Android or iOS and Mobile Learning Philosophy

Twice today I found myself writing an email that felt like a blog post – and both were related to what mobile devices to choose and how best to use them. A friend asked whether he should purchase an iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S3 for his next phone, and here is a slightly edited version of my response:

If you’ve already got iOS or Android, that would be a major factor, especially if you’ve invested in a lot of apps. You’ll probably want to stick with what you own and know.

Other than that, the super short answer is this: I’ve had an iPhone since the original (and have a significant investment in apps, especially for my boys, ages 4 and 2) but I’ve just switched to Android. I bought the Galaxy Nexus just a few months ago, but just purchased a Nexus 4 today to replace it. That would be my recommended phone – it’s not quite so large as the S3 (a bonus in my book), and coming directly from Google it has (and will get) the latest updates first.

That being said, the main advantage of iOS now is the app library (but only barely). The selection of good apps for toddlers is much better on iOS, but everything I want for myself (and older students) is available on Android. If you have a Mac, iOS would also be an advantage for how well it’s integrated, but I also just ditched my Mac for a Linux Ultrabook so Android works out well, especially with the Ubuntu One cloud service.

The main advantages of Android are tight integration (and single sign on) with Google tools, and of course the variety and choice of hardware and software, especially because it’s open source. There are more and more small things I like about the UI as well, but ultimately the cutting edge phones are very equivalent right now.

Another colleague recently received a set of Nexus 10 Tablets from Google… but she has always taught with iOS devices. She was asking for some guidance and I wound up writing this (again, it’s slightly edited here):

For me, there are three overarching themes to focus on. The first is getting the devices into the hands of kids so they can search (in support of inquiry-driven learning, ideally for project’s they’re passionate about) – incidentally, the built in search App can use audio and images in addition to text searches. Teaching students good search strategies is key here, of course. The second focus is empowering students to collaborate – and all of the mobile versions of Google Apps are great for this, especially Google Drive. The single sign on with Google across all apps on the device is awesome – particularly if each kid has a device (or you have a specific account associated with the device). The third focus is to empower students to create (just as you would on an iPad) with image, audio, and video editing programs – there are many. The curricular apps are a far distant fourth priority in my mind – and the web will beat them for content and flexibility most of the time. I’m a fan of the open-ended tools, and Android is a great platform for that. So you can spend time searching the Play Store for other specific apps (many iOS apps are also there – or else there are equivalents), but I’d recommend focusing on these three things first – and getting kids doing meaningful work they care about. :)

I hope these thoughts might be helpful to others here… and I hope to learn more from all of you in the comments.

Nexus 7 Tablets Given a Test Drive by Second Graders

By Second Grade Teacher Julie Stewart

Anytime a class set of items enters a classroom, there needs to be an organized method to monitor them.  I realized that our new tablets could be managed just as easily as anything else in my classroom.  I would just use the classroom student identification numbers I assigned the students on the first day of school.  This would ensure that each student would always get their own tablet.  (I will let you know why this is so important to me in a later post.)  I made labels with their last names and ID numbers.  I took a photo of each box with their last name and number.  I then attached the labels to the back of the Nexus 7 tablets.  After attaching the label to the tablet, I took a simple colored dot with the ID number written on it and attached that to the box.  (This was cheaper than using label tape!)  This allowed me to store the boxes and remember which tablet belonged with which box and have a file stored with this information.  Beth and I also opted to leave the clear plastic film on the tablets to help protect the screens for as long as possible.  We figured that this was better than nothing for the time being.  We shall see how long this packaging film lasts as our cheap screen protector!

After getting the tablets marked with ID numbers and handed out to their new owners, we were finally ready to get started!  I gave the students a brief overview of the Nexus 7,  how to turn it on, and basic care and handling.  Since the students had already set-up their Google accounts the week before the tablets arrived, it was so simple to have them enter their information after turning them on. Oh, there were a few who had to try it a couple of  times, but it really was easier than I thought it was going to be.  The only minor glitch was when it came to the step where the wireless security code needed to be entered into the tablets to allow for an internet connection.  I realized that I had to put that information into each tablet myself!  It happened to be our lunch and recess time, so I was able to get it all done by the time the students got back to class.   Needless to say, they were pretty happy that I had every tablet ready to go.  Their excitement was pretty high at this point.

After all of the start-up steps were completed, they were ready to take their tablets for a test drive.  The first thing they wanted to do was visit was Google Earth!  It was a simple and easy first task. Their first couple of stops on their virtual trip was their house and our school.  Then one of the students suggested that we visit different countries.  It was not long before most of them were gathered around the world map in our classroom and found the places they wanted to see.  By the end of the class period, I believe that every continent had been visited by my classroom travelers.  This proved to be a very exciting virtual field trip.  I think the most exciting moment that I captured in a photo was when two students found out that they could visit Paris!  It was a great teacher and student moment!

We definitely had a great first lesson with our new tablets.  Our test drive was a huge success!

Second Grade Teacher’s Dream Fulfilled With the Arrival of the Nexus 7 Tablets

Cross posted at

By Second Grade Teacher Julie Stewart

It is just about a year ago when I told Beth Mossholder, our resident Google Certified Teacher and technology teacher, that I was going to try to find a way to get tablets into my classroom.  Little did I know that I could actually make it happen!  After attending the Google Apps for Education Rocky Mountain Summit this past August, I knew I had to get the 21st century into my classroom for more than just one day a week when my class had a technology class.  When I saw the opportunity offered from the Ed Tech Team to place Nexus 7 tablets into the hands of students for a pilot program, I knew this was my chance to make this a reality.  I applied and am now thrilled to be part of this amazing journey that has already opened the world up to my students.

September 24, 2012 marked the beginning of this amazing journey for my second grade class with the arrival of our classroom set of Nexus 7 tablets.  We had been following the shipment via UPS with their tracking system, so when we saw that they were in Colorado at a UPS depot just miles from our school, the class could hardly sit still!  The school office was alerted to make the phone call once the truck arrived with this very special delivery.  Beth and I knew our world was about to change in a matter of hours.

The phone finally rang with our much anticipated phone call.  I quickly got the students to line up; how I managed that I will never know!  I went two doors down from my classroom to get Beth as my second graders followed me like little ducklings all in a row.  We started to hurry down the long hallway when hurrying suddenly turned into something similar to running.  The chatter of  happy voices disturbing every classroom along the way was priceless!  Little faces peered out from behind classroom doors as we made our way to the school office.  We were greeted with a smiling UPS delivery man with the special delivery from the Ed Tech Team!

This had to be the best day ever for my second graders!  The addition of these tablets is going to change the way my students learn this school year and beyond into their futures.  The 21st century has arrived in my classroom, and I cannot wait to see where it takes us.

Thank you, Ed Tech Team, for making a dream come true.  Our journey has just begun and what a ride it is going to be!


iPad in Education Workshop Resources from ISTE 2010

As promised to many on the waiting lists, we’re posting the iPad in Education workshop resources here at While this is no substitute for being in the room as Steve Dembo (or Robert Craven) leads the session in person, here are the workshop outlines and resources:

iPad in Education Workshop

Feel free to play along with the “Share Your Favorite Apps” activity. :)

If you’d like to register for an iPad in Education workshop yourself, you can see what’s currently open for registration from CUE. Or, if you’d like to bring the iPad in Education workshop to your own site, district, or region, you can request the workshop via the CUEtoYOU professional development program.

iPad in Education Workshops

Though I caught some flack for announcing this on Twitter on Wednesday (on account of getting caught up in the iFad and jumping on the next Pad Wagon), I do think it’s important for organizations like CUE to take risks, explore, and lead the way with new technologies. And, I suspect many of you might be interested in this. Plus, I felt a lot better when I saw that Ewan McIntosh launched a fund focused on iPad innovation the same day. ;)

The iPad, a “magical and revolutionary device” was announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the morning of January 27. CUE is proud to announce the iPad in Education workshop the same day! Two workshops are currently open for registration. You may also request a workshop for your site.

Register today for a workshop on May 12th,
or request an iPad in Education workshop for your site!

Of course, let me know if you have any thoughts, questions, or other feedback in the comments below. :)

Intel Classmate PC

I’m typing on an Intel Classmate PC right now! I used to work with Steve Glyer at the Newport-Mesa USD. He is a board member for Computer Using Educators, Inc and is sharing with the board right now that he is running a pilot program with students at his district. It’s got a small keyboard, but it’s a full PC with XP, and it’s very rugged. I’m hoping to get my hands on a loaner unit soon. In the meantime, here I am typing on one at the CUE board meeting (with twitter on screen).

Considering 1-to-1: Here’s a Toolkit to Get Started

I started this post on my laptop, but ran out of power. The following is composed from the moblogged notes I took on my treo. Beginning in media res, I found it interesting that the presenters noted that they have seen higher parent participation at the 1-to-1 schools because of laptop orientations they offered. More importantly, they offer what they call a TIP toolkit (or Technology Immersion Pilot Toolkit) for others considering a 1-to-1 implementation. This professionally designed document includes (among other resources) “TIP Factors” or “factors to consider before implementing technology immersion” and “TIPS for Success” or “lessons learned from their technology immersion pilot.” Though the presenters had the slides with the most bullets I’ve seen in a long time, I suspect the actual document will be a good resource for my 1-to-1 work with Salem School over the next year.

I was happy to discover that their tips seemed very familiar based on my experience and reading on the topic so far. Frankly, though, it’s hard to focus on all of these elements during an implementation. I believe the key factor, the one that can help you overcome a shortcoming in any other area is stakeholder buy-in. Other bits that caught my attention in this presentation were the assertion that principals need time to learn, too! Also, they were explicit about the need to have a PLAN for staff turnover, something I learned the hard way during the EETT grant implementation that gave 1200 middle school students in Newport-Mesa Palm Tungsten E handhelds. Naturally, they also noted that curriculum integration and pedagogical support is at least as important as tech support. I was particularly happy to see them recommend using students for technical support. This session and the others like it left me looking forward to working in a 1-to-1 situation again soon.

Session Link: Considering 1-to-1: Here’s a Toolkit to Get Started

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A Computer On Every Desk? Now What?

This is being live blogged during concurrent session one at NECC. In preparation for my 1:1 work with Salem, I decided to seek out sessions on 1:1 at NECC this year. I started upstairs in End-to-End One-to-One Computing Solutions: Engage Students and Empower Educators, but quickly realized it was a Gateway commercial (the first slide made this easy) and headed downstairs to A Computer On Every Desk? Now What?. On the way I went down the escalator with John Pederson and was very tempted to join him in Will’s session… he had a huge crowd, and like John I would’ve liked to have seen Will’s current presentation, but I opted for getting out of the echo champer after all.

So I’m here with James Gates (no relation to Bill), who opened with some humor and then his goals for the session. Among other things he has something of an open source focus. Cool. He also offered political background on Pennsylvania’s move to shared WANs and shared services, including netTrekker, Internet2, Moodle, & podcasting services. He talked also about their professional development programs, and an effort to put a laptop for each kid in all of the core classrooms. Other context included news about failures of laptops (and educational technology) in schools.

As he turned a corner in the presenation he focused on what students need to do…

The first hurdle – students become stenographers. Don’t be afraid to say, “close the lid.” Train students on how to take notes.

The second hurdle – accessing files from home. They used elocker hosted on their WAN (50 MB) and (1 GB), a free service. (This is cool – I tried it with, but James discussed some of the issues with it as well.)

Next he talked about using Moodle (instead of Blackboard). And, cool, the kids have blogs in Moodle, but there are no comments. (This is sad… and arguably not a blog.) He demoed the blog feature a bit. They are now experimenting with using elgg in conjunction with Moodle – for better blog features and locker space.

In addition to the Moodle submission tools, he’s using network shared folders for inboxes, outboxes, and shared folders.

Ah, he’s discussing wikis and He’s very Web 2.0 savvy. He keeps talking about tags, too. He even talked about Scuttle, an open source social bookmarking tool. Schools can even instal their own instance for their students (though, I think this defeats the social bookmarking element to some degree.) Man, now he’s on aggregators, including pageflakes, which I really only started looking at during the edubloggercon. Very cool… it’s a very visual aggregator. Cool! He talked about subscribing to Moodle discussion forums. I’m stoked to hear you can do that. And now he’s at Google Docs. So much for getting out of the echo chamber. I suppose that might be something of a futile exercise here at NECC. ;)

I suppose it should be comforting that I may be right in thinking that these tools are ideally suited for 1:1 implementations. Incidentally, he is acknowledging the “issues” related to these tools, but not letting them stand in his way.

Here’s something new to me… splashcastmedia, which allows you to create web based slide shows and embed them in your own site:

SplashCast enables anyone to create streaming media ‘channels’ that combine video, music, photos, narration, text and RSS feeds. These user-generated channels can be played and easily syndicated on any web site, blog, or social network page. When channel owners modify their channel, their content is automatically updated across all the web pages ‘tuned’ to that channel.

Now he’s talking about , which creates visual timelines from RSS feeds. Here’s a timeline for this site.

Ok… now Joomla:

Joomla! is one of the most powerful Open Source Content Management Systems on the planet. It is used all over the world for everything from simple websites to complex corporate applications. Joomla! is easy to install, simple to manage, and reliable.

He uses it for his school newspaper, a neat implementation

He said that in PA you can’t have public blogs in school, but “it’s a little better than pasted a word document on a wall.” This guy is great. This session is much more fun than I expected.

With ten minutes left, he’s demoing some real classes (password protected, so no link, sorry).

Hm. Then he returned to slides for his conclusion… and my own engagement went way down. I need to heed that myself.

The first question: Are you working with your staff to be sure they don’t over do it? Or to be sure that if something comes in, something goes out? (He pretty much responded yes, that’s a good point.)

It’s a big room and I can’t hear the other questions so much… and it sounds like he putting off some questions for after.

Oh! They don’t even actually have the laptops yet. Oh well, fun session anyway.

Wiki for this workshop:

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1-to-1 At Salem Lutheran School

This has been a busy week for me, as you may have guessed from the lack of posts since Monday. Wednesday was particularly busy… the day started with my first workshop at Salem Lutheran School in Orange. They’ve been gearing up for a 1-to-1 implementation where every faculty member and student would have a new MacBook. They were initially planning to launch the full program in the fall, but have thankfully decided to slow down a bit. Teachers just received their MacBooks and the technical staff are installing new X-serves this week. Next year they will have several rolling carts with mobile MacBook labs so teachers can begin developing lessons, and there may be some pilot 1-to-1 classrooms in the second semester. I’m lucky enough to be involved as a consultant (and professional developer), so naturally I created a wiki to support the program:

There isn’t much there yet other than a typical workshop outline (complete with hotlinks… and lots of references to Pamela Livingston’s new book, 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs That Work). I organized the rest of the wiki based on the California Tech Planning framework, so there’s sections for curriculum, professional development, infrastructure, funding, and evaluation. Despite the fact that it’s mostly empty right now, there was some cool wiki-ness happening Wednesday. I did the old “best hopes, worst fears” activity on a wiki for the first time, and we did an “in class” discussion on the wiki. The staff created a wish list already in the funding section, and we posted the results of a quick initial teacher attitude survey in the evaluation section. We haven’t moved the FAQ’s over yet, but here are the (slightly out of date) FAQs from their main website if you interested.

This is the beginning of an exciting new journey for the Salem teachers, Greg Busch (their IT support), Tim Surridge (their Ed Tech coordinator), and Phil Duerr (their principal)… and for me. :)

Link: PALM Foleo

PALM Foleo (Via ::: The EdTech Advantage :::.) I saw Rolly Maiquez’s post on this first yesterday. It caught my eye because of my past involvement with handheld one-to-one initiatives and my current (new) involvement with a laptop one-to-one. Palm, Inc. is selling a laptop-like keyboard and display… as an accessory for Palm handhelds. If you watch the intro video by the president, I think he’s right. Our devices will primarily get smaller and more powerful. Soon your primary computer will be as small as your phone or smaller… and you’ll want a portable keyboard and display from time to time. Here’s a direct link: Palm, Inc. – Products – Foleo.