Keeping iPads up to date

I have had many conversations with schools about their iPad 2s and what to do with them as technology advances. It is a fact of life that with the rate that technology is being improved and upgraded, that devices of all types reach a ‘best before date’, and the iPad 2 has had a great run but is showing its age. The following are some of the reasons I recommend having newer iPads in education:

iOS 10 – iPad 2s are not compatible with iOS 10 which means that iPad 2s do not have:

  • Playgrounds – this excellent free app from Apple is great for engaging students in learning coding and learning the syntax code of Swift.
  • Accessibility – new features such as magnifier, colour filters, more options for highlighting content in Speak Selection and more
  • iOS 10.2 will have a fix for the DEC Proxy issue
  • Many apps are no longer updating for older operating systems and fewer will be available over time

Apple Classroom – allowing teachers to guide learning, easily share webpages and iBooks and control students iPads where necessary.  Shared Feature will require 32Gb minimum and is not supported for iPad 2.

Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Smart – many peripheral devices such as the new SPRK+ Spheros and Dash and Dot robots do not work with iPad 2s and need the newer technologies. (I have seen schools who have purchased robotics only to find out they do not work with their iPad 2s!).

AirDrop – this handy file sharing feature is not available on iPad 2s.

As students use iPads more and more to document their learning with digital portfolios and creating multimedia presentations using movies and photos, iPads fill quickly, and the older iPad 2s, many of which are 16Gb are no longer sufficient, especially in a shared iPad environment.

Split-screen – great for multi-tasking (although I would recommend that with iPad Minis it can make the readable screen size too small for some).

NAP – NAPLAN testing will be going online with strict requirements. Currently, iOS 9.3.2 and an iPad 2 are supported, however there has been mention of iOS 10 requirement, and an older iPad 2 that is slower will not be ideal for students. Also note that iPad Minis are currently not supported due to the screen size. Click here for NAPLAN technical requirements. NAP uses a locked-down browser application which locks the iPad to NAP.

Of course, the above does not even touch on improved Retina screen display, more powerful processors, improved battery life, lightning connector adapters, Touch ID (advantageous when you have an iPad projected on a screen to students or an audience, so they do not see you type in the passcode), improved camera quality and more.

Many schools have opted to use iPad 2s with Stage 1 and younger students, where many of the features above are not used and saving the newer iPads for older students, so they can continue using their favourite apps and using iPads for photos and surfing the internet. This can work, but teachers also need to be aware that over time, some apps will no longer be updated, and others will not be available on iPad 2s, which can cause frustration when they can only be used for some things and not all.

There is currently an Apple Retail iPad Trade-Up Program, where you can get money back on working iPad 2s when trading up to newer models. This, I imagine, will not always be available and is a way of saving some money on buying new technology. Contact Apple Business for enquiries, which require you to send in serial numbers etc.

Also important to consider before buying new iPads for your school is how you will manage them. This will become more and more important as schools move from Configurator to MDM models. If you want to be able to use Apple School Manager or an MDM such as Zulu Desk as part of your Deployment solution, you need to have purchased your iPads direct through Apple or an authorised Apple Education Reseller to be enrolled in the Device Enrolment Program (DEP).


Lastly, when buying technology, the newer the technology, the longer the life span as far as compatibility. So consider getting the latest iPad models to give you a longer life.

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