Using the iPad for check-in

Posted on 23. Aug, 2010 by in Fresh Ideas, Technology

I’ll be the first to admit. Using the iPad for check-in was beyond cool. It’s funny how many of you commented and messaged me for more information about using the iPad for check in. A few weeks ago when I first wrote about the idea of using the iPad for check-in, that post got more hits than anything I’ve written in a long time. I think I know what it is. You really want and iPad, don’t you?

Ha! Well, here is what I posted a few weeks ago along with links and video. This is where it all started. :)

I wasn’t overly creative. I simply copied what they did. I downloaded WinAdmin on my iPad. From there, I ran into problems. When it comes to tech, gadgets and applications, I’m pretty knowledgeable. However, when it comes to networking and connectivity, I’m not your man. I was having network issues, so I had our IT guy get me hooked up. Because our wireless in our Kids lobby is a different network than the actual check-in machines, he had to set up the iPad for VPN. It gave him some trouble at first, but within a few minutes, that was working. He put all the server information in WinAdmin and within minutes, it was working perfectly. I really like the VPN feature which gives me a lot more options.

So this Sunday, we were looking for new 1st graders. We were doing something special for their promotion, so I was checking in families that had a first grader. We had a huge crowd on Sunday and having me on the iPad seemed to help with flow (even though one machine was down becasue that’s the computer I was logged into with the iPad). I was pretty busy, but it was fun and personal. I felt like I had a better connection with both the kids and the parents… I totally liked it. Initially I couldn’t tell overall if it was helpful or not, but the volunteers at check-in said that it helped them tremendously. Big win!

So, my thoughts…

This isn’t an iPad app. It’s more of a hack. You’re using an app to remote desktop into a windows machine and essentially using that machine to check-in kids. As soon as they check-in, the parents can pick up their tags from a volunteer standing by that printer. The downsides are that you have to have a computer that you’re essentially taking control of for check-in. Also, it’s slightly sluggish. Not enough for me to not use it, but not as fast if I was standing at that computer. You see, we’re still using assisted check-in with Fellowship One. Because of our set-up, this was a really nice touch. If we were fully integrated with self check-in, I’m not sure we’d need or want to do the iPad check in. However, it’s certainly worth playing with. I highly recommend you get your hands on an iPad and experiment. Then you’ll know if it’s worth getting one for your ministry.

Although we used this for F1, I don’t see why you can’t use it for other systems as well. Remember, the iPad doesn’t really print, so you’ll essentially have to use a remote desktop app like WinAdmin to take over a computer with a printer. Definitely worth checking out though.

What I’m hoping for? That someone would develop and iPad app that integrates with F1 check-in where this is a feature and not a hack… but for now, this will work.

Meet Kenny

Kenny Conley has written 1891 posts on CMO.

Kenny Conley is the primary author of Childrens Ministry Online and the NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, TX. In addition to creating the Illuminate Conference, a high quality kidmin conference designed specifically for volunteers, Kenny is a published author and speaker. For more biographical info, click here.


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7 Responses to “Using the iPad for check-in”

  1. Matt McKee

    23. Aug, 2010

    I’m hoping that someone develops an app as well that does check in for churches using F1. I think I know a guy. :-)

    Reply to this comment
  2. amy dolan

    23. Aug, 2010

    this is really fantastic! thanks for sharing the details on how you did it, so helpful!

    it makes me think of my experience in the apple store. i love that the apple employees stand next to me and not behind a counter. makes it feel so personal.

    Reply to this comment
  3. J.C.

    23. Aug, 2010

    There is someone doing this with iPads Kenny and they actually have remote printers on their belts to print tags as they walk. It’s pretty crazy!

    I don’t remember if it was F1 or Arena, but basically they have to setup a hotspot and then hook the ipad and printer into it to get it to work. Pretty amazing stuff.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Kenny

    23. Aug, 2010

    Matt, you think you know a guy? Tell him to get on it. :)

    Yes, it feel very Apple-like. There’s something about not having to stand on opposite ends of the counter.

    JC, I’m not going to wear a utility belt. That will take all the coolness out of this.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Sara

    23. Aug, 2010

    If your team is going to start getting up close and personal by standing right by people as they check in, you might want to keep a bowl of breath mints around…you know…just in case someone needs one. :)

    Reply to this comment
  6. ipad kiosk

    27. May, 2011

    This is an excellent article, have you considered a solution like the ipad kiosk developed by spartadata? it would allow your app to run in kiosk mode and also secure the ipads.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Andy_edwards

    29. Aug, 2012

    Hey Kenny,

    I was looking into Easy Check In – an app for checking into events on the iPad. You can also give kids/students a registered QR code after their first time and it will scan them in… Then it syncs all the check ins to database.

    Have you looked into that?

    I’m thinking about it for SC youth :)

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