Monday, November 8, 2010

In the loop

One of the key details that an iPad school has to iron out is the content loop -- how to get stuff on to the iPad, and how to get student work off the iPad and into the hands of a teacher, peer editor, or other audience. Thanks to our Apple Professional Development leader, Dr. Bruce Ahlborn, we now have a plan for how we're going to do just that.

We had considered using the free DropBox app, which seemed like a great way to get content on to the iPad -- but maybe not so smooth at sending content back to the teacher. We have decided to use a MobileMe iDisk as our shared space. Each teacher will be able to access the iDisk from their Mac's desktop. This makes it possible for teachers to manage certain types of iPad content over wifi, rather than waiting for a manual sync.

Within the iDisk, we created folders for each teacher. Within each teacher folder, students will find a TO and a FROM folder. The TO folder is where students will submit their work. The FROM folder is for PDFs, templates, graphic organizers, pages of links, etc. that the students will receive from the teacher. We labeled the TO folder with arrows and asterisks to add some visual emphasis that we hope will help our young students navigate the iDisk effectively. Unfortunately, adding colors to folders in the Finder does not result in colored folders on the iPad; that would certainly be an improvement. Eventually we plan to add a third folder where students can exchange work and create content for one another.

We are spending a planning session next week further testing and streamlining the process for using the iDisk, and then we'll be introducing it to the students. Our iPads all have Pages installed, and we plan to create templates and graphic organizers and share them via iDisk for student use. The teachers are also preparing some PDF resources to guide student learning. We discovered that when PDFs are in the iDisk and then opened in iBooks, they remain on the bookshelf -- the student does not need to navigate back to the iDisk app to access that content later. We anticipate that having our iDisk content loop in place will enable more fluid access to content (with less frequent need for hard-wired syncing), and it will also enable students to begin creating content and publishing work using the iPad.


  1. Hi Carolyn, with iDisk going away are you still using this model or have you moved to WebDAV folders, Dropbox or something else? Just curious!
    Tim Kamps

  2. Hi Tim,

    We are using sort of a combo approach this year -- some people are still on iDisk, some are using a mix of e-mail and Dropbox, others are using WebDAV. We are certainly hoping to find a magic system for content management, but there seems to be so much variability within apps, and it's virtually impossible to use only a single solution. Hopefully we'll iron this out soon and be able to post about it!