Most schools that have embarked on an iPad roll out know that updating the local Acceptable Use Policy is a must. Is this enough? Once a campus or district has moved past a small number of devices a detailed handbook for students, parents, teachers, and campus technology support is a must. The central IT support function should take the lead on developing the policies and procedures that need to be detailed to provide a clear understanding of how the devices will or will not be used, who is responsible for damage, and how to get support.
The iPad handbook is a supplement to the student and staff handbooks that are already in place and should reference these as often as possible to show continuity between policies. The iPad handbook should stand alone as a guide to acceptable use and should also include items such as useful tips and tricks, basic troubleshooting, useful resources, and digital citizenship guidelines.
While technology such as mobile device management is relied upon heavily to restrict user activities it is never a 100% solution. Good policy with spelled out expectations and consequences can help fill in the gaps. IT and campus leadership should work together to devise handbooks that are helpful and address the ‘what if” questions that teachers, students, and parents may have.
The Student Handbook
My review of student handbooks finds that most include a justification for the use of mobile devices, some basics about the use of the iPad, how students will receive and return the iPad, how to take care of the iPad, how to save files at school, the use of installed software, prohibited activities, repairing or replacing the iPad, and an acceptable use pledge for students to sign.
The Parent Handbook
The parents should receive a handbook similar to students that includes an opportunity for their child to opt out of using the device if they choose. Including clear learning objectives for the use of mobile devices may help in alleviating any parent concerns about the use of the device in the classroom.
The Teacher Handbook
Teacher handbooks mirror the student handbook but have additional information on support and resources for teaching with iPads. Expectations for classroom use of mobile devices for teaching and learning should be included as well.
Campus Support Handbook
The campus support person needs to know not only what has been provided to students and teachers but how to provide first level support for the iPads, how to manage the purchase of software, how to keep the iPads charged and up to date, and the expectations of the district IT group. By preparing these handbooks in advance the district IT group has an opportunity to clearly design roles and responsibilities, when to escalate an issue, and procedures for basic support. This can help to minimize confusion at the beginning of the school year or when a new batch of devices is rolled out to a campus.
Handbooks are an important tool when rolling out iPads and are part of a good communication strategy. If your school or district needs assistance with a handbook or has questions contact me at email@example.com.