like, how can we install it on all the iPads?  How can we create a standard factory-like install image that we restore to after an iPad is returned?Currently, our answer to these questions goes like this:  “We don’t know the answer to that question, and we are learning as we go.  At this time, a borrower is responsible for any purchases made for use on a borrowed iPad.  When the iPad is returned, it will be restored to factory settings.  All content put on that iPad by the user will be lost.”

It feels like an extreme approach, but we don’t know how to put any nuances into play.

Experience So Far

We have loaned iPads out to fewer than ten people.  This is what we’ve learned so far.

  • people like the experience,
  • people are buying apps,
  • syncing an iTunes account to a new iPad installs purchased apps, books, etc. but does not install configurations
  • it looks like the 3G iPad has a SIM card that can be removed; this suggests a way to allow borrowers to purchase 3G service and return an iPad without the associated SIM card (but then we’d have to keep track of our SIM cards, too)

We’ve also run across this set of instructions for managing multiple iPods on a single computer.  Is it safe to assume that one could do the analogous things with a set of iPads?


A related Big Rock of a project is to find a way to author content for the iPads in a way that will allow faculty and staff to create and distribute course material, for example, via iPads and other mobile devices.  Stay tuned for what we learn on that adventure.
In the meantime, let us know if you have answers to any of our questions, or if you have questions that we might be able to help answer.

Posted via email from Creating Pathways to STEM degrees

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