Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Saturday, December 3, 2011

iOS5 & Me

After reading this incredibly helpful guide by fellow Chicago iPadder Erik Unterschuetz, I decided to update my classroom's 32 iPads to iOS5. I already had installed Lion OSX onto my MacBook, so I figured that by using Erik's tips I'd be home free. So I smiled, took a deep breath and began the update. Over three hours later, I wasn't smiling anymore.

What took so long?
It wasn't a lack of support in Erik's guide. In fact, I'm positive that his step-by-step instructions shaved at least an hour off of the update time. So what was it?
- The restore to each iPad: I had over 10 movies to sync back to each device (thanks, flipped classroom). If you don't have that much media, it won't take as long for you.
- I had to manually re-enter credentials to the wireless network on each iPad. I don't know if this is a fun quirk of our wireless network of if this will be the case for everyone.
- I had to manually set up the new iPad's iOS (walking through a menu of prompts to enter the Apple ID, enable location services, etc.). That did take some time....
- I had to name each iPad with a unique 15-character CPS-centric naming convention. Perhaps your district won't expect this from you.
- As I was waiting on back ups, restores, downloads, etc - I tried to multi-task and do other things... and inevitably missed prompts to move on. I think if I had the patience to sit and do nothing else but update, it may have taken a little less time... perhaps a little over 2.5 hours instead of a little over 3.5.

After the update... was it worth it? Decide for yourself.

Features of iOS 5 that have been helpful in the classroom:
- 4 finger swipe multi tasking
Students can swipe with four fingers to change apps instead of double clicking to use more than one app at a time. They love this.

- Tabbed browsing in Safari
No more black box with a number in it to signify the number of windows open. Now there are tabs just like your laptop or desktop internet browser. Also very helpful when they are navigating between instructions on Edmodo and a Study Island assignment, etc.

- Increased Accessibility Features for Special Education & ESL students
There is an entire site on apple.com dedicated to this. Check it out if you haven't already!

iOS Features I've heard of but have yet to experience:
- Wireless syncing
Hypothetically I am supposed to now be able to sync the iPads wirelessly - no sync cart needed. I've yet to see this... It may be that my iPads aren't all logged in to my Apple ID yet... it took so long to sync them I gave up trying to enter it into each one manually. I'll try to do this over break and see if it works.

- Airplay wireless Mirroring
iOS5 + $99 Apple TV = wireless projection of everything you do on an iPad to a projector or TV screen. Everything. Whereas with the iPad to VGA adapter, not everything happening on your iPad screen appears in the projection (for example in PaperPort Notes, it doesn't show the annotation buttons so when I try to teach my kids what to tap to change font size, I have to use my iPevo or another doc cam), an Apple TV projects everything. I have seen this in action at the Apple office, but our school's wireless network won't play nice with the Apple TV. We're working on getting this fixed, but hopefully I can test this out soon! Imagine: A student is working on a ShowMe and I call on him to share it - with a tap of his finger his iPad is magically appearing on the projector screen. I told the students about this capability and they literally clapped.

For more info, or to see these features in action, check out this video on the Apple site.

So was the update worth it? I think so... eventually it had to happen. Some apps no longer run well on iOS4 and demand the iOS5 update. The Airplay wireless mirroring offers a myriad of opportunities... i.e., you could replace an interactive whiteboard for less than $600 (1 iPad + Apple TV).

The students also seem to notice the difference. I teach the students what I'm doing as I'm doing it. So they know that I spent all that time doing the update. They know what an iOS means and what it stands for. They know the difference between iOS4 and iOS5. I joke that my 4th and 5th graders could probably get summer jobs at the Apple Store's Genius Bar. As my kids continue to use this new operating system, I'm sure more features will come to light and I'll be happy to share them here.

Have you noticed anything amazing about this new iOS in your classroom?


  1. My jury's still out on the benefits of the "wi-fi" syncing. There are definately both pros and cons of this new feature, what it saves on one hand can be negated by unexplicable "errors" which require a complete restore from backup. Sigh.

    First, the pros! Every time the iPads are powered in the sync cart, it starts to "re-sync" each of them. It really is neat to see all 31 pop up in iTunes without a single cord being attached.

    But, the ugly, it does cause the MacBook to freak out for a little bit until they all fight to sync or give up and stop spinning.

    Although, its back to great again when once the iTunes and iPads are happy, as, I can wirelessly sync up to 5 at a time to back-up/update apps, while students are working on them (not in an app that's updating, naturally)! Wow!

    However, it's not flawless. The number "error" messages are now significantly greater for back-ups failing or iPads not being recognized. I have had to then "restore" a few due to some critical errors that are occurring- somehow, someway.

    All in all, the little updates of media/apps are working well and this is a fantassstic feature! I am hoping that it will continue to get the little bug fixes worked out, and then I'll be a happy girl..

    :) SM

  2. Jennie, I really enjoy your blog and am happy that it seems like I can give something back to you at this point...

    First of all I'm not sure whether your setup and processes would allow this, but when I updated our 100+ iPads with 30 new apps and to OS5, we had been telling everyone all along that they should expect all data to get wiped off their devices. So prior to the content/OS update, we messaged students and parents officially to let them know that this new update would wipe everything. So when we took the iPads, our first step was to put them into DFU mode, which bypassed the lengthy content backup on each device. Then it was OS5 update and then a full content restore/refresh. I tested beforehand to figure out the most efficient way to do this, and this method shaved off about 30-40min from the time it took to turn around each device.

    Secondly regarding wireless credentials, you need to get your hands on "iPhone Configuration Utility" http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/enterprise/ . This allows you to create configuration profiles for iOS devices such as functionality restrictions (disallow Facetime, disallow YouTube, block pop-ups, disable iCloud, etc) create standardized "web clips" (their word for web links that exist as icons on the Home screen), and to preconfigure wireless network credentials.

    Hope this is useful for you.

    Mark B
    San Diego

  3. Thank you both - this is very helpful!

    We hoped to use iPhone Config Utility but for various reasons this wasn't working with our set up. However you're totally right - readers: if you can do this, it is a great time saver! :)

    We needed to keep the content on the iPads as the videos were lessons and students needed to continue viewing them, but I love the idea of bypassing it if it isn't needed - thank you!

    Steph - after all is said and done would you say to skip the wireless sync? I am doing fine with the Bretford cart - in fact it works out really well. Would you suggest avoiding the error messages as you stated above and stick with what I'm doing? Thanks again!

  4. Just curious what you think about the Messages with iOS 5? We are having a good time collaborating through "texting" in Messages. Also I think the students might enjoy using the Reminders as their new planner. We are just getting started with iPads in the classroom. Love the blog.

  5. Honestly haven't tried that yet. Wouldn't each student need his or her own Apple ID to do this? Our students do not have these logins.

  6. Once we manually updated to IOS5, we are still using the carts to sync. We have one Apple ID for all the carts tied to one mother machine. I think the wireless syncing works well for small initiatives or family sharing, but creates confusion for large groups.
    To add to your list...our students are loving the split keyboard feature. I have several students who needed to use dragon (speech to text) for writing, but have switched to using the thumbed typing on the split keyboard and feel pretty cool about it.