By Maria Skiadelli (11th Primary School of Chalandri)
After receiving the 10 tablets for the iRead Greek Novice Reader Pilot that were kindly offered for this purpose to our school, some of our major concerns were how to achieve the optimal learning outcome and how students will gain full access to them. Below you may find some tips we came up with and wanted to share with you on the iRead Blog.
Firstly, we bought some shockproof, multicolored tablet cases to enhance their resistance, as well as screen protectors in an effort of avoiding screen scratches. Our students love to choose their favorite case color, which except from being less fragile it can now, comfortably be placed on their desks lying on its kickstand support while offering them a truly hands-free experience.
Furthermore, we wanted to be able to cast their screens at the classroom’s whiteboard. We considered the many available, at the time, solutions and finally chose the Google Chromecast 1 device. It’s a very small device than can easily connect to our projector via the hdmi port and to our tablets through the wifi network of our school. If you have more than one hdmi sources, you can use an hdmi switch to choose between them. Every tablet now can cast its screen on the projector via the Google Home application that enables us to control its casting.
Moreover, we soon realized that we need to optimize our tablet charging procedure. Therefore, we bought a multi-charger hub with 10 USB ports, enough to fully charge all our tablets simultaneously in a few hours. This is faster and more convenient than using an electric multipower source.
Lastly, to protect the tablets from intentional or unintentional software misuse, we installed AppLock application to all of them, which is an open access app found in Google Play Store. This app helps us in preventing students from uninstalling, installing new apps or changing existing ones (updates, etc.) on the tablet, or changing their basic settings. Once installed, our tablets are protected and only the administrator-teacher can perform major changes through a password protected environment.
Now the tablets can be used without having to constantly deal with the above issues and students can make the best use of them. iRead project has also given us the possibility to use the tablets in other educational concepts and activities such as:
- document processing (e.g. Google apps, MS Office apps etc.),
- comics creation and storytelling (Comic Strip application),
- robotics, programming and coding (Lightbot application),
- augmented reality (Quiver application).
There are many interesting apps that you can easily add and use for free to their basic configuration. Α list of applications is here (according to the “Open Sesame” model produced by Doukas School team).