Every time I see on the nightly news that a local school district is deploying a large number of iPads, it makes me think about the lure of the bin of shiny balls in the toy and hobby shop I worked at as a teenager. I often wonder, is this iPad deployment carefully thought out or is that deployment going to wind up back in the bin with the other well intended shiny balls
So what does a bin of shiny balls in a toy store have to do with tablet deployments in a school district? Well cool tech gadgets have a very similiar lure as the shiny balls in the bin. With enough and the right marketing, the gadgets begin to shine brightly to the point they can blind the most well intended into thinking they must need it over the technology or gadget they are presently using. But the problem lies in not knowing and recognizing that the lure of the shine could be both incorrectly directed and brief.
Sure an iPad deployment in 2011 may get you on the local nightly news, an article in the paper and a bunch of PR at a board meeting. But in the end if the tablets are underutilized or the wrong solution to the problem, you will be doing the equivalent of throwing the shiny ball back into the bin and walking away.
Are you deploying tablets on a large scale this school year or just at the pilot stage? I like to hear about the apps you plan to run, if your deployment ran into the shiny ball syndrome and any of the other issues you had to address to make your deployment efficient and a success.