Collecting iPads at the End of the Year

After a year of utilizing iPads in the classroom, exploring students’ potential using technology, discovering new apps and new assessments strategies, and marveling at the creativity of kids of all ages, the school was left with one final, tricky, and massive iPad challenge: collecting all ~300 student iPads.

This challenge was compounded by the fact that we had to collect them AFTER exams were over, but BEFORE the kids left for the summer. Add in the students that exempted, eighth grade graduation being the day before exam make-up day, and several teachers being unsure of some of the collection requirements, and you have quite a dilemma on your hands. Here is how we approached it…

We kept in mind the following while planning the collection:

  • Middle school students will need iPads to study for exams, so collection will have to be after exams.
  • However, some students exempt exams.
  • ~300 iPads, covers, chargers, AppleID’s (and so on) are too many for a small group of volunteers/teachers to collect at once (like at a dedicated table in the hallway or gym, for example). We would have to do it by homeroom.
  • Not all teachers are tech-savvy enough for a complicated collection procedure.
  • Some students will have outdated or nonexistent iCloud backups and starting multiple backups on the school WiFi requires a lot of bandwidth, time, and empty electrical sockets (for charging while backing up).

So we had to keep the checklist simple and straightforward, we had to choose a few lead teachers to act as mentors to the teachers that didn’t understand all the steps to the procedure, and we had to announce the collection and the requirements to the students in advance so they could start the process ahead of collection day.

Here is the document that we used for each and every iPad that was collected (I’ll run through it and then post a link to the PDF of this checklist at the end of this blog post):

It includes the following items (filled out by the homeroom teacher using good, legible, non-cursive handwriting):

  • Full name of student
  • Homeroom teacher for the past year
  • AppleID associated with the iCloud backup
  • Password for that AppleID
  • A space for a second AppleID and password for students that have a separate login for the App Store (IE: a family account or a parent’s log-in)
  • A checklist of critical settings and items (all students need all items checked off before handing in their iPad): cover, charger, sticker/name tag on the cover, child’s name in the “About” section of Settings, lock screen passcode turned off, parental restrictions turned off, iCloud backup turned on and completed recently, and finally the entire iPad turned completely off (NOT in sleep mode).
  • A place to mark any damage to the iPad itself
  • A place to mark any damage to the cover (if your school provided one)

This checklist covered pretty much everything. Every iPad is handed in with a completed copy of this checklist. So here is the step-by-step procedure we used for the collection:

  1. Email all teachers a copy of the checklist a week or two before collection day so they can look it over.
  2. Run through the checklist at a faculty meeting and assign tech-savvy lead teachers to help their peers who require some extra guidance.
  3. If using Meraki (or other monitoring software) to force students to have a lock screen passcode, make sure to turn this requirement off before beginning this process.
  4. Have teachers run through the list with students a day or two in advance so they can do a few initial steps on their own (iCloud backup, turn off passcodes and restrictions, charge the iPad).
  5. If students forget to have their parents remove the parental restrictions, be sure to contact those parents and get the passcode from them so you can remove them yourself.
  6. The teacher must then collect iPads as soon as possible or convenient: if students are exempt from exams, get them before they leave. For the rest of students, get them right after exams are over but before summer begins. Be wary of students that might be skipping the last day or two of school; you’ll need to get their iPads in advance.
  7. It is very important that a teacher runs through the list with the students. Do not trust students to do all the steps on their own or to even understand some of the steps. Also, their handwriting could potentially be illegible. I did it during the second-to-last day of school while my students were watching a movie and cleaning out their desks.
  8. Make sure you do NOT collect on the last day of school because many students will forget their chargers or will not have completed a backup in time. Give them at least one extra day after the collection when they can bring in forgotten chargers or whatever else. Otherwise, the parents will have to stop by during summer office hours!
  9. The biggest problem will be the iCloud backups. When I collected my students’ iPads, there were at least 8 that had not backed up in months. Many of them were using up all their space with games and large pointless video files. The fastest way to clear up space is delete old videos from the camera roll, delete any old backups filling up space in the iCloud storage (sometimes duplicates appear if students had their iPad replaced due to a broken screen), and turn off the backup for any games (especially Minecraft). I plugged in all the iPads that needed backups and started the process simultaneously on all of them, but it took several hours for some of them to complete.
  10. Make sure you tape the checklist to each iPad.
  11. We then had all the teachers move the iPads into a secure location with enough space for all ~300 units. We put them into piles by homeroom organized with “okay”, “broken screen”, and “broken cover” (pictured at the top of this post).
  12. The students with missing iPads once school ended had their names submitted to the administration, who then proceeded to contact parents to ensure we received those iPads ASAP. Any lost iPads would require compensation for the unit, but our school did not have a single lost iPad at the end of the year.

I know this post is a little late for schools to use this year, but hopefully this information can help your school next year. I wanted to wait on this post until after we had completed our collection so I could provide an accurate assessment of how effective our process was. Follow the steps in this guide and you should be good to go.

You can find a PDF copy of that checklist HERE.


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