Taunton Academy ipods and ipads - Somerset Learning Platform


Taunton Academy ipods and ipads - Somerset Learning Platform


During the course of 2010/2011 Taunton Academy introduced Apple ipods and ipads into the school. This paper is

the result of an interview with Dean Whitaker, ICT Coordinator (May 2011), eight months after the introduction of the


The overall project had been a success with greater motivation and involvement in the learning process by students.

There had been many positives in the process with students completing ad hoc web searches, access to materials for

MfL, access to YouTube videos, access to interactive diaries, access to podcasts and the use of many different


The project was a long term exploration and was still developing. There was a well thought out strategic plan which

included clear goals and training issues.

Listed below are not barriers to the introduction of such a scheme but considerations that schools should ask.

The views expressed in this document are those of the Education Technology Adviser and are not the schools.


600 ipods were purchased and distributed to year 9, 10 and 11 students and staff. 60 ipads were also purchased and

used as two class sets.

The schools wireless connectivity was surveyed and developed so that it covered the whole school (it is a split site

school). There were cost implications in making sure that this was reliable with the solution provided by a company

that had expertise and a proven record of wireless in the school.

Another consideration was the schools Internet connection which when the project began was 10Mb and was not

sufficient. In effect the school was adding 600 new computers to the network and this used all the available

bandwidth. The lack of bandwidth slowed the project down and in hindsight there should have been a coordinated

approach to the distribution of the devices and the development of the internet connection.

Originally to access the network proxy settings were set on each device but as the project progressed this was

changed to allow devices to automatically log in using a transparent proxy connected to the schools filtered provision.

Part of the agreement with the students was that the ipods would be charged at home. The ipods are quite good at

keeping their charge (depending on which apps they used) this meant that there was little need to power them at

school. However in the future there were plans for charging points to be installed. The possibility of charging them

from USB cable was not explored as this would mean synchronising on a variety of machines potentially downloading

music and apps.

There was a class set of spare ipods. The ipads, which were not taken home by the students, had to be charged and

the school were using a propriety solution that was available for £1000 for 20 devices adding to the overall costs.


The students were provided with their ipods after parents consultation which explained the terms of their use. There

was a deposit of £10 which was an ‘insurance’ payment and allowed the students to take the ipod home. This

‘insurance’ was a pot of money that the school kept to replace lost or stolen ipods. Families could only call on this

‘insurance’ once a year. Remaining the property of the school and marked with the school logo students were

associated with the serial number of the device. This ‘insurance’ money did not cover headphones.

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Students were expected to set up their own itunes account with the devices being left open and able to download

apps, photos or music. The ipads were set up under one account.

The ability to connect to a home wireless system was enabled with the responsibility for this being the parents. The

age restriction on the ipod settings were set.

Students were expected to charge and synchronise the ipods at home and bring them to school in a working state.

There were instances where the updating of apps in class hindered the progress of lessons.

At the end of the academic year the ipods would be collected in and the £10 returned (as long as a claim had not been

made). The same ipod identified by serial number would be re-issued at the beginning of the next year with the

submission of another £10. On leaving Year 11 students had the opportunity to buy the ipod at the price of £90.

There had been 13 ‘claims’ for lost or stolen devices. 2 had appeared in shops in Taunton. Only one device had been

‘Jailbroken’ – this was treated as malicious damage to school property and was dealt with outside of the ‘insurance’



The 60 ipads were mainly used in the year 7 and 8 themed curriculum lessons. Examples of successful use were in

gaining access to BBC News, BBC iplayer and in using apps for Spanish. Because of the need to allocate the ipods to

individually students which utilised personalised accounts a decision had been made to only use free apps.

The students were only allowed to take ipods from bags or pockets when instructed by the member of staff.

The students’ ipods were successfully used in as variety of ways. Some apps were used in specific subject lessons.

Students could complete quick research through Google or Wikipedia or access instructional YouTube videos (allowed

on the school filter). Practical subjects had uploaded homemade videos onto YouTube for this purpose. They could

also be used to download and play educational podcasts.

The ipods were also used to record homework’s and other dates in the calendar. Many staff allowed the students to

listen to music while working.


The lack of Flash has prevented the devices being used for some resources that the school had licenses for such as

Boardworks. The school was in negotiation with the company to address this issue.

The size of the screen on the ipods also presented difficulties especially when accessing some websites

Not being able to log into the school network prevented students being able to store and then transfer files. Solutions

to this included students emailing the necessary files to themselves or to staff.

Not being able to print work was also an issue although solutions to this were being sought.

In many ways the use of the ipod and ipad did not replace the computers and there needed to be a different mindset

to be able to utilise the qualities of these devices.


The initial use of the ipods had proved a success and there were several avenues that were being explored to expand

their use:

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Setting up the students on the email system to fully utilize the functionality this provides such as reminders

and calendar work

Exploration of ways to integrate storage solutions were being explored (the use of a SharePoint solution

being a possibility).

Using the app eclicker as an online voting system

Using the app Edmodo – a twitter like VLE

Using the app Garage band to create music (ipads)

Working with companies to re-engineer existing resources to work on ipods

Commissioning and building own apps to support the provision of question banks

There was still a need to identify a ‘killer’ app in many subject areas.

The introduction of a camera in the next generation ipods will introduce many learning opportunities

(although there were also esafety issues)

Much of the work of provisioning the ipads would be eased when Apple released their enterprise solution which

would enable devices to be resourced with apps on a site license basis.


One of the major challenges in the introduction of this initiative was the training of the staff. They were issued with

the devices before the students. They were all synched into Exchange and after a while the Head had to make a

statement limiting the time at which emails could be sent as the use was felt to be encroaching on work life balance.

There was no doubt that some staff were unhappy about their introduction in the classroom to begin with and that

there were problems during the first couple of weeks. Many of the issues were around classroom management and

were not technologically based. Included in the plan was the idea that after 6 months there would a ‘ramping up’ of

the use of the ipods in the classroom supported by training. The aim was for the ipods to become fully integrated in

the learning process much like the need for a pen.

Finding companies to provide educational training in such a new area had been difficult and the adoption of the

devices into normal teaching practice had suffered and not been embedded to all staff. There were however a

majority of staff who had engaged with many more beginning to see the benefits. This reflects the idea that the

project would not necessarily give quick returns and needed to be supported over a number of years.

Ipod champions had now been identified and these were to be offered training with the idea that they would then

spread good practice. Other methods would be used to try to embed their use in teaching with mention made in

classroom observations and other teaching methods.


The publicity surrounding the introduction of any high expenditure scheme like this needs to be carefully managed

and should centre on the educational benefits.

Introducing a scheme of this scale needs to be supported with technician support. An estimate is that the minimum

amount of time required in this instance was 2½ days a week.

Regular checks to make sure the students still had their ipods were necessary.

Some students have their ipods regularly confiscated and there needs to be a process to manage this.

The funding of any IT scheme can be quite expensive and costs for the maintenance and continuation need to be

added in. The devices only had a one year guarantee.

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