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If one of the country’s largest school districts and the world’s largest tech company can’t make tech in the classroom work, can anyone?

When will we learn. It’s not about the technology its about the learning.

Source: What Schools Must Learn From LA’s iPad Debacle | WIRED

In the TechRepublic post Chromebooks leapfrog iPads in US education market for first time, here’s why Conner Forrest points out that Chromebooks got to 20% marketshare of the education market worldwide and nearly 50% share in the US education market.

Why is Google taking control of the market share?

  • Lower hardware costs – some Chromebooks come in below $200.
  • Lower management costs – simple management console and no imaging costs.
  • Students prefer Chromebooks to iPads – in grades 3-12 overwhelming preference for Chromebooks. Younger students benefit from the touch screen of the iPad.
  • Web-based apps – majority of major educational software is now available online.
  • Google Classroom – Collaborative integration of Google Docs, Drive, and Gmail. Nothing native to the iPad provides the same service.

Cost aside, Google Chromebooks provide a much simpler and easier to use ecosystem for students, teachers and administrators than the iPad.

This could be a huge blow to Apple because the education market has been one of Apple’s keys to success. With their continued inability to grow their iCloud service into anything that remotely offers the power of Google Docs/Apps for education I don’t see them regaining the Educational market share in the US and would expect to see their world wide Educational share decline as well.

I think that this is also an example of Google beating Apple at is own game – simplicity. Over the years people (myself included) have been willing to spend the premium dollar on the iPhone, iPads and other Apple products in general because they are so simple to use. The iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices work so well together that they required minimal management. Once you learn all of Apple’s idiosyncrasies you are up and running.

Google’s products have matured to the point were they are equally simple to use and with the added infrastructure of Google Classroom and Google Apps for Education Google offers a management simplicity that Apple has not been able to match.

As much as I enjoy using my MacBook Air, my iPad or my iPhone I can only tolerate iTunes and iTunesU and other Apple management tools. The wonderful option is using the best of both worlds. For the most part I use Apple hardware but for almost everything else Google is my first choice.

It will be interesting to see how this continues to develop. Are you Google or Apple purist or are you a hybrid user?

Tablets on Campus

February 18, 2014 — Leave a comment


I generally will NOT write anything to support or explain an infographic because by their very nature they should convey all necessary information. If an infographic needs explaining then it isn’t a very good infographic. In this instance I think it is helpful to comment on the validity of the data and statistics that this infographic points to. I went to each of the sources cited in the infographic to confirm that the data was legitimate and to also to confirm that I am passing on a useful resource.

Much of the stats regarding student technology use come from the following three sources:

It must be noted that the Adobe report is not cited directly but Jimmy Daly the Online Content Manager for EdTech Focus on Higher Education cites content from this report in two of the blog posts cited in the infographic. To assure that information being presented is as accurate as possible I strive to rely primarily on original sources and look for infographics that do the same. I also compared this infographic to ECAR Student and Technology 2013 infographic summary from the 2013 ECAR Student and Technology Use Survey and confirmed that the statistics in this infographic are reasonably in line with the ECAR statistics.

It is clear from this infographic and the supporting reports the tablet has become the new tool of choice students are relying on to help them learn in the digital information age.

Mary Meeker of KPCB who is best known for her Internet Trends Report provided a mid year update to a select group of industry leaders and confirmed that mobile adoption is growing even more rapidly than she or anyone else has predicted. Meeker points to the following increased growth:

… iPad adoption is now ramping up five times faster than iPhone adoption, up from 3X in her May report…Android adoption is increasing six times faster than iPhone adoption, up from 4X.

Perhaps the most significant number and Meeker points to is:

…by the end of Q2 2013, Meeker believes the global smartphone plus tablet install base will surpass the install base of the PC.

In less than 5 years smartphones and tablets have surpassed the installed base of PCs. The notion of accessing the world’s information all the time and from everywhere is no longer a futuristic prediction. We are living this. We have been living this for several years and industries like Education are being disrupted in the same way that music, newspapers and video/dvd distribution have been disrupted.

Is Higher Education doing enough to respond to this disruption? Are faculty and administrator and schools at all levels preparing our students for a world that is changing so rapidly?

Seton Hall University is best know for following Abilene Christian University (ACU) into the mobile learning space with their iPad and Android tablet pilots in 2011. Having had the opportunity meet with several Seton Hall faculty at ACU Connected conferences while I was at ACU I know first hand that the user experience and using technology to enhance learning was a top priority for these people at Seton Hall. This is why the Converge article which points to the Seton Halls Windows 8 pilot and the primary reason for giving up on the iPad and Android pilots as device management was so disappointing. The Associate CIO’s statement:

The enterprise deployment and support features just aren’t there in the other two platforms like they’ve existed in Windows for so long.

confirms that when Information Technology (IT) management and deployment issues become the top priority for a platform deployment you can be certain that the users needs, in this case the faculty and students, are no longer the drivers for change. In addition to management issues the article does also points to the institutions desire to run Microsoft’s One Note which only runs on Windows. Once again this is unfortunately and another indicator that IT management needs are driving this move because the free and cloud based application Evernote is not only a viable substitute for One Note it is actually an upgrade.

Having worked in the role of a CIO and other IT management capacities I can appreciate the convenience that working with well established Windows based deployment tools can offer but I need to remind everyone that when it comes to building an effective learning environment the needs of the IT department should not override the needs of the learner. IT should be supporting the learner (which includes the faculty member) and should be striving to provide an infrastructure where the learner can seamlessly do what they need to do with their own iPad, Android or other mobile device. The learner/consumer has spoken by making the iPad the most popular and transformative network device we have seen in the history of information technology. Its popularity is based primarily on the fact that you don’t need the “dark arts” of the IT department to install software or even configure the device to work or you don’t need to take a course to use it–the iPad is intuitive and it just works. While I can’t yet comment on the Windows tablet yet, many years of experience with Windows has confirmed that there is nothing intuitive about Windows and huge IT departments are necessary to support this platform.

The moves that Seton Hall are making are troubling but not that surprising. We have seen Higher Education IT departments influence platform choices in the past. When the early Learning/Course Management Systems (CMS or LMS) were being developed in the late 90’s it didn’t take too long for the management, deployment and support issues to become the drivers of change. When you factor in the consolidation of the LMS industry by companies like Blackboard we now have some of the best “walled gardens” every built that most faculty would much rather not use. The command and control model so useful for IT departments and offered by the Blackboards of the world not only limits innovation and change it limits learning.

In contrast the iPhone, iPad and related IOS devices as well as Android devices that students choose on their own and most often come to school with are simply tools that these leaners have chosen to help enhance their learning. I have repeatedly stated that the best technology is invisible and simply enhances the experience without drawing any attention to itself. The best technology is also the technology that that average person will set up on their own and use on a daily basis. The best technology for higher education is what faculty are willing to use on a daily basis and what they and their students have to chosen to use on their own. The bring your own device (BYOD) model of technology deployment is what the iPad and related IOS devices have established. This is the technology strategy that can enhance learning.

Unfortunately for Seton Hall and many similar institutions issues of command and control will trump user preference and usability.

For another perspective on the perspective of command and control model of technology deployment verses the BYOD model review the SAP Business Innovation article: Will Prosumer Tablets Beat The iPad In The Enterprise?