Why recommend the iPad for schools?

ocKids-iPadThis blog is nearly 2 years old and I thought it was time to revisit the reason for its existence. I am still teaching 11 to 18 year-olds everyday in BYOD classrooms (not iPad only) and can claim a significant experience in the various pros and cons of all types and brands of devices. When I’m considering which students are supported the most in their learning by their device, I still conclude the iPad and its eco-system is my recommendation for handling the full breadth of activities and opportunities undertaken in 21st century schools.

I do appreciate that during the last 4 and a half years it has become fashionable in education to proclaim “the device doesn’t matter” but each week I experience a at least one moment where it does.

10 Reasons why I still recommend iPad

Issues 1 – 5  – Tablet format over Laptop

  1. Filming
    filming-iPadThe first one is easy and takes into account that an individual learner’s ability to film and edit, either to learn or reflect on learning is such a important tool these days that the device must be able to be used as such. Young people live their lives through instant access and ability to take photos and videos on the move. This is where my students on laptops and Chromebooks are left stranded at their desk. Photo Credit
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  2. Active learning
    outsideIt’s not only the resulting photos and films that come from tablet devices but that the learners can be on the move so easily during the process of learning. This extra flexibility that the tablet format offers my students allows them to move from inside to outside as they need, often on the spur of the moment . My students work outside for both the sake of the project requirements and/or that of just comfort. It’s often highlighted that if a learner’s not comfortable, they wont learn.  Photo Credit
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  3. Touch
    drum machineWho said you can’t teach both programming and digital citizenship with drum machines? I do. Be it a sliding control, a drum pad or an paint effect, the learning opportunities that touch offers far outweigh any outdated argument that young people can’t comfortably type vast amounts of text by tapping the screen. After all, they tap 30,000 words per year into Facebook alone, mostly on the phone! Touch offers a much more connected, real & enjoyable experience during activities. It often removes from the mind the fact that tech is even involved in the process.
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  4. Tilt & Flexibility
    spiritThe iPads ability to physically replicate so many tools in the hand, such as a spirit level, microphone, test tube, moving paint, bouncing ball and any number of physics experiments, never mind the wow factor of green screening on the move also means the laptop student is left to imagine and not experiencewhat physical effect one thing might have on another.
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  5. Augmented Reality (AR)
    iPad-ARAR is already becoming a major feature in education and iPads have made a great start with a a number of great apps and systems like Aurasma and Layar. To make the most of these systems and also create your own, you need a device that can be held on the move. This has become a major part of my arguments for iPads over laptops. Photo Credit
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Issues 6 – 10 – iOS, Apps, eco-system  & learning opportunities

  1. Technology for all.
    6228914346_a84141e62d_qApple has always maintained the same philosophy. “We want you to be you, whilst we worry about the tech.” You may have read my many posts on kids’ programming and think I’m one of those extra-techie types but I have a strong argument for the fact that most people are ‘normal’ and not interested in how it all works. They want to get on being the artist, author or scientist they’d like to be. I have found my non-iPadding students having to do far too much research into if an equivalent app is available or which plugin they require to carry out a task. This slows down to learning process, causes frustration and has many of my students leaving their device in their bag and pairing up with an iPadder. Yes, Apple’s walled garden of a system frustrates geek types, but for the huge majority it means immediate productivity. Photo Credit
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  2. Advanced App store with education focus
    app store edThe average teacher and student needs as much support as can be made available when introducing or keeping up-to-date with using their devices to learn. Apple has always led the way with providing this support for education, highlighted by their organised, categorised educational app store. iTunesU has also become a major educational system for many schools and allows for the easy management of content whilst developing student driven programmes. iPads have the advantage of being the primary educational choice and in-turn have the educational app developers investing more time and money into serving schools on iOS.
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  3. Kid friendly code learning
    hopscotch screenYou may already know me as a supporter for kids learning to code. There is an international push to have all students learning this craft that forms such a central part of everyone’s lives these days. You can code on both Android and Windows 8 but only in it’s full advanced code form. If elementary / primary school kids want to learn how computers think and how code works, the iPad is still the only tablet offering apps, such as Hopscotch to learn how code works and has many on offer.
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  4. Teachers supporting teachers support Students supporting students.
    ipad-helpUnfortunately for the other companies, most teachers I’ve met and know have an iPad (except the really geeky ones). When it comes to professional development, teachers prefer to receive ideas and recommendations from other teachers. This has led to a much stronger knowledge base in how to get things done on iPads than that of other devices. In Education websites, blogs and in professional social-media chats, the dialogue around tablet use will be centred on what’s available for iPad and someone venturing out on this road will find the transition far more easy if holding an iOS device. Photo credit
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  5. Technical Management for Schools
    iphone_configuration_utilityNot my favourite topic, but for elementary / primary schools, non-BYOD and any school wanting more control over devices, apps and multi-seat licensing, Apple has now produced a suite of management tools that make this easy. I wont go into too much detail but check out the MDM and iOS8 pages for more info. The competition is far behind in this area, especially in offering educational multi-seat licensing for those apps you want every student to have.

 

Extra thought – Google Account is a must.

I thought I’d just add that in addition to the iPad, I do still recommend a Google account. The cloud-based document sharing eco-system that Google provide, along with Youtube makes it a must for handling the bulk of traditional documentation, whilst adding the sharing and collaboration tools. The Youtube is also a must of offloading the iPad video content. It’s just a shame that Google went with the business model when designing their Chromebook device, meaning people would require a 2nd camera device to carryout truly active 21st Century education.

 ocKids2-ipad

Conclusion

I write this from years of personal experience and yes, I know that there will be thousands out there who know one of the other systems inside out and will argue that it’s just as easy and flexible on the other platforms. My experiences tell me that the key difference is the amount of technical information required to setup quickly to learn on the other platforms. This takes time that many teachers & students are not willing to invest.

One issue I’ve noticed is that where elementary / primary schools are more likely to be flexible, innovative learning environments, as students enter high school, teachers, concerned with what seems like a long list of content to get through, are more likely to be demanding lengthy written work after hours of lectures. This drives them away from considering the iPad as the appropriate device. I would ask those teachers to take a real look at how the world and especially the young people in their classroom go about their lives. Look at how collaborative, active & flexible we all are these days and consider how your content could be accessed and processed rather than delivered and simple duplicated by the students.

For me, the iPad is still the device to get. It’s not just about business tools and apps, it’s about learning and this is still the are where Apple leads in tech. Education needs it easy and the iPad just works!

 

 

 

 

 

iPad Responsible Use

POLICY FOR THE VISUAL LEARNER

My school had a list of responsibilities in regards to using iPads in school.  So I set about producing a visual version and recently tweeted it to a Tweep friend. The Tweet was popular and got a number of RTs. So I’ve re-titled the slides for general use and here’s the full PDF version you might want to use in your school.

Click image for separate slides PDF file.

iPadWells Responsible Use

Teachers who just got iPads

83006d6bd421cf420a2fd1aa1e0329eeI had the privilege of holding a Google Hangout with Holly Clark (@HollyEdTEchDiva) and Tanya Avrith (@EdTechSchools). It was a great chat, where we compared US, NZ and Canadian school systems. Afterwards I was checking out Holly’s stuff and came across her great introduction to iPads in Classrooms. I checked with Holly and she was keen I do one of my visual representations of the ideas. So here it is, my visual, albeit briefer introduction for teachers who just got iPads:

Holly Clark
EdTechTeacher.org

9 Starter Tips for Teachers Who Just Got iPads
PNG (No links – 1mb)   PDF (Links – 2mb)

Teachers New to iPads

Apple TV in Schools

appletv_smallsizeApple TV (US$99) is a box you attach to the projector / TV that picks up the screen of any iPad and displays it without the need for wires! The teacher can walk around their room and display anything that’s on their iPad screen on the Projector/TV. This means the teacher can display from anywhere and even use the iPads camera to show student work ‘live’ without gathering students around one point in the room

I have recently been setting up Apple TV in my classroom and know that many teachers will be having the problems with Apple TVs on networks that are setup with the type of security and extra stuff that one gets on a corporate style network.

Particularly in secondary schools, your ‘techies’ will be using all these silly techie acronyms like “VLANS” and “IP-ROUTING” and “APs”, so ignore them and read this, which I hope to be more ‘teacher-friendly’ (something many techies aren’t!)
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Apple TV setup

STEP 1: Connecting the Apple TV box to your projector / TV. 

vga-hdmi-convertBeing all ‘up-to-date’, Apple has only added an HDMI port to the box. That’s fine if you have a modern flat-screen TV as it will probably have an HDMI port on the back. Most school projectors however, only have the older VGA port, like the ones we’ve always had on our Windows laptops (sometimes blue in colour). Apple’s store provides a converter HERE.

For future decision making, I would recommend only purchasing 50″ plasma TVs and not projectors as they work without darkening the room, they last longer without replacing bulbs plus require less cabling setup. This lowers future costs and makes the Apple TV setup cheaper than the alternatives.

STEP 2: Putting the Apple TV onto the same network your iPads use.

configiconIf you have a simple open network that any device can join with a password then you can follow the instructions the Apple TV gives you on the TV screen. But most schools use corporate secure networks with proxy servers for internet. This means that the school network info needs to be loaded onto the Apple TV (a little trickier). On a Mac (either the schools or a borrowed one) you can get an App from the MAc app store called “Apple Configurator”. It’s used for setting up both Apple TVs and iPads in bulk.

The idea is that you setup a ‘profile’ for the Apple TV to store your network’s settings. When using configurator to design you profile the main 2 screens to worry about are 1. WIFI & 2. Certificate (See below). Here’s Apple’s Configurator’s help page

The WIFI page of a profile holds the basic name of the network and any login info the Apple TV box will need to join the network. You might need to get some info from a techie (smile and ask nicely!)

wifi config

The ‘certificate’ page is where you need to give a file to the Apple TV box to say the network and Apple TV are following the same ‘rules’ when talking. This part is the trickiest. On the mac, join the wireless network and you will get the Certificate file. To find the file you can use the Mac’s Keychain Access (1 use Spotlight to find that!) and search for the wireless name (2). See pic below.

cert find

Once you have added the network info and the certificate to the Apple TV profile, you need to ‘Prepare’ the Apple TV with this profile. To do this you use the USB cable port that’s on the back of the Apple TV. It uses the same cable as many cameras use. Once the profile is on the Apple TV and it’s restarted it should join the Network.

Apple Tvs are best on a network cable

Apple TVs work best if the Apple TV box is not actually using the Wireless but is on the network using the network Cable (ethernet). As long as the techie allocates the port in the wall to the same network as the wireless then you half the pressure on the wireless in the room but the iPads can still see the Apple TV box. The ethernet cables are that Yellow/Red/Blue cable the computers sometimes use for network.

3. Sending your iPad’s screen to the Apple TV
apple-homescreen-1

1. Make sure you can see the Apple TVs ‘Home screen’ on the TV or Projector first. (See pic)
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airplay

2. As long as the wireless is strong enough, a Double tap of the iPad’s Home button will bring up the Apps across the bottom (Where you might normally class apps or switch between them). A swipe to the left will send you to the Volume / Brightness settings and also the AIRPLAY options (If the Apple TV is on the network – see pic).

3. You need to switch “Mirroring” on and the iPad’s screen should appear on the TV / Projector.

4. With a really good wireless, even a movie’s sound playing on the iPad will play through the TV as if you had a DVD playing!

SUMMARY

I can’t guarantee that following this info will mean you don’t have other problems with setting up Apple TV on a corporate style network but it might help, so here’s that Apple’s Configurator’s help page again! I’ve had issues myself, particularly with the network being shared by so many devices and setting it up so the Apple TV is not fighting too many other students for access to the Wireless box (Access point). This might take a little classroom management and getting kids to turn wireless off on the iPads for a minute or 2. All I can say is Good luck and let me know if you are successful / or if I have approached it wrong and you have an easier way!

Dynamic School Documents

I started thinking about the amount of time I was spending on dealing with files, their types and their availability online. I was being sent Microsoft Word Docs, converting them to Pages, exporting a PDFs and uploading them to websites and the school Learning Management System (LMS).

Problem 1: Managing the availability of your documents and worksheets online can be time consuming and difficult when allowing for  iPad access.

Problem 2: Teachers emailing files to each other for checking and updating and then collating the result is also time consuming.

Problem 3: Re-printing or uploading revisions to worksheets and docs and deleting old copies is annoying too.

Solution? Using a central department or school Google account, I can operate and organise permanent, online dynamic Docs as the standard for the school / department files. From my Google ‘Drive’, Students can download PDF versions for working on in any of the iPad PDF apps. Multiple Teachers can access and update the single copy of any file knowing the existing links to these will access the latest version. No more work is required in updating and uploading new files as the links point to the same live document in Google Drive.

My staff have seen many benefits in the first month and started working much more collaboratively. Here’s a diagram to explain the features and setup.

Dynamic School Doc links

Ensuring school iPad success

PRIORITY NO.1 : LEADERSHIP FROM THE TOP.

LeadershipDucks

The initial goal is to ready a school for the quick iPadding of all daily school tasks carried out by Teachers, Admin and students. The first emphasis must be to get staff and students to move their daily routines onto the iPad and not look back. This realignment will only be quick & successful if staff and particularly members of the leadership team understand iPad best practice.

BIG DECIDER: ONE COMPETENT SENIOR LEADER (AT LEAST)

In the beginning, at least one senior leader must become fully fluent in how the iPad deals with the daily school tasks. My experience to date tells me that this will be the key decider on iPad success. I find that most school technicians charged with readying school systems for iPads only ‘fully respond’ to senior leaders. Here’s a check list of good iPad practice the senior leaders must understand:

5 EVERYDAY iPAD ESSENTIALS THAT LEADERS MUST UNDERSTAND AND PROMOTE:

PDFexpertA) DOCUMENTS: How to convert and ensure all documents (forms/worksheets) are shared in PDF format. This includes on the Website, LMS and in shared folders on the servers. We all use apps like Word to create documents but once finished, Word/Pages/Powerpoint should not be the file formats that are shared publicly or internally. Don’t continue to think that because a form or worksheet must be filled in, it needs to be shared in Microsoft Word format. Most PDF apps (both Free and Bought) will allow the staff and students to view, complete, sign or annotate the forms & worksheets and will really start to make the school paperless (a serious ‘Green’ issue). One problem area will be uploading PDFs to the existing school websites / LMS directly from iPad. Some of the LMSs are creating iPad apps and this can help but without clever design, the website might need to continue with desktop updates.

iMessageAppB) COMMUNICATION: Email is dead! Students certainly don’t regularly check emails. New communication tools must be considered. Internally, it’s best using messaging tools like iMessage, your LMS’s messaging service, if its iPad app runs such a service or even Twitter. I find adults like ‘texting’ messages as much as the kids do, you only have to look at Facebook to know that. Externally, the school should also run a Facebook Page for people to follow for community announcements and this too can be run by the senior leader directly from the iPad. It might be with the best intentions that every school aims to run a good website, but for communication, parents rarely check school websites and it’s not the way 21st Century communication takes place. This is one reason iPads have never needed the facility to update website HTML.

PhotosAppC) IMAGES: The leadership must decide on how staff iPads will upload, store and organise photos. This is good for teachers as they can share pictures with students directly from the iPad and good for all staff to share images of student work and activity. Using online services like Flickr or Google’s Picasa, there are ways to ensure images can be uploaded and organised by staff iPads to appear embedded on the school websites etc, without the need for separate login. (See my previous posts)

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YoutubeD) VIDEO: This is quickly becoming the new ‘paper’. Young people are experiencing online video as a first step to understanding anything. They also create multiple videos using devices like phones on a weekly basis. If harnessed, this can make any school a lively exciting place where students really show-off their understanding and even start to learn and leach each other through video. The school must have an official system for staff to organise the videos for the courses and where the school can showcase student video work. The one system that the iPad and all the available apps work seamlessly with is a Youtube account. The school should setup a Google account from which it can organise its Youtube channel with playlists for different courses, classes or general school activities. Students and staff can now login or be logged-in to upload video content to the channel. This channel can be embedded in school websites etc, and will automatically update as the content arrives.

wordpressE) LEADERSHIP BLOG & ADVICE: This is a great idea to ensure genuine engagement from all staff and students. A senior leader blogs the schools experiences and advice on using iPads from day 1. This blog is linked to on the school website and can be used by the whole community to find out the latest news in how the school is operating with iPads, including any problems that have arisen. A school “How-to” page is also setup to cover all the basics.

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If you can get your school performing the daily basics on iPads, the creative stuff will follow naturally. The more they stick to their old ways, the harder the transition will be. Success and collaboration between members of the iPadding community rely on full understanding and engagement from all parties. And this starts with the basics and from the top!

[Update] Other Considerations:

1. Don’t waste time looking through the App Store. Focus on tasks. Start with only considering all the daily tasks within the school for students, teachers and admin and focus on collaborative systems like Google Accounts and Twitter to bring the new iPadders together.

2. Ensure that all the departments have the basics mentioned above working before you worry about adding extras. The first issue is about building confidence and when staff & students see they can at least do all that they did before but better, the project will really take-off.

3. Get the whole senior leadership team fully immersed by the end of the first year. This will build respect for both the individuals and the project. The school will really come alive if the community see the leaders themselves start moving forward.

4. Build an open approach to web filtering. Like all major businesses, 1000s of schools are now using Social Media and Youtube in the classroom. Other than blocking the ‘obvious’ negative material, it is important that schools are able to teach digital citizenship within school and this requires positive role-modeling in how the internet can be used.

School resources with Mac’s Pages.

The most common question I get on Twitter is “How do you create your graphics?”

The answer is: lots of practice with Pages / Keynote, both having the same tools. These tools are much more useful and intuitive than those in either Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. I’ve recorded this 20 minute video (did it quickly for a colleague, so sorry if I don’t perform particularly well!)

Kids have higher expectations these days and now that they can view my worksheets and docs electronically, full colour and design is not the issue it was when considering photocopying.

The video runs through the usual key tools I use to gloss up school worksheets etc, which are also the tools I use for the graphics.

These include:

  1. Image Cropping / Colourising / rotating / transparency / wrapping
  2. Text columns / styles / sizing / wrapping
  3. Table styling / sizing / settings
  4. Graphs styles / setting / data

Please contact me with any further questions:

How to organise an iPadded Department.

NUTSHELL_Dept_iPads

I recently became head of a large enough department that centrally organising media and resources as a department has become more important. It’s also nice as the manager to see this organised media to get an overview of what’s being taught. The starting point is to setup a department Google (gmail) account. This account then operates many systems for sharing files, videos and pictures. All the staff can then permanently log in to several apps and systems and load, share and view the department files at the touch of a button.

app-flickrFlickr allows the Google login and offers brilliant editing and organising tools for photos. The album sets can be used for either courses or topics. They can then be embeded in your school LMS systems or any website as a slideshow. I run a weekly update on a class’s project work by simply taking the photos of work with my iPad and uploading them into the existing course album, knowing they will appear in the schools Website/LMS. This is a great solution of your school systems don’t do iPad uploading particularly successfully. Because the uploading is easy, staff are more willing to do it and:

A) The HOD gets a regular update of activity.

B) Student work is showcased more often

C) Marketing the courses becomes much easier.

YouTube-for-iOS-app-icon-full-sizeYoutube is well known but with all my department’s iPads permanently logged into by all teaching staff, videos of student work, video lessons, and course playlists start to appear much more readily. The iPad’s camera, iMovie and most other video apps will stay logged in and upload immediately, including Explain Everything (Whiteboard App). See my Help Docs like this one or this one to get more setup information.

dropbox_iconMany school servers are difficult to access from iPads and sharing files across the department without lots of emails is challenging. Dropbox is a solution that works well on iPads and shared folders are easy to setup and free. Using the Department Gmail account you can setup a free department Dropbox account and use it to share folders will all the department staff’s own dropboxes. This makes sharing any type of file between iPads much easier as the department folders appear in everyone’s dropbox and nearly all apps will send material and files to the Dropbox app to share with the department.

Google-Drive-iPad-Icon_thumbShared documents for group editing. The creation of Department policy docs, for example, is often a shared duty for a number of department members. With the same Department Google account, you are offered Google Docs (Online Office apps). The new Google Drive app now edits Google Docs and Spreadsheets on the iPad. This is also good form recording Meeting minutes and agendas.

iPad vs. iPad mini

20121129-190527.jpg

As a lover of the iPad, it is very difficult for me to admit that purchasing the iPad mini has made me think it’s the size the iPad should have been in the first place. I’ve now been using my iPad mini for a week and it simply makes so much more sense as a proper mobile device. The apps are the same and the feel is the same, it’s just half the weight and much more portable in your handbag, not that I have one!

In landscape view, the iPad’s keyboard feels pretty much the same size and with a condensed screen of the same resolution the pictures and various things are much crisper. The original full-sized iPads with a case around them were virtually the same weight as a small coffee table book. The new iPad mini really feels like a normal book in your hand and you look a lot more normal in public when reading.

As an upgrade from my iPad 2, the extra features in these new devices have been very useful already. For example, this entire blog post has been dictated to the new microphone dictation feature on the keyboard. This new feature makes very few mistakes and has been very useful in churning out large pieces of writing. It has also been very nice finally having a proper camera, with all 5 megapixels. I would say that not having the Retina screen is actually a benefit as it increases the relative power of the iPad with its new A5 processor not having to process all those extra pixels. To be honest, looking at photos and films seems the same to me.

I find that with creative apps the workspace or paper can be zoomed in on and so haven’t really noticed any difference having a smaller screen. You do have to be slightly more careful when making clicks on webpages but again you can zoom to solve this problem.

Everybody I have handed it to to have a play with has immediately said they want one and would swap it their full-sized iPad. I also feel that students, particularly at primary school, will prefer the size. I have always felt that primary school children would struggle long term, working continuously with a full sized iPad, due to its weight.

Just one negative
A smaller size means a slightly weaker wireless pickup and your school will need a good wireless coverage for it to receive full signal. Saying that, I’ve not had any problem in my school or in cafes. I’ve just noticed that I generally have two bars on my wireless icon rather than my usual three.

The iPad mini is still an iPad, just more portable, flexible and less intrusive in the classroom. I thought the iPad was the perfect student accessory but the iPad mini has proved me wrong.

Summary

  • Feels more natural to hold
  • Better cameras
  • Even less intrusive in the classroom
  • Better for reading
  • Dictation and Siri
  • Less weight means less RSI issues

One extra great experience was the complete iCloud backup transfer from one iPad to the other – Amazing! All apps, files, data and settings – all over wireless at school. I love Apple!

iPad vs. BYOD

Yes, we are at the beginning of a revolution in Education. Yes, we have witnessed the world going mobile and yes, there is a variety of tools available to help us make learning mobile and personal.

But…

Most of the teachers around the world getting excited about this and offering advice (like me) are tech-savvy people. We have already had a play with many devices, we blog and Tweet all day, researching the best practice around the world. We are comfortable with the differences and know how those differences in features and software might affect a lesson. We also know that BYOD stands for “Bring Your Own Device!”
But “we” account for 5% of teaching staff in the world! (That’s based on at least 10 schools I know in NZ and the UK)

So…

Until the vast majority of the teaching profession are aware of what opportunities students would have with one device over another (at least 5 years), the decision a school makes must guarantee simplicity for the non-technical majority. The decision a school makes must also ensure there’s a strong, easily accessible support system and that getting what you need is straight-forward. This keeps everything simple for a non-tech-savvy teacher and offers comfort in knowing what is and isn’t possible when assessing the students output. The idea of one student saying “I can do this” and another saying “I can’t” is simply not equitable and makes things difficult for “normal” teachers. This leads us to another question:

Why should it be iPad and not one of the others?

The devices are all the same! They all:

  1. have a camera;
  2. have a screen;
  3. can ‘Skype’
  4. access the Internet
  5. do office-style documents

So why iPad?

I think I can answer that in pictures rather than words.

Here is a major section of Apple’s App Store available through the iPad directly focused on the key learning areas, not available on any other system.

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Here’s a separate area of the App Store dedicated to various subjects and special educational areas including a full section for Special Needs education.

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Here’s the Apple website section on education, with iTunesU offering 1000s of courses from every major University. Again, there’s a focus on the benefits of considering special Accessibility options and how they can actually benefit all teachers and students. Through iBooks, you receive both fiction and textbooks, how-to guides and the ability to produce your own multimedia iBooks using iBooks Author on a Mac. This Mac software is free but the absolute leader in ebook authoring software. (iBook is just Apple’s name for eBooks)

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The rival support systems just don’t compare, especially in the eyes of a non-geek teacher.

Android.com offers no education section but does specialise in games.
What is Open Source? Some of the geeky teachers might use ‘Open source’ as some sort of argument when choosing a device. This is where Google offer the code for how a device works to the world of geeky programmers and they can do whatever the like with it. This sounds good, but for schools, it means little. It makes the Android system more buggy and prone to viruses and crashing. These issues destroy both lessons and confidence amongst a generation of teachers trying to grapple with new learning pedagogies.

Google Play’s site (The main Android site) does not place it’s education section on the home page and when you find it in ‘Categories’ it only divided into Free and Paid with no focus on the various needs within education. Most apps in this section are early-childhood based and you have to scroll though page after page to discover what’s available. Not good for a teacher who’s new to this game.

Conclusion

You see, it’s not about the device it’s about the support system you can connect to and how much that system is designed for education. In this regard, Apple is the only company doing anything specifically for schools. Google and Microsoft continue to focus their efforts on business needs and hope that schools find a use for their business tools. A school near me had a technician who was adamant that it be BYOD rather than just iPad. 4 months into the programme, he was preparing advice documents for the following year to say iPads only!

Future
There’s also the matter of statistics and future developments. iPads have been bought by schools and universities in their millions! There are at least 50 iPads in education for every competing tablet of any make , and given the conferences I’ve been to, that’s probably generous to the “others”. The competition is eating into the iPad market but not in education. What does this mean to schools? We can support each other through this tricky transitional period in education’s history, if we are all on the same platform. The developers, who make the apps with an educational focus and offer the support for schools are nearly all iPad based. Over the next 5 years, the gap between what can be done in schools with iPads and their alternatives will increase exponentially and this makes iPads the only truly sensible choice for any school of ‘normal’ staff and students.

P.S.

Oh and the Flash thing. Yes, iPads don’t play all those Flash based educational websites but Adobe, who make Flash have stopped making it! and so the next 2 years will have every website moving away from flash (they’ve already started.) So Flash is no longer an argument and the new Windows 8 Tablets will not play it either. The reason it all came to a crashing end was because Flash running in the background on the mobile device swallows up battery life. Something Apple were the first to recognise and never went near it. The other companies are now realising. Adobe’s given up.