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Making iPads Cost Effective: Tips from a Digital Integration Specialist

By: Sean Junkins

Scissors cutting the word costs concept for recession or credit crisis

In my role as a Digital Integration Specialist for Horry County Schools, I work with quite a few schools across our rather large district. Even though we have had schools embracing mobile learning for a number of years, going to a 1:1 iPad model in our middle schools has been a relatively new endeavor. My primary role is to assist schools and teachers as they work to integrate these devices into their learning environments in meaningful and engaging ways.

Purchasing iPads can be a huge investment for a school or district, but fortunately, accessing quality apps and resources does not have to pose an additional financial burden. In fact, many worthwhile apps can be accessed for free. Apple provides several powerful apps that can transform any classroom. Whether you are looking for apps that foster creativity and collaboration or apps that support engagement and productivity, look no further than what Apple already has to offer.

  • iBooks is a great way to download and read content on iPad and the iBooks Store has a great mix of free and paid content. There is a wide variety of fully illustrated children’s books, multi-touch textbooks, and even classic novels that can be accessed and used for free. iBooks also makes it so easy for students to navigate through a piece of text and even the search features in iBooks are super intuitive for students.
  • iTunes U is a one-stop-shop for learning resources. They have content available from K-12 and higher education institutions as well as organizations classified as “beyond campus” such as: National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institute, and even the Library of Congress. iTunes U brings every learning resource imaginable into one easy to access location. Teachers and students alike can take courses from Stanford, MIT, or even Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale all from their iPad.
  • Pages, Keynote, and Numbers are what Apple refers to as their iWork apps, and if your iPad device was activated after September 2013, these iWork apps are available free of charge. These are three very powerful applications that open up a world of possibility for student productivity. Students can use these three apps to create their own engaging and interactive content, and they can be doing it for free.
  • iMovie is an awesome video creation and editing studio that lets students tells stories digitally, like never before. Students can create and edit their own original video creations or take advantage of the iMovie trailer templates. The sky is truly the limit for what students can do with this application. As long as their device was activated after September 2013, iMovie is a free app for any iPad user.

While it’s true there are definitely plenty of apps out there worth every penny, no school or district should let financial limitations hinder their ability to bring mobile devices, like iPads, into their classrooms. Tapping into the power and potential of student productivity doesn’t require a dime to be spent on apps. In fact, we’ve been 1:1 iPad in our middle schools since January 2014 and have not purchased a single app for our students. We’ve learned to take advantage of the free apps and resources available and maximize these programs and applications to their fullest potential. Purchasing iPads can be a big purchase, but using these devices to engage and empower students can be done for free.