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Tintin in Russia

Last week I had the privilege to present at an event organised at the Moscow Economic School, an IB-school that has an 1:1-iPad implementation. My good friend and fellow Apple Distinguished Educator Konstantin Biryukov invited me once more, two years after attending an event at his other school the Baumann Lyceum in Yoshkar-Ola. This time I was not the only foreign presenter. I was joined by Suzanne Lustenhouwer, ADE from Amsterdam, and Dan Egorov, IT Director from the International School of Azerbaijan.

What have I learned during this visit?

At both the schools Konstantin works, he implemented a “Genius Team”.  This is a team of about 10 highly skilled 16-18y old students who do lots of things. Among these are: giving tech support to other students and teachers, present at school events and provide workshops for teachers and other students. 

During the event I provided a workshop for teachers myself. Since not that many Russian teachers speak English, I had two Geniuses (Maria and Anastasia) who translated for me. These girls were amazing. Not only was their English impeccable, I also noticed their deep knowledge of the topic and presenting skills. We did 5 identical workshops. The 3th time, they were already saying in Russian what I was going to say, the 4th time they anticipated on the workflow, so the last time I could have let them do the workshop!

The other geniuses provided workshops during the event for other students at school on various topics from video editing to coding. During the closing ceremony of the event, they died presentations on what they and the students achieved during the day. I was again struck by the competence of the team members.

It was also very clear to me how technically skilled the members of the Genius Team are: they can help any user with almost any problem. Having these skills with a group of students is an amazing asset for your school. Not only can they speed up troubleshooting and problem solving during classes, they also reduce the burden on the IT team at school.  It also gives the members of the team responsibilities and boosts their self esteem.

When I talked to the team’s coaches, I found out they did thorough selections. Apparently there were many candidates to join the Genius Team. Applicants had to make a video explaining why they should be a member of the team. Each applicant was then scored and the best were selected.

To my opinion, this form of student participation at school is super valuable and exemplary for every school that wants to use technology as a learning tool.


images: Phil Zet

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Climate Change in Apple’s Ecosystem

One of the main reasons why we choose iPad in our school as a learning and teaching device is Apple’s ecosystem: impeccable hardware that runs its own superior operating system combined with an app environment that empowers users to be both productive and creative. Apple’s own productivity suite (with Pages, Keynote and Numbers), creative apps (with GarageBand, iMovie and Clips) and educational tools (your iBooks, iTunes U and Classroom) work seamlessly together with the hardware and os to create very rich learning experiences. Upon that layer third-party developers further enhance these opportunities with amazing apps and management possibilities through MDM.
This ecosystem seems to be a complete environment where learning and teaching can thrive. I am still convinced this to be true. Our experiences in our school show a flaw in this systems.
For me personally what binds the Apple ecosystem together is iCloud: it stores my files, photos and calendars, connects my personal devices and connects me with the world through Mail, iMessage and FaceTime. I use it professionally too, but it just doesn’t feel right. This discomfort has one big reason: Apple does not offer a true institution identity.

Identity is the key

Competing educational ecosystems like Google’s G Suite or Microsoft’s Office 365 do offer identity with domain e-mail, (video)chat and file and calendar sharing on an institution level.
Apple has got these tools and they are great, but they all have a personal feel to it. It’s even proven by the naming iCloud, iMessage, …
You can use it with others, but I don’t like to ask colleagues and students several times per day what their Apple ID is or to share their “Me”-contact card from their Contacts-app just to be able to FaceTime them or invite them to a shared Keynote.
Apple already did a great job with Apple School Manager so school admins can create identity for students and teachers, but these managed Apple IDs lack a lot of features people se desperately need in schools. At the top of this list is storage. 5GBs of not upgradable storage is totally insufficient: we want people to have an iCloud backup of their device (because it is really good) and we want rich media Multi-Touch Books (because they are really amazing), but it just can not be stored on 5GBs.
That is why in my school we still have to rely on other services like G Suite. By doing this, the Apple identity importance of our students and teachers shrinks to “that’s the account where you store your backup and the one you use on the App Store”. To my opinion, Apple urgently has to figure out what steps it wants to take to glue its educational ecosystem better together to create even better learning experiences than, we already have with using their amazing technology.

image credit:, Public Domain

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A Learning Device for Every Student – Part V – Ready? Go!

It has been very quiet in this blog series. There’s only one reason: deployment was a more than fulltime occupation. Time for writing was never more scarce. Today the big rush is over and I can find some time to reflect on the past few weeks.

Student preparation

As I mentioned in the previous post, students and their parents had to chose one of three scenarios: either they already own an iPad and let us supervise that device, either they buy one through a webshop from our partner or they lease a device from school. They also have the option to opt-in to our school insurance (with the exception of pre-existing devices). To gather all this information, I made a Google form. First big lesson: make sure people get an email with the content they filled in the form after they submit it. Second big lesson: set a clear deadline and remind people of that.
After all new students were enrolled in the school (all of our first graders are obviously new students), people made their choice and all had to make an appointment for our roll-out days. We made 1 hour time slots to chose from. We decided to organize the roll-out on two consecutive days right before the start of the new school year. Reminder: look back at the two big lessons from before.
Students with a previously owned iPad had some preparation to do: we notified them to offload all content from their iPad, disable iCloud on the device and erase all settings and content. Disabling iCloud before wiping the device is essential since you have to disable the activation lock from Find My iPad

Pre roll-out frenzy

We scheduled the roll-out at the end of August, two and three days before the school yea starts. This is a time most students are back from holiday and we have had some time o prepare.
July 30th, I assembled a list of all students that wanted to buy an iPad through the webshop of our Apple Solutions Expert. They sent e-mails with login information to the students.
As soon as all students were up to date in our Student Information System (SIS), I could create users in all necessary platforms: our MDM, our electronic learning environment (ELO), Office 365 and G Suite. Our MDM and ELO use a csv-import, the rest has a connection with our SIS through an Active Directory. The MDM connects to Apple School Manager to create classes and managed Apple IDs.
Next we created an envelope for every student that contains:
– Our schools code of conduct regarding iPad use at school
– A checklist with the preparation for non-lease devices
– A personalized agreement between the school and the parents
– A personalized document with the login for the MDM and the managed Apple ID

In detail these documents were:

Code of conduct

This is a document containing (among more) the following:
– we expect your iPad to be fully charged in the morning
– we expect you to know the account and password for your ELO login and Apple ID
– we expect you to use Touch ID
– we expect you to keep your iOS and apps up to date
– don’t install beta software
– we expect you to have an iCloud backup
– we expect you to have Find My iPad enabled
– we expect your iPad to be protected by a case that protects all corners and the screen


This checklist is only applicable to devices that have previously been used:
1 Create an iCloud backup (optional)
2 Log out of iCloud
3 Erase all content and settings
Parents sign a document that contains the following
– Lease contract (when applicable)
– Subscription to school insurance
– Agreement to Code of conduct

You can plan all you want but in the end you will not have thought about everything.

Roll—out Day

The morning of the first day, the lease device were delivered to the school and we could setup the roll-out. We had help from 8 colleagues to prepare all 550 envelopes and help with the roll-out. This “workforce” was invaluable.
We decided the roll-out proces into 4 stages:

Stage 1: Reception

Parents and students would arrive at their scheduled times an be given their envelope. Missing envelopes could be created on the spot.

Stage 2: Administration

The attendants would go in another room filled with tables and open their envelopes. They would read and sign the agreement and go through the checklist (if applicable).

Stage 3: Getting your device or handing in your device

In this stage the students who had chosen to lease a school device would hand in the lease agreement an receive their device together with a case. They also take home the box (it contains the cable and charger).
The students with an own device would hand the device over to an assistant . The assistant puts a number on the iPad with adhesive tape and gives the student a receipt with the same number. The iPad is then prepared with Apple Configurator. This program puts a school blueprint on the device that:
– Gives access to a Wifi network
– Puts the device in supervised mode
– Enrolls the device in our MDM server

Every student moves on to a next room. This room serves as a waiting room for the ones that handed in their iPad and a setup room for everyone.

Stage 4 : Setup

Everyone in this room gets a run-through on paper for configuring their iPad. Lease devices are in the Device Enrollment Program and are automatically enrolled in our MDM. Other devices are enrolled through Apple Configurator.
During the configuration students set up:
– Touch ID
– A passcode
– Connection with the MDM with their login credentials
– Their personal or managed Apple ID

What did we learn (the hard way)?

Wifi is essential! No device will get enrolled in your MDM if your Wifi is failing. Yes we encountered this on the first roll-out day. I still have nightmares …
Managed Apple IDs are not what you want to use on an occasion like this: too many students had to come an ask a teacher for a verification code. The teachers could give these, but this is very inconvenient when you are in a busy classroom with 40 other people configuring their iPad.
And last: you can plan all you want, you will forget stuff, either small or big. Just stay cool and do what it takes to get your job done.

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(R)evolution in Limburg. Visiting a Distinguished School

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Sint-Ursula School in Horn, Limburg, The Netherlands together with fellow Belgian and Dutch ADEs. This school has been awarded the title Apple Distinguished School recently and has a 4 year history of implementing iPad devices 1:1 to students.

The story of learning at Sint-Ursula

Not all students at Sint-Ursula are part of the 1:1-scheme; it is a choice they make. Very important to know is that being part of an “iPad class” does implement much more than just having a device on your desk during the lessons. The emphasis is not on the device but on the way the students are activated during the lessons; technology empowers the students to learn more self-paced and less teacher-driven.

Indicators for success

At the beginning of the 1:1-project, school leaders set goals to measure if the implementation of technology is beneficial for the students. These were the following:

  • Does the student show a positive attitude towards learning?
  • Does the student experience the use of the device as an added value to the learning process?
  • Are test results as good or better than those of their peers that are not part of the project?
  • Do teachers experience an added value?
  • Do parents experience an added value?

Ongoing challenges

In the first year the project had 27 students and 15 teachers. Today there are more than 250 students and more than 60 teachers involved. This puts some challenges in the spotlight:

  • Tech
  • Skills
  • Distractions

It’s obvious every IT implementation in any circumstances poses technology problems. Scaling up only enforces these
Teachers, coaches and students all need thorough technology training. Don’t forget TPACK!!

Professional learning

At Sint-Ursula iCoaches help teachers, students and parents with their questions regarding the iPad-project. This group of coaches consists of students and teachers. They are present at school, but also online.

Learning spaces

Where before all learning took place inside a classroom with desks and chairs in rows, this has changed dramatically, not only inside the classrooms, but also in corridors and the media library. The library has been turned into an open-all-day learning space where collaborative work as well as individual work in silence is promoted.

In corridors, individual tables and comfy sofas foster learning outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom, flexible seating and table positioning is applied.

Class visits

After the introduction by Mark van de Mortel, Team leader and Apple Distinguished Educator, we went on a tour in the school with class visits. Here are some takeaways:

Video Analysis in PE

In the gym hall, students were practising Shot Put. Students got their instruction from a slowmotion video explaining the technique. Four benches divided the hall and from the center, 4 students threw. All students were in pairs, so the one not throwing was filming the other one with an app called Motion Shot. This app makes analysing the movements very easy.

A Math classroom without students

Only the teacher was present in the classroom. His students were on a digital scavenger hunt using a service called seppo. The teacher made a math quiz on geometry with real-life geometry problems hidden around the school where students had to measure corners. On the students device is a map with hotspots indicating where to go and find the questions. All results where send to the teacher in real-time.

Language Escape Room

This was AWESOME! This teacher (I’m so sorry I forgot her name …) made a digital escape room in Google Drive by hiding passphrases in quizzes in a shared folder. In order to open all the documents, students needed to find all passphrases. Such a great idea and such a buzz in the classroom!

Role play video in English language class

Students created a menu for a restaurant in English and passed these around. In a next tasks, they had to write a scenario for a role play and record this conversation. All files where uploaded to a shared Google Drive folder for the teacher to grade the results.
This might seem like a daunting task (especially editing and sharing the video) but on the iPad, this is fairly easy.

From revolution to evolution

What I learned about this visit is that this school did take a very radical decision in their didactical thinking, but implemented this with a real long term vision. They set their goals and evaluate the project on a regular basis. Also very important is the scale of the project: they started small with only a selected and motivated team of teachers and students. Everyone in this 1:1-project has opted in. But there is a clear evolution towards a bigger part of the school being involved and already a critical mass has been achieved; next school year the project will grow even further.

Many thanks to Mark, Vivian and Robin for having us and a big thank you to all the teachers that opened up their classrooms for us today.

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A Learning Device For Every Student – Part IV – Roll-out scenarios

In this fourth part of this series, I’d like to talk about the technical side of the deployment. You will not need to ben a system engineer to read the following; I’ll try to keep it as comprehensible as possible.

Planning is key

When managing several hundred iPad devices, planning thoroughly is essential. I have the advantage of having experience in managing a small number of iPad devices for 5 years now. We deployed 20 iPads in 2011 in our school and added 25 to that 2 years ago. I used several scenarios to manage these, from manually installing everything on every device separately to over the air Mobile Device Management.
So very early in this project I decided that a MDM server in combination with Apple School Manager was the way to go.

Apple School Manager

In the past, Apple had two programs to facilitate deployments of mobile devices: the Volume Purchase Program (VPP) and the Device Enrollment Program (DEP).
VPP for Education is a separate kind of App Store where schools can buy apps and iBooks in bulk. Most items get a 50% reduction when you purchase 20 units or more. Licenses bought through VPP can be distributed on a managed base: no Apple ID on the device side is required.
DEP facilitates the activation of iOS and macOS devices: when purchasing these devices, you can point them towards your MDM server. After the unboxing, the device will activate and automatically enroll itself into your MDM server and optionally will be supervised. This supervision mode is essential for schools.
Recently, Apple incorporated VPP and DEP into Apple School Manager: one online portal where you handle both programs. Besides these, you can also assign Managed Apple IDs, curate iTunes U content and organize your users in classes, rosters, locations, …
For now, we will not be using Managed Apple IDs, but normal Apple IDs. Managed IDs don’t have App Store abilities and we want this kind of personalization on the device without having to have two separate IDs.

Mobile Device Management Server

I have tried and used several MDM Servers. All have their pro’s and cons. Two years ago, we decided to use Zuludesk for our school owned devices: it is a MDM tailored for education, with a fairly simple interface, great abilities for teachers and affordable.
Zuludesk connects to our Active Directory. It gets its users and groups from it. Groups will convert to classes. We have three types of users: teachers, students and administrators. The administrators are the Zuludesk admins. Students and teachers are assigned to classes. This will facilitate an app called Zuludesk Teacher and Apple Classroom where teachers can do stuff with the iPads that are in their classrooms.

The scenarios


All our teaching staff received an iPad just before Christmas break. How did we roll out these devices?

Get a partner

When deploying iPad in a education or business environment, you want to use DEP. In Belgium you can only order DEP devices at an Apple Solutions Expert. The company we chose is very supportive in our complete deployment planning and execution.
So in november we placed our order. Be attentive for delivery dates: you can’t expect to order 200 devices and get them the next day!
As soon as I got an order confirmation, I heade to the Apple School Manager website and assigned the complete order to our Zuludesk MDM.

Notify the users

To ensure a smooth roll-out, we asked our teachers to do the following:
1 Create an Apple ID (if they didn’t have one yet)
2 Pick a slot in our roll-out scheme; we needed groups of 30. I used a Google Form to make the appointments.

Preconfiguration in Zuludesk

Any MDM needs a DEP profile to configure the iPad on enrollment. I created a DEP profile I n Zuludesk that does the following:
– supervise the device
– add it to a group ‘teachers devices’
– name the device ‘iPad of %FullName%’ The parameter in between the percentage signs is fetched from the Zuludesk user database.
– Skip some of the configuration steps (the white screens when you activate the iPad)

Zuludesk already contains our VPP-app collection and all teachers. There is also a profile that contains settings for our school WiFi and a profile with web clips.
All devices assigned to a teacher will get some apps installed, the WiFi password and web clips.


All teachers in a roll-out session receive a brand new iPad. They unbox the device and start it up. We created an open WiFi in the roll-out area.
The teachers can do all of the setup. They just unbox the iPad and do the following:
– Start the device
– Choose their preferred language
– Pick their geo region
– Choose the open WiFi network
– Enable Location services (this is mandatory for school-owned devices and enforced by our Terms of Use)
– Log in with their Zuludesk credentials provided by the school
– Setup Touch ID and a passcode
– Log in with their Apple ID
– Enable or disable iCloud Drive and Keychain
The iPad is now ready. All required apps for school are installed automatically.


Students and their parents can choose from three scenarios:
1 They lease an iPad from school with a mandatory warranty
2 They buy a new iPad through a webshop from our reseller (with a discount and optional warranty)
3 They already own an iPad and use that device for school

In all scenarios, students need a personal Apple ID.

Lease and newly bought devices

These iPads follow the same scenario as the devices we provide for our teachers (with DEP enrolment procedure)

Personal existing devices

These devices are not part of DEP. As we require all student devices to be supervised, they need to be enrolled through Apple Configurator. These students get notified up front that they need to de the following before coming to school to complete the enrolment:
– Update to the most recent version of iOS
– Make an iCloud or iTunes backup
– Disable “Find my iPad”
– Disable their passcode
– Erase the device
The student comes to school on the roll-out day and we enrol the device in Zuludesk through Apple Configurator. The rest of the setup is similar to the other scenarios.

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A Learning Device For Every Student – Part III – Getting everyone on board

So we decided that 1:1 iPad was the way to go Read here how we made this decision.

Next step was the most important step to take: plan. What do you need to think of before you welcome students with iPad in your class? A lot!

Apple provides with a good framework to bring an iPad implementation to a good end. They call it ‘Eight Elements for Success’ and they’ve published it as a free resource on the iBookstore.

The book guides your team through essential questions you need to answer before and during your implementation.

Let’s discuss some of the elements.

Professional Learning

On the pedagogical side, it is quite obvious that staff needs to be trained in the use of iPad.

Before you train your staff, they need to get a device. We agreed that iPad is the best suitable solution for our students. We don’t agree that it is the best device for a teacher. There are some tasks where a teacher benefits more from using a desktop class computer. Nevertheless, we need to give each teachers an iPad: they need to build expertise in the use of it. To build this expertise, we created a PD program that started right after our Christmas break (teachers received their iPad just before the break). The program is not compulsory and consists of small lunch break sessions, workshops that last 90 minutes or three hours, walk in 1:1 training, a website with loads of inspiration, apps and other things.

These sessions include what we’ve called First Aid With iPad, a course for novice iPad users (yes, we have loads of them) with essential skills like personalising the device, camera use, getting to know the keyboard, accessibility features and much more. It also included SOS with iPad: What if it goes wrong?: a brief course on troubleshooting tech issues.

Much more important is pedagogical training: How do we design new learning activities with iPad? How do we create better learning experiences?

Thankfully great assistance is available. I’d like to give a big shout out to the team behind The Joy Of Professional Learning. They create amazing resources on providing the best professional learning. We also have loads of help from the ICT Atelier team in Belgium. These trainers are the best you can get.

Community (and communication) & Team

You need to get as much people that are ‘affected’ by the program involved as possible. That’s why we expanded our internal task force twice, informed the complete staff a month before we did the teacher roll-out and informed the students and parents half way through our preparation period.

It was surprising how little resistance we had. Personally, I was very anxious about the response we’d get from colleagues and especially parents. Some colleagues surprised me (in positive and other ways), but I was struck by the good reception we had from parents.

In our planning we decided that staring with the whole school was a little bit of a too big step. So we selected our first grade (12y olds) and fourth grade to be the pioneers in this project. The first graders are new students to our school. Last Sunday we started the enrolment for next school year during our Open School Day. Surprisingly all seats were filled after a few hours. I guess this means parents are backing our decision!

We also created a web page to inform anyone about our 1:1 initiative. You can read it here in Dutch. It includes a video of the event we did for our third grade parents and FAQs.

Environment Design

IT infrastructure. Yes, you might think it is boring, but it is essential. Don’t slim down on WiFi. You need it and you need a lot of bandwidth. Use Caching Server too.

But it is more than that: rethink classrooms and your school lay-out. Do we have need for rows of tables? A blackboard in front of the classroom? Do we want to project the iPad screens?

And then software: how do we manage the iPads? MDM is your friend! We chose Zuludesk to manage our devices. Apple provides with good guidelines on MDM to help you.

Student Learning

I cannot repeat it enough: it’s not about the device, it’s about the learning. How do we create a culture of learning, bring intrinsic motivation to students?

We don’t want forget this item, but for the moment it seems we are stuck in finding apps and ways to enhance our existing teaching strategies. It is imperative that our teaching activities evolve . We are already seeing great initiatives, so we are confident that this train is also starting to roll. But like any train, they don’t take a jump start.

Next time: planning the roll-out. Yes, my dear tech geeks: this one’s for you!!

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A Learning Device For Every Student – Part II, Scenarios

From vision to reality

In my last post, I already focused heavily on why we think every student should have a personal learning device. Read more about it here.
The very first step was figuring out how we would conduct the decision making of the project. Was this up to the school board of directors? What other voices should we here and get involved in this process? We decided to create a task force with school leaders, teachers and IT staff. In the first round of brainstorming sessions, we consulted every teacher. The task force at that time was a group of 9. Later it expanded to 22. The goal of this group was very clear: develop scenarios for a 1:1-scheme in our school. What are the possibilities? How do we bring this to a success?

It’s not about the device, it’s about the learning!

Didn’t I say that yet? Of course! And I can not emphasise it enough: we took this path to create a richer learning environment and facilitate better learning experiences.
In order to achieve this, technology should never be a limiting factor to the learning.


We set off by examining which different scenarios are possible.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device/Disaster)

If we want to encourage self paced learning, it seems appropriate we let every student decide for himself what device suits his learning process the best. Some students might prefer a more mobile device (e.g. tablet or “phablet”) while others would like to work on a notebook with a full-scale keyboard and powerful processor.
For this scenario to work, the school should set minimum specifications on the device or provide a list with device to choose from.
Although this scenario seems great, it has some serious downsides: even with a list of minimum specs, we would end up with a bunch of different device brands, device types and operating systems. In order to get this scenario to work, we need to expect that the student has a thorough understanding of the device but also our staff need to be able to perform first line of support when something goes wrong with the device. When in class, a tech bump should be fixed ASAP.
It is practically impossible to train your staff in all these configurations. When we only line up operating systems, we could easily reach five different mainstream systems (Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS, Android). And probably some geek will bring a sixth (Linux?)
And what if the device crashes? School can never provide with backup devices.

“Technology should never be a limiting factor to the learning.”

There are even bigger issues on the pedagogical side: teachers need to check if their preferred tool can be used on all the devices. In my opinion, this would quickly result in selecting only web based tools and never make any use of a camera since you would not know if every student has a device that carries a camera.
Maybe in other circumstances BYOD is a good way to go, but in education, I am convinced the abbreviation stands for Bring Your Own Disaster.

A notebook for every student

BEWARE: I will discuss Chromebooks, but in the next chapter. This one is about macOS or Windows notebooks.

If we want our students to be productive and creative learners, they should have a powerful computer with a full-scale keyboard. That was the opinion of a lot of teachers in our school and we know it is also the opinion for a big part of our students parents. Notebooks are very well equipped to author texts, create web pages, make presentations, etc.
But these devices carry some problems:
1. The durable and light ones are expensive (i.e. MacBook, Surface Laptop, …)
2. When teaching in front of a classroom, students sit behind a wall of screens. In order to have any sight on what students are doing on their devices, you need to stand in the back of the classroom. These screen walls also don’t invite to collaborate.
3. All day battery life comes at a price.
4. Notebooks are not very mobile. Preferably you put them on a table or on your lap. These are device to be used only sitting.

Chromebook, the modern typewriter

See, I told you I would discuss these.
Chromebooks seem a good solution: they are cheap, easy to manage and they work seamlessly with G Suite.
So why not? There are some issues, both technically and pedagogically.
When WiFi is down (yes, this happens), a Chromebook is almost useless. These devices rely on a network connection for almost anything. Of course you can sync Drive files for offline use, but you should enable this before you get in a no-WiFi zone. In our school, no-WiFi zones don’t exist except for when the whole campus becomes a no-WiFi zone.
They also have the screen problem a notebook has. We don’t want walls inside our classrooms.
You might know that I am a big fan of the SAMR-model. It helps teachers to evaluate if their tasks that involve the use of technology are worth the effort of using the tech. I cannot help but find that with Chromebooks (and any other notebook), it is more difficult to develop learning activities that locate themselves in the M and R regions. Read more about the SAMR-model here
Very recently I read this article by the amazing Brian Foutty where he focuses on pedagogical issues and even on the deceiving price tag of Chromebooks.
This brings me to our conclusion

Best of both worlds

So we chose iPad. Why?
There were a lot of reasons why we took this path. Here are some of them:

It’s about the learning, not the device

Apple’s iPad and the ecosystem around it with the App Store, iTunes U, iBooks and Apple’s apps to enable both creativity and productivity has no match on the market. Hardware and software pose almost no limit on the learning opportunities of our students. The stuff just works so you don’t need to bother about drivers, updates and system crashes. Just focus on the learning.
Third party apps (including our school’s electronic learning environment and G Suite) provide all other necessary tools. Students can also easily install their preferred educational apps and content.


Not only is iPad a lightweight device, it is also a true mobile device you can take anywhere. Excursions, the sporting grounds, on public transport. Quickly changing classes or a classroom setup is no issue. With iPad, you can take away the constant sitting from the learning process.

Total cost of ownership

Agreed, iPad is not the cheapest device to purchase, but you buy quality that lasts. An iPad can be used several years (I still use a device that is almost 6 years old). All of Apple’s productivity and creativity apps are included in the price too.

Support and management

Mobile Device Management provides with all the tools IT administration needs to facilitate a smooth user experience. It enables easy deployment and daily management like installing apps and profiles.
Teachers also benefit from this: they can grant students access to apps they don’t have, and when needed, they can disable or reenable features and apps on the device.
When all students have the same device, IT support becomes manageable too: when a device fails, it can be replaced instantly and the learning process is only interrupted briefly.

Battery life

We don’t want power cords in our classrooms. With iPad, you don’t need them: a device will last a full day on a charge.

These were only five of the reasons why we chose iPad as a learning tool for our students.
In the next post, I will discuss how we plan to get this 1:1-scheme on the road.


image credit: – license: CC0

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A Learning Device for Every Student? – Part I

Start with why

My school has always been a pioneer when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. Previous school leaders envisioned that technology brings major assistance to the instructional activities of teachers and the learning process of the students. So every classroom used to have overhead projectors, we have had laptop carts, iPad devices, Android tablets, computer labs, LCD projectors and interactive whiteboards, heavy integration of an ELO. You name it, we explored its use in our classrooms.

More recently we have reached a tipping point. The learning process and student and professional life of our staff and students became more and more digital and online. We live in a connected world where we have almost 24/7 access to knowledge, peers and experts near and far. Not bringing this 21st century reality into our school would put us in a parallel universe. If we want to make sure the years a student spends in our school is worth the time and effort, we can not put ourselves in that parallel universe and we need to prepare them for the real world.

How might we achieve this?

That’s a question that has been puzzling me in the last 5 years as technology advisor and administrator.
Do we need more technology? Can we do this with the infrastructure we already have?
I do not want technology for the technology. Any device is an investment and needs constant renewing: no other environment changes at the pace IT changes.

We concluded very quickly we do need more tech in our school: in 2010 we had a computer/student ratio of about 15:1. By 2015 we lowered this to about 5:1. Getting access to a computer requires making reservations of either a whole computer lab or a number of tablets.

It’s not about the device, it’s about the learning!

If we want to create learning opportunities anywhere and anytime, we also need access to the tools that support these learning activities anywhere and anytime. Conclusion: we need to bring the 5:1 ratio down to 1:1.

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