iPad Program Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which grades participate in Green Acres' iPad Program

Green Acres’ 1-to-1 iPad program, launched last school year, issues iPads to all students in grades 5-8. Fourth graders also recieve iPads but do not take them home, and students across the lower school have access to iPads for use at school.

Q. Where can I learn about the iPad?

As you might expect, Apple offers a wealth of information on the iPad: 

Of course, you can find thousands of other resources through an online search. We will also offer orientation sessions for students in grades 5-8 and their parents in August; if you have questions in advance, please don’t hesitate to contact us at  ipad@greenacres.org.

Q. How are we paying for this?

The funding of the iPads comes from the Middle School fee, which also pays for textbooks, various activities, and outdoor education trips. iPads will be treated as property of the School while your child is a Green Acres student. However, after graduation, or upon a student’s withdrawal from Green Acres, the ownership of the iPad will transfer to the student’s family.

Q. When do students receive their iPads?

We distribute iPads to Grade 5 students (as students enter Middle School) and hold introductory training sessions in August. Students are required to attend one of these sessions with an adult family member. We send additional information about these dates late in the spring.

Q. Do you offer ongoing training on how to use the iPad?

Yes. In addition to the introductory sessions, we schedule training sessions throughout the year as indicated.

Q. May students opt out of using the iPad?

No. We want all students to be on equal footing in each class as they learn to use new technology.

Q. Does the School provide additional parent communication about the iPad?

Yes. The August training sessions are for both students and parents. In addition, we host additional parent conversations if we find there is a need. For ongoing information about the iPad program, visit our blog at greenipads.wordpress.com. You can choose to “Follow” the blog to receive email each time it is updated.

Q. My child already has an iPad. Can he or she use that one?

No. Tuition and fees include a new iPad that is equipped with software for school and configured with specific user settings. Because keeping machines properly configured is in part a School responsibility, we need to standardize machines as completely as possible.

Q. What about auxiliary equipment?

Each school iPad will come with a case, which is expected to be used at all times. However, a student may substitute his or her own case and return the other to Green Acres. In addition, families may purchase accessories, such as a keyboard or stylus, from numerous online and local vendors.

Q. Can students install their own apps?

Yes. We will preload iPads with apps that will be used at school. Middle School parents may also choose to purchase and install educational apps for their children.

Q. Can parents control the apps their children install?

Yes. It is important that students use iPads responsibly, and we’ll be working with parents to make sure that this is the case. We have found great success in this area in 2011–2012 as parents and students have developed effective strategies to manage their iPads. Parents can set various controls through the iPad’s settings; we will cover these features during our ongoing training sessions. In addition, staff members are available to help with these settings as you need them.

Q. Will the Web be filtered on student iPads at school?

We are engaged in ongoing discussions about Internet filtering on the School network, but at this point we do not filter the Web on campus. However, we do monitor student Internet use and we talk frequently about appropriate uses of technology. You may, of course, filter your home network. Various filtering software can be located easily by an Internet search. It’s important to remember that no filter is 100% effective, and that filters are most effective when they complement ongoing conversations regarding smart and appropriate use of technology.

Q. What happens if an iPad gets broken, lost, or stolen?

Along with the iPads, purchases will include Applecare, which extends the normal one-year warranty against manufacturing defects and malfunctions to three years. Green Acres will also purchase insurance for each iPad. At orientation we will explain the process for families to follow if a device goes missing or needs to be repaired.

Q. Am I required to have wireless Internet access at home for the iPad program?

No, but it will make your life easier. For example, wireless service will allow students to do research, access e-texts, and communicate with others from home. (The iPad does not plug into a hard-wired Internet connection.) If you have any sort of Internet access at your home, it is generally easy to add wireless service. Feel free to contact David Darefsky if you need help on how to set this up. If students don’t have Wi-Fi access at home, they can connect to the Internet at school and at many businesses, such as Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, and Panera. Also, many public buildings, such as libraries, have free wireless access available. The iPad models we are purchasing do not have cellular service and therefore do not require monthly access fees.

Q. Will students still need laptop or desktop computers once they have iPads?

While the iPad should be able to handle most of a student’s computing needs, it is not intended to replace a laptop or desktop computer. Students were rarely in need of a laptop or desktop computer at school during the pilot year of the iPad program, but we will continue to use more full-featured computers at school as necessary.

Q. What do students need to do to "sync" the iPads?

With the newest version of the operating system, iOS 5, syncing the iPad is accomplished automatically through Apple’s iCloud service. However, it is still possible to sync the iPad simply by connecting it to a laptop or desktop computer, a process that backs up the contents of the iPad and usually takes just a few minutes (after the first sync). Syncing does not affect how the iPad is used; it merely provides a backup for the iPad in the event that something should happen to it.

Q. Are all textbooks available electronically?

Not yet. Though some courses during the pilot year used e-texts, not all textbooks are currently available and our best guess is still a few years before most texts are. We are evaluating our current textbooks and will make transitions to electronic versions as they become available and meet our students’ needs. However, in many instances where electronic versions are not available for purchase, there are nonetheless electronic supplements that may allow students to leave textbooks at home and install electronic versions on their iPads.

Q. What about novels and other books required for certain classes?

Some novels are available electronically, and we are continually evaluating which titles we will support in electronic format.

Q. Can families purchase iPads through Green Acres to take advantage of volume discounts?

Unfortunately, no. However, the discounts on volume purchases are so meager that you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing much!

Q. If students' iPads are broken or missing, will they be at a disadvantage?

If there is a problem with an iPad it should be assessed by the Technology Department immediately. Insurance claims and logistics will be the responsibilities of each family, though we will be happy to help guide you through this process if necessary. Turnaround time for repairs is usually two to three weeks. Though our supply of “loaners” will of course be limited, we will do our best not leave students at a disadvantage. As long as a student’s iPad has been synced to a home or school computer, especially through iCloud, the loaner iPad can be set up exactly like the original with no loss of data, and the student can use the iPad as before.

Q. Will students need iTunes accounts to use with iPads?

Yes. Students must have iTunes accounts to add or sync apps. Students may use their current accounts if they have already been set up. If not, you may wait until the August trainings, when we will also discuss setting up iTunes accounts.

Q. Doesn't iTunes require a credit card for purchases? How will I keep my student form charging iTunes purchases without my permission?

It’s true that a credit card makes things easier, but we understand that it can make them too easy! There are several ways to avoid problems. First, it is possible to set up an iTunes account without a credit card. To make any purchases, a student would need to purchase an iTunes gift card and add its value to the account in a very simple procedure. Once the value of the gift card has been exhausted, no further purchases can be made until another gift card is added. Second, a parent may link an iPad to his or her own iTunes account without giving a child the password. Since a password is required to make purchases, each addition would require your approval. Finally, a parent can set up an iPad to require a password to make any changes to the configuration, including adding or deleting apps or music purchases. We will review all of this information during our August training sessions.

Q. Do I need to create any other accounts to use with the iPad?

No. There are some advantages to having a MobileMe account, for example, when sharing data between an iPad and a computer, but it is not necessary or required. All necessary iPad services that students will use at school, such as maintaining a calendar and school email account, will be accessible through students’ school Google accounts.

Q. Will the iPad be a distraction to students, who could be playing games and surfing the Web instead of staying on task?

The pilot program suggests that the luster of the iPad wears off within a month or two, and we will do our best to remain vigilant. Remember also that this is something our teachers are skilled at supervising every day using our existing computers. In addition, while this is an ongoing challenge with middle school students, it is important for them to learn to manage their technology use early. Overall, we have experienced very few problems in this area during our pilot program. We will discuss terms of use during the August orientation sessions.

Q. Will the school set rules for use of the iPad at home?

We expect that families will observe School rules about decency and treatment of others, and broad guidelines for age-appropriateness of software. For example, students may not use their iPads to demean others online, and we expect that families will not allow children to install R-rated movies on their iPads. In August 2011 we revised the School’s Acceptable Use Policy for Computers and the Internet and drafted specific iPad guidelines. Regularly scheduled grade parent coffees have provided opportunities for comparison and exchange of information during the pilot. While we expect all families to observe general guidelines, the School’s authority and interest in regulating each family’s practice is limited, and we are confident our students understand that different families do things different ways.

Q. May students keep their iPads over school breaks and holidays?

Yes. During the pilot program, many students have made good use of their iPads over breaks, by playing chess, reading books on plane rides, and practicing skills using many educational and/or game apps. We don’t recommend taking iPads to the beach, but we recognize that each family will set its own rules. Within the constraints of common sense, we don’t think it’s possible or even desirable to dictate to each family all of the ways and places the iPad can be used.

Q. Are school iPad programs common?

Over the past several months iPad programs have expanded from dozens of schools nationally to hundreds; barely a week passes without another newspaper or Web article. Here at Green Acres we have hosted dozens of teachers and administrators from Washington-area independent schools looking to move to one-to-one tablet computing programs. However, it is still the case that relatively few schools around the country have implemented one-to-one programs. We are convinced that this is part of the future, and we expect that number to grow very quickly as well.

Q. What if I have questions that aren't answered here?

Please ask! Our pilot program has confirmed our expectation that people view new technology in many different ways: Some couldn’t wait to adopt the iPad, some were quite concerned about its effects, and some were cautiously optimistic. Of course the pilot has not been perfect, but every staff member agrees that it has been worthwhile, and we are discovering new opportunities frequently! We welcome input from parents, students, and staff—we can’t think of everything and we’re truly open to and grateful for constructive criticism. Please call us, or send email to ipad@greenacres.org if you have questions or concerns.

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