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.

New Laptop, Phone, & Service: Open Source, Unlocked, & Contract Free

UPDATE: I buried the lead… by switching from AT&T to StraightTalk I’m basically getting my new phone AND laptop for FREE. :)

Wow. I exhausted all the possibilities and finally settled on a new laptop, phone, and phone service. I’m going all open source, unlocked, and contract free. :)

Laptop: ZaReason UltraLap 430

Phone: Google Galaxy Nexus by Samsung

Service: StraightTalk Unlimited (Month-to-Month)

BTW, I’ll save more than $1000 over two years by leaving AT&T… plus another $1400 since I’ll be canceling my MiFi as well. I can buy a new phone whenever I want! (This made it easier to say no to the Samsung Galaxy SIII for now, as did the promise of Jelly Bean sooner on the Nexus… not to mention the Nexus was half the price unlocked. I really wanted to do the SIII on Credo for $199, but the two year contract at AT&T like prices turned me off despite Credo’s social mission.)

Also, the laptop has double the RAM of a Maxed out Macbook Air, and more SSD storage than possible with a Macbook Air… for over $300 less. And, I found great looking alternatives to all my favorite Mac Apps, including TextExpander and FlyCut. Oh, and they’re all free.

These are still not inexpensive purchases, but I feel like it’s money well spent… I was out the door for 15% less than I would’ve been with a maxed out Macbook Air and a basic iPhone 5. And with the savings over time with the cell plan, I basically just got my new phone and computer for FREE!

I guess I buried the lead, eh?

And of course I’ll be sharing my experiences switching from OS X and iOS to Linux and Android… and I’m looking forward to finally walking the open source talk. :)

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. :)

iPod Touch in Education Workshop

I just opened registration for an iPod in Education workshop scheduled during the OCCUE Tech Fair on January 24th. If you are in the area and are interested in a workshop that includes both the iPod Touch and over two hours of inspirational ideas for educational use, please sign up. :)

iPod Touch in Education

January 24, 2009
8:30 to 10:50 AM
St. John’s Lutheran School
Orange, Ca

Learn how the revolutionary iPod Touch is the ultimate in mobile learning. Store, organize and access media – plus browse the web! Receive a 16 GB iPod Touch. “Learn It, Take It, Use It!” (Ticketed Focus Session, 2 hrs 20 min, $399, Includes iPod Touch)

This workshop is produced through a partnership between CUE, Inc. and OCCUE.

Lead Learner(s):
Robert EM Craven
Coordinator Educational Technology
Orange County Department of Education

Register Today:

I’ll post the workshop links as soon as I have them. In the meantime, feel free to share links to your own (or your own favorite) iPod Touch in education resources in the comments. And let me know if you have any questions about this workshop – or would like to bring one to your own site, of course. :)

Geeking Out: SMS and IM for Mobile Phones

I’ve been geeking out on my Treo again lately… thanks in part to Jenith and Lainie out-geeking me with their Treos on Friday night, but mostly because I just bought Eva a T-Mobile Wing for her birthday. She’s got always-on AIM on there, so I decided to set it up on my phone too. Along the way I found this cool way to send email as an SMS to a mobile phone.

Incidentally, in the end I settled on the (trial) version if IM+ for my mobile AIM needs. I may pay for it soon. Anyone else have any suggestions?

In any case, I love that I can finally IM Eva from my desk to her phone! And it’s equally cool that I can finally get IMs when away from my computer. :D

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.

Let OS X developers at the iPhone. Please.

Let OS X developers at the iPhone. Please. (Via 43 Folders.) This now familiar plea for 3rd party development on iPhone…

NYT: Final word for now, no third-party apps on the iPhone (Via 43 Folders.) … sadly goes unheeded.

Mobile Mind-ed Meanwhile, educators are still thinking about how to use the iPhone, and about the pros and cons of convergence in handheld devices, while…

Why should we cheer for Steve’s patents? (Via Scripting News.) … outside the education world, Dave Winer takes Apple to task.

Decline of the PDA? In education?

Decline of the PDA? (Via Technorati Search for: “Educational Technology”.) Having spent a good deal of time on handhelds in education, but having recently suggested that CUE could drop the handheld course description from a pending press release about the CUEtoYOU professional development program, I found this headline interesting. This is a thorough and balanced post on a trend I’ve been noticing lately, and from an educational perspective in places – from a blog I haven’t noticed before. Lets hear it for Technorati search feeds.

Alright, back to work for me…

To iPod or Not to iPod? (And what about handhelds? And phones?)

To iPod or Not to iPod? (Via edTech Classroom.) Here is another iPod in Education post (and Brian’s been posting some good content over at edTech Classroom lately, so the link is worth it). There is a comparison chart between iPods and “handhelds” that neatly summarizes my thoughts on the topic. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I consider what equipment I’ll need post-OCDE. I wound up getting an iPod (I’ve been spoiled), but, sadly, it is no replacement for a handheld. I may combine my handheld and phone with something like a Treo 700p, but this is expensive, espcially with the data service, and especially if I don’t switch carriers. (I’d have to buy an unlocked GSM version for T-Mobile for hundreds of dollars more.) Alternatively, I’ll keep my simple phone and get something like a Tungsten TX, but I would really miss the web and email after using the blackberry for so long now. I haven’t sorted this one out yet… and I’m open to suggestions.