Friday, April 17, 2015

Using Schoology to Overcome iPad limitations in the Classroom

As elegant and user friendly the design of the iPad is, it has one glaring weakness for classrooms that want students to share iPads... no multiuser interface.  There is no way to have students login and logout of iPads to customize their experience, setup their email address, use the calendar and much more.  In my classroom this limitation has definately caused a few problems and limited the usefulness of iCloud and the built in apps for iOS.  By no means does it make them all unusable but it certainly takes away the user friendly package of Pages and other apps connecting with iCould automatically and synching across devices.  This means that students that create work on the iPad all save their work to the same local folder or iCloud account which allows them to edit, copy, delete and otherwise mangle someone else's work.  Now, you might say, who would delete or change someone else's work??? I can tell you from experience, an 8th grader will.  Sometimes on accident and sometimes on purpose.  One solution I tried was to use the password protection option in Pages to stop people from damaging work.  This however only stops people from opening the document not from deleting it.  Trust me, it is super difficult when a student has spent two days on a project only to have another student delete it, and there is no way to get it back.  To remedy this situation I turned to Schoology to create a storage place for students work and allow students to access their work from home. Since every student has their own unique login to Schoology they have a way to keep their work separate from their peers.  This is done by students sending their work to the Schoology resources folder instead of just leaving them in Pages or whatever app they are using.  With the document safely uploaded to Schoology they can then delete the document from Pages.  To continue working on the document they simply download it from Schoology the next day or at home.  This is the other benefit of using the resources folder.  Students can use this system to access their work from home.  If students want to do their homework they can download what they started in class and continue working on their own device or computer.  Once finished, they upload back to their Schoology resource and it is once again accessible at school.  Of course if they are finished with the assignment they can simply turn it in instead of return it to their resources.  The drawback to this system is the time it takes to save the work and load it again.  It would be much faster to simply open it back up in the app.  I, for one, keep hoping that iOS will someday be upgraded to support multiple users and the seamless operation of iCloud can be applied to every student.  I understand another option is the use of Google Docs and Drive.  Personally, I feel the Google Docs Apps are missing too many features to be a viable alternative to Pages at this time.  If that changes in the future, it may be an option, just not yet.

Happy Teaching