Jen Carey is LIVE blogging for us from the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. You can also find these posts on her site – indianajen.com.

Concurrent Session #1: iPads for Administrators – Chris Casal

While the title of this talk is iPad for Administrators, the focus is less about administration and more on working as a leader (in every capacity) in the school. Chris works for a public school in NYC of about 1,000 students.

Administrators view iPads primarily for three things: communication, collaboration, and observation. They often have a fourth goal as well: going paperless. iPad is an amazing tool for communication and for being able to do so silently. Using a traditional PA system is loud and disruptive. In a school environment, we seem to either be inundated with information via interruption, or we are entirely out of the loop. In terms of communication within a school, we have the old standby of technology: the email distribution list. This way, we can limit information to a select group and send it out electronically. If teachers have iPads, they are not tied to a computer, they can get it on the go.

In addition to traditional list serves, there are also new media being used by schools: blogs and Twitter that can readily be followed by students and faculty. While using hashtags is new, administrators seem to be embracing it. The school has various hashtags that they use to disseminate information, and since so many students, as well as parents, are on Twitter that it can be a faster medium by which to distribute information.

casal-dropboxCollaboration at PS10 in Brooklyn is primarily in the cloud (they are a Google Apps School), and they also use DropBox to share information. The school has various shared folders that they use for administrative details, staff, and/or students. This is another quick and easy way to distribute information as it limits paper distribution and inbox clutter. In addition to DropBox, the school uses Google Drive.

By using Google Drive, not only can staff and students share information but they can also edit them live. Google Drive is still fairly new, and it is not as iPad friendly – yet. Chris said that they currently prefer DropBox as it is more adaptable for various programs and more cross-platform friendly. The great benefits of the cloud is that content can always be accessed regardless of device or platform. Chris also likes to use the program DROPitTOme for student submission of work. It helps to keep all content for a class in one place. Using DROPTitTOme means that you no longer have to manage folders or sharing permissions. It is purely a submission element. However, Chris does say that ultimately they will move entirely to Google Drive in the next few years.

Another great element of iPad is that it allows for real-time observation and feedback. If you look at his presentation, available here, you can see a variety of his favorite applications to use for collaboration and observation on iPad. Chris demonstrates the ability of annotating a PDF observation form using the app Good Reader. He quickly accesses and annotates the form via DropBox and then posts it within seconds. This demonstrates how easy it is to use iPad for portable and paperless record keeping – making the bane of education a little more palpable 😉

Chris’s ultimate message is that you have to try things out. Fortunately, iPad apps are cheap or even have free “lite” versions. Two dollars is a worthy investment for exploration. If you want to try something new, try it out. It’s about being flexible and finding options. Ultimately, iPad can help administrators and educators achieve that fourth goal: to become paperless (or at least less paper-y). Take the printer out of the thought process. Send it to iPad!

You can view all of Chris’ presentation materials – as well as those from other presenters – on the iPad Summit web site.