Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Apple vs Google = ?

We have seen a lot of discussion recently about the Apple and Google presence in the education space. There have been many impassioned pleas from different sectors about iPads vs Chromebooks but I have never really understood the notion that a school has to move towards a particular brand of technology or one type of device. 

We often see arguments about the educational merits of a particular brand. People promote Apple because it allows for greater creativity, other push forward Chromebooks because they give the students access to the Google suite of educational tools or another group who talk about Microsoft and how important it is that students will be across tools that they will be expected to use in the workplace.


This is not my experience. When devices are provided and students are aware of the limitation of each of the devices then they chose the right device for the task at hand. You and I would never limit ourselves to one device in the workplace. We would choose the device that is best suited to the task at hand. I might be lucky but I am currently provided a phone, a tablet and a laptop. These are tools of the trade in the environment where I work. I know this is not always the case but I am in eLearning so it makes sense that I have access to the technology. My point is - shouldn’t we create a situation in the classroom that mimics real workplaces and then hand the responsibility back to the students about deciding which device is best for completing a particular task.

I work with schools moving to a BYOD environment and the ones that get the best results have a range of devices available to the students. One school I have worked with, suggested to their community tablets for the device for students but has then provided 6 laptops and 6 Chromebooks in the rooms for the students when they need them.

I have been in the classroom when students working in small groups quickly discuss the nature of the task and the most appropriate device choice. This is the type of independent and students led learning that I believe we should be developing in our schools. Give the students a voice and a choice. The very fact that they are discussing the nature of the task prior to commencing it means that they have already started to deconstruct the different components of the task itself and are evaluating that type of appropriate tools or apps at their disposal to complete them.

I love the fact that if the students decide to make a movie they can grab the iPad, collectively negotiate the script, film and edit the footage and then insert graphics, voice overs, music and credits in iMovie to create a professional looking product.

Equally if they want to create a Google Form to collect data they can edit the document collaborative, share it via email and collate the data in graphs and pie charts before sharing back the result to participants.

These choices do not need to be an either or decision. This is an adult construct, one where you and I have preferences because of our skills level or the device we are most comfortable with. I bet your students do not see it this way. They did not learn to use computers on a particular platform, they use them all, interchangeably and without hesitation. They really do not delineate between Apple, Google or Microsoft but rather between what each of the tools on offers deliver and how well they will meet the needs of the task.

Once again I am reminded that often it is I who needs to get out of the way to allow my students to learn best. So the next time you are involved in a discussion about whether your school should go Apple or Google why not ask the question - Why not both?

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