Frequently Asked Questions

Photo students iPad

Does the District offer an insurance program for the iPad?

Yes. Full details about the insurance program and instructions on how to purchase insurance can be found here.

Apple IDs

Each student will need his/her own Apple ID for use with the iPad. Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, you will use you school Gmail address for a school-specific Apple ID for your iPad to properly work at MTKA. Students who began the 1:1 program earlier may use an existing personal Apple ID not associated with their school Gmail. Siblings should not share the same Apple ID, but create their own. One Apple ID per student is required.

May I bring my own iPad to school?

If you are in a grade using iPads provided by the District, you will be asked to use a school-issued iPad due to app licensing and the instructional materials that will be loaded on the devices for classroom learning. In the future, we may explore opportunities for student/family owned devices to be used, but for now we will only use school-issued devices so we can manage the apps/licensing, settings and configurations within our network. If you are not in a grade using iPads provided by the District, you are welcome to bring a laptop, iPad, or other personal electronic devices for educational use only. You may wish to consider some of the apps being used in the program. Use of personal devices at school must:

  • Adhere to District Technology Policies
  • Be used for educational purposes only
  • Not create a distraction or disruption to the learning environment

Minnetonka teachers have the discretion of allowing or not allowing the use of electronic devices during instructional time. Please respect and follow your teacher’s instructions.

Should students invest in a wireless keyboard?

We suggest holding off on buying an external keyboard. From our experience, after a few days of using an iPad, students become faster typists. Some have returned an external keyboard they had purchased due to lack of use, but everyone is different. Once you get a feel for how comfortable typing you are on your iPad you can better decide what works best for your needs.

Does it make sense to get a stylus for writing on the iPad for the various activities and projects?

Using a stylus is a personal preference. Many students have discovered that a finger can be just as precise. Therefore we do not suggest purchasing a stylus until you get a feel for how comfortable you are writing on your iPad so you can better decide what works best for your needs.

I am curious to know whether students will be able to add Dropbox to their list of applications? If not, what method are you using to allow her access to saved documents?

Students use a Minnetonka Google Apps school account and use Google Docs (educational version) for cloud storage with their iPad. This method is similar to Dropbox.

Will the wireless network handle all of these devices?

Yes. The schools' wireless networks have grown with the program to meet speed and capacity needs. All students may access the wireless network to use portable computing devices. The wireless network has the same filters the student computer network has and all District Acceptable Use policies apply to use of the wireless network.

Will I use an iPad in all my classes?

Minnetonka teachers have the discretion of allowing or not allowing the use of electronic devices during instructional time. Please respect and follow each of your teacher’s instructions. If teachers permit use of electronic devices, users must adhere to District Technology Policies, be for educational purposes only, and must not be a distraction or disruption to the learning environment.

How can I suggest new Apps for the school iPads?

Students in the iPad program are also enrolled in an iPad Schoology course. We encourage students to share suggestions for enhancing the educational use of the iPad. Please contribute to the conversation by making suggestions on the Discussion Board of the iPad Schoology Course.

What is the cost to families for the iPad program?

Just as there is no cost to students for textbooks unless lost or damaged, there is no cost to students for the iPad unless lost or damaged. An optional insurance program is available.

How is the iPad initiative being funded?

The Minnetonka School District has a dedicated Technology Referendum Levy which was originally approved by the residents of the District in Fall 2002 for tax collections through 2012. It was renewed and extended in Fall 2007 by the residents of the District for collection through 2017, and in Fall 2015 the Technology Referendum Levy was again renewed and extended by the residents of the District for collection through 2025.

This fund has provided:

  • Smart Boards and sound distribution systems for every classroom in Minnetonka
  • A consistent technology replacement cycle
  • Stable network infrastructure, storage and filtering
  • Increased access to online resources
  • Staff development for effective technology integration throughout our curriculum

Technology dollars do not compete with other school funding for ongoing operations, classroom teachers or classroom supplies. By law, the Technology Referendum dollars can only fund technology and instructional equipment.

I have read articles in some newspapers that indicate the iPad has not shown measurable results for some schools. Why is Minnetonka expanding the program?

Early indications for Minnetonka's pilot showed measurable results with student organization, student achievement (fewer D's and F's), more student collaboration and an increase in the number of formative assessments teachers use to ensure student learning.

Minnetonka is unique in its deployment of the iPad program:

  • Minnetonka is a national leader in using technology to accelerate learning. Since 2002 when Minnetonka installed its first SMART Boards, teachers have been digitizing curriculum and learning materials. Unlike many other schools using iPads, Minnetonka is not relying solely on third-party apps to teach; Minnetonka teachers are relying on Minnetonka curriculum to teach. Teachers continue to post course notes and assignments, which students can download to their iPad, add their own notes, complete assignments and return homework to teachers via the iPad.
  • Minnetonka teachers focus on formative assessments (practice homework and quizzes) to assess student learning throughout a lesson. Research is clear that when teachers use frequent formative assessments, they are better able to gauge student learning, reteach material if needed, or move on if everyone understands. The iPad tools combined with Schoology or Skyward formative assessments allow teachers to more efficiently administer and grade formative assessments, allowing more timely intervention if a student doesn't understand a concept. [watch video explanation]
  • Minnetonka students take the iPad home, just as they would take their textbooks home. The iPad stores their text, homework, teachers notes and all the papers they would normally keep in a folder, all together in one spot. Students can be more organized, and have homework handy anywhere, anytime. [watch video testimonial from students and parents] When students are reading a novel, students can read and take notes directly on the iPad, which also has a built in dictionary and notes summary. [watch video of how to use the iBook for English]

Tool for learning or too much distraction? - YouTube & Games

Technology as a potential distraction is a reality for today’s youth. Minnetonka staff has had many discussions about the need to teach students to use technology responsibly. We want to do that teaching when they are in school, so they are not graduating with bad habits, but instead know how to handle the distractions when they are on their own.

Many school districts use YouTube. Our team discussed the value of YouTube as an instructional tool and the implications of opening YouTube to student users. A decision was made to open YouTube for grade 6-12 students because of the learning opportunities. We believe that creating multimedia presentations to express ideas is a critical 21st-century skill.

In order to build capacity in the use of a new technology, people need to be able to use the tools for both tasks and leisure. There are games on the iPad, such as solitaire, that are free and age appropriate. We believe that there's value to teaching students that there is a time to be on task, and there's a time for relaxation. We want them to learn these important self-discipline skills while under the supervision of parents and teachers, not when their job is on the line as an adult.

It is also important to note that the games available on the iPad are also available on the web, and could be easily accessed by a student on any desktop. It's not really fair to say that because of the iPad, students now have access to games. If students use the Internet or a cell phone, they already had access to games.

Teachers are using a number of strategies to make sure students are engaged and on task while they are in class, but like any other class we need to continue to monitor. We have seen students doodle in electronic ink, just as we see them doodling on paper. But, we see fewer distractions when students have the technology in hand with an engaging lesson than when they are taking notes on a lecture.

Consumption of information on an iPad makes sense, but isn't creating documents too difficult on on the iPad?

Producing content on an iPad may take some practice for some students more than others, while consumption of information is fairly easy. Therefore, students may be more comfortable writing papers or completing homework on a desktop or on paper while they are still practicing writing, typing and note-taking on the iPad. Teachers can work with a variety of formats, but often prefer electronic submissions.

A student is welcome to log into Schoology, download, print and write-out the assignment to hand in the next day. If they want a digital footprint of the assignment, the student could even scan the assignment and email it to the teacher or upload it to Schoology. Electronic submissions protect the student and the teacher from “lost” assignments.

The iPad provides an added convenience of being able to complete an assignment anywhere and at any time if the student so chooses. If the student wants to work on homework in the car, they can do so. If math is not comfortable on the iPad, math can be done at home on a desktop or paper, and perhaps reading the English novel can be done on the iPad when not at home. The iPad is intended to provide more access, but may not be the only tool students use.

Schoology or the iPad, which makes the difference?

Schoology is an important piece of the technology solution in Minnetonka. We have invested 10 years in digitizing our curriculum so that the information is available online. However, in our pilot comparison of test score data and grades, we compared the iPad pilot group (using iPad and Schoology) to the non-iPad group (using only Schoology). This methodology controlled for the influence that Schoology may have had on both groups.

Schoology is a powerful learning tool. With the iPad, student access to Schoology is exponentially higher than students who don’t use the iPad. iPad students can access the lessons at school, keep them open on their iPad during the day, and quickly and easily return to them at home.

Is cheating a problem with the iPad?

Minnetonka teachers, like all teachers, are concerned about cheating and regularly talk about strategies to prevent cheating in all classes. Academic integrity is a top priority.

At this point, mainly formative assessments (homework and practices quizzes) are administered on the iPad. Summative assessments, which account for 85% of the grade, are still mostly administered on paper and pencil, with the exception of English papers which are submitted through Turnitin.com to check for plagiarism.

If students choose to cheat on formative assessments, they're short-changing themselves because then the teacher doesn't know what students need additional help learning. Like an athlete who slacks off in practice yet still wants to play the game, if the skills needed haven’t been developed, the athlete will end up on the bench and learn to take practice more seriously. It is important to remember that formative assessments are academic practice and total only 15% of the overall grade.

How can parents still monitor a student's online behavior, when the iPad can be used anywhere at home?

All Minnetonka School iPads have built-in filtering software blocking access to inappropriate sites regardless of whether the device is at school or off campus. However, children often have complete, unrestricted access to inappropriate sites on other devices such as home computers and personal cell phones. Experts strongly suggest installing software to filter and block inappropriate content on your wireless home network. Some possible filters to consider include OpenDNS (free version available for computers and Wi-Fi) and Curbi or Kajeet for cellphones.

Will the only method of security be a password?

All iPads are bar coded and have asset tags for inventory. We are also encouraging students to personalize their case and have their name on their case. You are welcome to decorate your case for easy identification. Students are also instructed to set up an Apple ID and use the Find My iPhone app. This app helps you locate the missing device on a map, play a sound, display a message, remotely lock the device, or erase all the data on it.

What if students are experiencing technical issues?

Overall, technical issues in the iPad program have been minimal compared to other significant technology implementations. Of the 349 student iPads used during the first semester of the 2011-12 school year, four iPads that needed to be replaced: one with a screen coming apart, one with wi-fi issues preventing connection to the Internet, one shutting down unexpectedly and one with a home button not working. Since then, technical issues have remained minimal even as the amount of student iPads in use has increased greatly.

When technical issues arise, teachers understand and students are not penalized. Teachers do not prohibit students from completing assignments on paper. Media Center staff and classroom teachers are happy to meet individually with you to help troubleshoot technical issues. Occasionally, a student may need to drop off the iPad during the day, but since all work is saved to the cloud, there should be no disruption to accessing work.

An important life-skill for students is to learn to save and back-up work (on a desktop or other device). Using the cloud storage, iPad students specifically back up their work on the iPad into Google Docs. Students have received instruction on this process and teachers remind students the importance of doing so frequently.

As with many types of technology, some technical issues have been beyond our control. For example, in October 2011 Google changed their application programming interface (API) in which immediately affected all applications that integrate with Google, including two iPad apps Minnetonka students used regularly on the iPad. Until the companies that produced these applications released updates that fixed this integration, students were instructed on work-around procedures.