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Budgeting for iPad Sets

July 9, 2012

Recently, I was talking with some school leaders in our district and many of them were questioning what they needed to consider when thinking about getting classroom sets of iPads at their schools.  Some leaders thought they had covered all of their bases, only to discover they truly needed additional materials to have a fully operational cart.

Here’s a list of things you’ll need to have a successful iPad lab for student use in your school.

  • MacBook. This one gets top billing on the list because it’s the item that people are least likely to realize they need.  Without a MacBook, you have no way to effectively purchase apps and sync the iPads through the sync cart.  Also, you’ll need one laptop per cart.  Trust me.  I know from experience that attempting to sync multiple carts with one computer is not only impossible, it will leave your mind spinning.
  • Storage/charge/sync cart. Be careful when looking at different options, because not all of them serve all three purposes. We use the Bretford PowerSync cart, which I would definitely recommend.
  • Protective cases.  While this may seem obvious, it seems that this might be something people are choosing to forgo as a cost-saving measure.  DON’T.  You’re making an investment in this technology, and money will be wasted if the devices break. I’ll go ahead and put in a plug for the Griffin Survivor cases.  I had a student spill juice on her iPad just days before dropping it on the floor while standing (don’t worry–same student).  That iPad still works thanks to these cases.
  • iPads. This may fit into the “duh” category, but I do have a note about it.  We discovered that when purchasing the devices, 25 is pretty much the max number that will fit into the Bretford carts once the Survivor cases have been put on the iPads.  So, if you purchase a set of 30 (which is how many the cart says it will fit), you’re going to have some overflow.  Just go ahead and cut that number down to 25.  Money saved!
  • Volume Purchase Program voucher.  Make sure that your district or school is signed up and eligible to use the Volume Purchase Program.  If they’re not, get that done and then purchase the voucher.  I believe they come in increments of $500, $1,000, or $5,000.  To give you an idea of how much you might spend, I have purchased all of the apps we needed last year for 125 iPads using about $500 worth of money through the VPP.  You will spend much, much more if you are buying apps for individual teachers.  That number is for a ballpark estimate for class sets.
  • iPad manager.  You may not need to put this in your budget, but you will need a capable, willing, dedicated person to manage the app purchasing and device syncing.  I devoted hours upon hours to get the carts set up, so make sure you choose this person wisely–without a human to make the technology work, you’ll have wasted thousands of dollars on the items listed above.

When you put that budget together, the number may initially seem overwhelming.  However, the increased student engagement and improved learning environment you will see are certainly worth it.  Spend the money to do it right.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    August 28, 2012 9:17 pm

    So it sounds like the slots can be removed or widened on the Bretford cart? A Bretford Rep told me the Powersync cart will not accommodate the survivor as both have a depth of 0.81 inches. They suggested on Otterbox.

    • August 29, 2012 6:30 pm

      We decided to go with the Survivor cases based on recommendations from other schools. I haven’t heard anything about the merits of Otterbox vs. Survivor. We knew the Survivor cases would work, so that’s what we went with.

      You can most definitely remove the slots in the Bretford cart to make the iPads fit. I’ll try to do a post soon with a picture of how we organized our carts. When you use the Survivor case and remove the slots, the cart will no longer fit 30 iPads (we have 25 in our carts).

      Let me know if that leaves you with some more questions!

      • John Michalenko permalink
        August 29, 2012 8:02 pm

        Thank you very much, I was hoping to take advantage of a back to school offer on the Griffen Survivors, but the cart hasn’t shipped yet. So thank you. John

        ________________________________

      • John permalink
        September 14, 2012 7:08 pm

        Our cart has arrived! I was wondering if you have a chance if you could send a photo of how you organized the inside. Thanks, John

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