Today we busted out the labelling machines. Every iPad, charger and sync cable got a name tag.

Colophon: we used a Brother P-Touch 1000, 6mm black-on-white tape for the chargers and cables and 12mm white-on-black tape for the iPad case.

I’m not at all convinced that the Apple iPad case provides a good key for most stickers. I’ve tried several stickers on my own iPad and few have survived the rough and tumble of handling, far less the idle fingernails of distracted children. This is a suck it and see experiment. If it fails, we’ll probably re-label but next time stick them right on the iPad’s glass bezel.

What you really want in a classroom situation is a way to identify the owner of an iPad without having to pick up every one of 18 identical iPads and without having to turn them on.

It’s not possible right now, but I’d like to be able to force the iPad to show the device name on the lock screen. All our devices are named after their owners and being able to wake the iPad and read the owner’s name without unlocking the device (maybe not possible since they’re passcoded) would be a good fallback in case the stickers are lost. Apple people: rdar://problem/8318328

I mentioned this a couple of times on Twitter and got a bazillion replies suggesting I set custom lock screen images for each child. Bit of a non-starter for two reasons:

  1. The amount of effort required to make a custom lock screen image, distribute it to each pupil, sync it and then set the lock screen image is prohibitive (especially x115).
  2. You can’t force the lock screen to a particular image and I can guarantee you that the first order of business for most kids will be to set a custom wallpaper and lock screen. Kids love personalising their computer experience and my custom school-logo lock screen would last precisely five minutes.

Requests for apps have started trickling in from the teachers. I’ll collate them all into another post once I’ve been through the list. What’s really exciting to me is the amount of great software that I can put on these devices for free. I continue to have some sustainability concerns about app pricing at these levels but schools do love free stuff.