Friday, September 30, 2016

Revising the App Selection Process in Waukesha

One of the first lessons we learn about technology is that change is inevitable.

At the onset of Waukesha One (four years ago), we rolled out an app selection process that provided everybody with a stable, reliable, versatile set of apps called Core Apps. Layered atop core apps, parents, students, and teachers self-selected apps from the app store that would be beneficial to their specific situations.  Without question, this was a popular and successful method for introducing apps into our educational systems. 

As a system, we are at a point where we need to re-visit and revise our app selection and distribution process. We are learning from our teachers and students which apps are most ideal for the work staff and students do daily. We also have more tools available today that can make delivery of these apps more efficient and provide better service to all of you.

Apps and App Store Remain Available

To be clear, the App Store will continue to be accessible on SDW provided iPads. Apps purchased by students, teachers, and families will not be erased or removed. If an individual wishes to put an app from the app store on the iPad with their own regular Apple ID, they will still be able to do so.

Significant Apple ID Changes for Students

Apple's approved program and process for creating Apple IDs has shifted twice since our first rollout a few years ago. We now have a method for generating Managed Apple IDs that have the sole ability to back up content from the iPad. They cannot purchase apps from the app store.  These will be the SDW district-approved Apple IDs moving forward. It will take some time for these changes to be fully realized in a system our size. 

Previously we encouraged students and families to create their own Apple ID or an Under 13 Apple ID.  We will no longer encourage students or families to do this. We will now provide students an alternate method for accessing approved apps that does not require an Apple ID.

App Distribution to Students via Self Service

The Core Apps are not going anywhere. These apps are available district-wide, are widely used, and have been instrumental supports for many instructional transformations across the district.

Moving forward, instructors will be able to suggest apps they feel should be added to Self Service that will be available to students across their building, at their grade level, and eventually even for specific groups of students.  After the app has gone through a thorough vetting process, approved apps will be available to the identified students via Self Service without need for an Apple ID.

Vetting Apps for Use with Students

Just as teachers have always done, it remains the primary responsibility of the teacher to check out the quality and safety of the app before submitting it for approval.  There is a helpful guide that can get you started as you explore an app that you would like to see students use in your classroom.

Additionally, we ask that teachers of similar grade levels or subjects within a building come to a consensus on which apps will be available to students. For instance, teachers at each building in Kindergarten and 1st Grade across our elementary schools started this process by calling meetings, discussing which apps would be on their approved list, and then submitting these apps for approval. We ask that you work with your colleagues to do the same before submitting an app request.

Approval of Apps

App requests must be entered into the SDW Self Service App Request Form available here:

Apps will be reviewed for key elements that include instructional value, terms of use, student privacy and data collection. This process may take some time depending on the volume of requests. Allow sufficient time for review, approval, and distribution of the app in Self Service. Not all apps will be approved.  All submissions for a Self Service App Request will receive email notification of the determination made.

Using the Apps

Once an app has been approved, students should visit Self Service to download the app. No Apple ID is required. Teachers may need to download the apps from the App Store with the professional Apple ID created when you received your district Mac and iPad. 

As students move through the system, these apps will come and go from their iPads automatically (within a reasonable amount of time). As  a student moves from one building to another, or to a new grade level (as indicated in Infinite Campus), new apps will become available to the student in Self Service while some previously assigned apps may leave the student's iPad.

Supporting Our Instructional Goals

While any new process can shift how we do something we were previously comfortable with, we believe this new process is going to be a positive change that will continually support the instructional goals across our system.
As always, your Instructional technology team is willing and ready to help you navigate through technology to find what best suites your instructional outcomes.