After purchasing the basic equipment for our iPod Touch project, and working out how we would go about syncing content to the iPods, James Langley and I continued to battle away with research which would help answer some of our questions. We had meetings in person and via Skype at all hours to make sure we were getting it right.
We spent an afternoon researching some of the great educational apps that there were available. We were pleased to discover the huge wealth of free content available through Apple's App Store which would be really relevant to our project. The benefits to pupils' learning were just obvious. And even Michael Gove might be pleased. One of the first apps we found was perfect for learning times tables by rote, but as it was on an iPod Touch it seemed somewhat less Dickensian. (I will publish a full list of the apps we have used in a future post).
James and I met, alongside Tim Bleazard, ICT Teacher at Challenge CLC, throughout March to carry out some very important tests to answer the following questions relating to the use of the internet:
- How easy was it to enter the wireless and proxy settings?
- Could these settings be copied or synced between iPods or did they need to be entered manually each time?
- Did our school internet filtering detect the iPods and block the same web addresses as on the netbooks, laptops and desktops?
- Was there any content that would not be compatible with the iPods?
We found some great answers. And some not so great answers. Here they are.
Entering web proxy and wireless settings is a piece of cake (although you may need to involve your technical support, if this is not you, to get some of the details you'll need).
The process: On the iPod Touch, open up Settings > Wi-Fi. You should be greeted with this screen:
Make sure that the Wi-Fi is turned on and after a second or two you should see a list of the available wireless networks.
Top Tip: If you have difficulty finding wireless networks which you are sure are available, there may be an issue with your iPod Touch's wireless card. To test this, first try simply heading back to the previous 'Settings' screen and re-selecting the 'Wi-Fi' option. Sometimes all it needs is a good kick up the backside. If this fails, try turning the iPod Touch off and then back on again (can you tell I work with ICT?). Finally, if you're still having trouble, try a hard reset of the device - details of which will be made available in a future post - and give it another go. If it's still not working, but others are, your wireless card is dead and the device needs replacing, which will be done under warranty.
Once the list of Wi-Fi networks is displayed on screen, enter the network's password (presuming that it has one). You should only need to do this once as the settings will save automatically. If your school accesses the internet through a proxy server, you will also need to enter these settings. To do this, tap the blue and white arrow next to your wireless network and scroll to the bottom of the next screen:
Enter the proxy settings and away you go. You'll probably want to test that it's working straight away by launching the iPod's inbuilt web browser, Safari, which looks like this:
Pretty easy, yes? And now for the bad news...
To my knowledge (and trust me I looked hard enough for the info) there is no way to synchronise an iPod's settings with a Windows PC or Mac, meaning that these settings need to be entered manually for each device. We bought 96 iPod Touches. 'Nuff said.
Access to internet content
As our school does access the internet through a proxy server, the iPods were also routed through this server. Therefore, all content which we block in school in line with our e-Safety Policy is inaccessible on the iPods. This, obviously, was a relieving discovery.
The great thing about the iPod Touch is that you can access the whole of the internet in the palm of your hands. Except that that's a big fat lie. As Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been forced to explain his reasoning for many times, iPod Touches do not currently include, nor do Apple envisage any plans for them to include, support for Flash or any Flash-based website. The implications of this are at best irritating, at worst lesson-killers.
Top Tip: I know you all would anyway, but... Make sure you test websites you plan to use well in advance of using them in class. This is more important than ever due to the lack of support for Flash.
And that's it for now...
It may appear to make little sense for me to talk about the finer configuration of the devices before explaining the wider process of setting them up first, but I am simply explaining the chronological learning process I underwent during the initial stages of this project. My next post in the 'Innovating with iPods' series will focus on the full setup process.
Keep checking back for updates, or subscribe to be kept fully in the loop.