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Fear & Loathing in Special Education

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But, Hey! They're FREE!

Posted 11-03-2013 at 01:59 PM by Speced9

There's no doubt about it. The iPod is a game changer. I was one of the lucky ones in my school district. I got in early. I got in before the dark times. I got in before THE EMPIRE. (DA, DA, DA, DUM, DE, DA, DUM, DE, DA).

Let me explain. When the iPhone first came out, I was in awe. I've always been a Mac guy. My wife totally surprised me with an iPhone that Christmas. As soon as I started tooling around with that baby, I knew that I had a special education classroom game changer in my hands. Knowing that there were also devices called iPod Touch out there fueled my fire even more. I had to have them for my classroom.

Why? Let me tell you.

1. Cost. How many computers do you think the special education department purchased for me in 15 years of self containment? I'll give you a hint. It's more than -1 and less than 1. $250 is a lot less than $999 at the time.

2. Touch Screen. With my student population, I always had one or two who needed one for a computer to be independent. These were built right in!

3. Independence. Every computer I used in the classroom had to have some kind of simplified user interface in order for my students to use them independently. You couldn't get any more simplified than touching an app icon to open a program and touching a button to close them.

4. Mobility. You can't have Johnny lug an iMac onto the rug in the corner to work quietly. Well, I guess it depends on the size and perseverance of Johnny, but in most cases…..

Now, I'm no dummy. I knew THE POWERS THAT BE weren't going to buy me these newfound classroom, hand-held miracles of education. I had to find a way to get them on my own. Like many, I went the Donor's Choose route and…..wait for it……..died a slow death. Nothing happened. Nada. Crickets. Silence.

Then, the real miracle happened. I like to call it FACEBOOK! That's right, the ol' FB. How does Facebook figure in this? Well, I posted a page how I was trying to get iPods for my classroom. Somewhere along the line, a well known blogger got wind of my page and wrote a blog post about me and my class. In the post, she pointed her readers towards my Donor's Choose page. The rest went by in the blink of an eye.

In three days, I had TWO iPod projects funded. The initial one was funded overnight. The blogger contacted me and urged me to put up another which I did. Two days later, it was funded too. So, in about a week, I had six brand spanking new iPods delivered to my classroom. It doesn't end there though.

I also had private donations beyond that. I had private citizens who donated two iPads to me some time after that. My family and I chipped in as well over the years. When ever we upgraded our iPhones, we've added our old ones to the collection. So, as it stands today, I have six iPods, three old iPhones, two iPads and one iPad ruled by THE EMPIRE (DA, DA, DA, DUM, DE, DA, DUM, DE, DA)


The school year following my introduction into the world of iPods, THE POWERS THAT BE along with our school district joined forces to bring these wondrous new devices to every special educator in the district. Each and every teacher, whether self-contained, or resource-based received their own iPad. Later in the year, self-contained teachers received two more iPads for use with their students. Sounds great, right? Wrong! Did you forget that the EMPIRE is EVIL?(DA, DA, DA, DUM, DE, DA, DUM, DE, DA)

Here's definition of EVIL when it comes to iPods:

1. Give teachers absolutely no control over the devices they use in their own classrooms. If they want a specific app on their iPods, they must submit a request to their supervisor. Yada, yada, yada, one month later, you might have the app. More likely, you'll be told that there "isn't money available".

2. Instead of letting the teachers use their own money, Apple IDs and iTune accounts to buy apps for their devices, make them use a district SYNC STATION (i.e. DEATH STAR) to update/select apps from. Instead of buying quality apps for the DEATH STAR, er….SYNC STATION, fill it with free apps.

free apps \ˈfrē\ \ˈaps\ noun
1. crappy programs for iPods usually containing a plethora of ads, one-sixteenth of the full version of the original app, and subpar educational value.
2. But, hey!They're FREE!

What we end up with here is $250/$500 toys for our students to play with. Educational value=ZERO. There really are great apps out there to use. I know. I've purchased them all myself and they're on my devices. Other teachers borrow them all the time. We tell the higher ups how great they are and they look at us like we have lobsters coming out of our ears because THEY'RE NOT FREE (translation: they don't suck)

What amazes me is that THE POWERS THAT BE could spend thousands of dollars on iPods and iPads then throw their noses in the air when it comes to 99¢ apps. There is a rebellion though. Trouble is, there's only one guy in it. That'd be me. I know what you're thinking.


Sorry, no can do. I have a greater EVIL to deal with this year.
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