Thursday, March 28, 2013

Android Tablets in the Classroom

We finally received our set of forty Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1" Android tablets!  This classroom set of tablets was purchased from Logical Choice months ago - unfortunately, they failed to notify us that they were on back order so we simply had to wait.  My plan is this:
  • A rolling cart with a full class set of devices, capable of connecting to the internet and the school network anywhere on campus
  • 6 teachers to integrate the technology directly into 6 different content areas
    • Math, Agriculture, Art, English, Social Sciences, and Foreign Language are all on board!
  • Troubleshooting the devices - how do we set them up so the students cannot destroy them?! Good question, I know.

My district IT Tech specialist quickly placed an "app locker" on all of the devices and I selected a pair of teachers to troubleshoot any potential issues over spring break. My instructions were simple, try to think like your students and see where you can get into trouble on the devices, taking notes along the way. We go to break tomorrow so I'm interested to see what they come up with upon our return.

I sent my teachers off with hacking directions and began tinkering myself last night. I immediately broke out of the app locker by uninstalling it through a number of menu commands, and had the open source Android OS at my mercy. At that point, I realized we needed something more; more robust and more educationally focused. Some quick research turned up one product called TabPilot.

I immediately hooked up with another Jarrett (I know, crazy right, even spelled the same as my name!) who turned out to be the president of the company.  We worked through setting up the systems and they provided me with a 10-device free Standard Edition of the app to tryout.  As it turns out, this is a great product that does exactly what I want it to.  It is relatively inexpensive for our set of 40 devices, so I'm pretty pleased thus far.  I simply need to convince IT that it is a better solution, and then of course, find the funding!

As note, I'll be blogging about my Android Tablets in our classrooms as we progress beyond setup, implementation, and eventually evidence of improved student learning. Feel free to follow along on this blog, or on Twitter under #AndroidsInClass.