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Mineola Schools Grapple with iPad App Dilemma

District trying to avoid $10,000 price of repurchasing apps each year.

As anything becomes larger it can experience what is commonly referred to as “growing pains,” whether it be adolescents, corporations or even programs.

As the enthusiasm from Mineola students – and parents – has grown over the district’s , which was piloted last year, such pains could be said to have occurred as it expanded into more fifth grade classrooms in the 2011-12 school year.

The district is currently having a “problem” with volume purchasing on the applications, or “apps,”  used on the devices, including one designed to track student’s progress with NWEA data.

In the there were fewer devices and the district simply synced each device with a computer individually before issuing it to a student.

“This year in our zeal to get them into kids’ hands we put the basic ones on and now in retrospect we should’ve taken a little more time and loaded everything we wanted on it and be done,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler said at the November 3 meeting of the .  

The shift this year came when the district began issuing voucher codes to the students so they could download the apps on their own. Mineola currently has its own “app store” within iTunes “and children are supposed to be able to take a voucher from us, go to our store and download an app into our machine,” Dr. Nagler said.

The only way the download currently works however is if the child has their own account and downloads the application, but the student, not the district would own it “because there’s no way for me to retrieve the app off the machine once they put it into their store, it really isn’t on the machine, it’s on their account,” the superintendent explained. When students hand in the machines at the end of the year, the district loses the program since the devices are erased before they are reissued for the next school year.

The total amount of money Mineola spends on apps for the iPad program is about $10,000. According to Dr. Nagler, neighboring school districts simply purchase new apps each year, making about $5,000 in app purchases each school year.

“I’m not inclined to spend a lot of money on apps and not have them next year,” the superintendent said. “Volume purchasing isn’t supposed to work that way. I’d like to buy them once and own them, that’s the purpose.”

The district is in the process of trying to find a solution how the district can have it’s own “dummy” account, such as “student-1” and could use that strategy to retain the applications year-to-year. There are currently 250 iPads in the hands of students and each one would have to be given its own account and issued to the student.

“They could sync their iTunes account to a different device and have all the apps that they redeemed from us,” Dr. Nagler theorized. “If you put the new OS on you wipe out everything on the machine. The only way to restore everything on the machine is to go to the iTunes account so if we don’t have our own accounts, we never get those back. Apple is incredibly difficult to network.”

Dr. Nagler did say that at a future meeting he plans on having students com in to a board meeting and demonstrate the new NWEA applications, which were done through the eSpark initiative.

As for those fifth graders who might still be waiting, the superintendent advised “patience, patience. They want their apps, but we will get them their apps.”

Patrick February 05, 2012 at 01:50 PM
So Vincent, should we go back to inhaling chalk dust?
Vincent February 07, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Patrick, I have always had a habit of researching and not going into things with my eyes closed. Perhaps these folks did some research also: http://www.sott.net/articles/show/236721-A-Silicon-Valley-School-That-Doesn-t-Compute. Heck, if I recall I even questoined that thing called the New Math. Did you?
Jeanne Falabella February 08, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I'm sure the fumes from those Dri-Erase Markers are so much healthier than chalk dust!
Vincent February 10, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Jeanne Falabella, always nice to hear from you. Thank you for your concern and also your valuable input.
mimi February 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM
For the naysayers - another article about how technology has improved academic performance http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/education/mooresville-school-district-a-laptop-success-story.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&smid=fb-share

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