On Thu, 2014-12-18 at 12:13 +1100, Noah O'Donoghue wrote:
> I've been on conferences where teachers talk for days about all the apps
> they are using in their classroom and the ways they are using them for
> educational outcomes. There are just so many apps available. Here's a link
> to multiple pages of specific examples. Pick any 10, and see if you can
> find equivalents on android. The situation is getting better (more apps on
> android than before). But it's not there yet in the educational arena.
> http://www.ipadsforeducation.vic.edu.au/userfiles/files/ipads_for_learning_getting_started.pdf

I had a look through that document. I am aware of android alternatives
for many of those, and am sure for many more of them I could find
something if I tried. Quite a few of those are already available on the
web anyway, which can be accessed from any device. There are likely a
few that are not available but no school will use all of them and I
doubt any truly are deal-breakers. In fact, I expected to see a list of
must-haves and was surprised that I didn't find them.

> The accessibility features of iOS are quite extensive. I couldn't begin to
> iterate through the features, but one that comes to mind is single app
> mode, which is great for locking a specific app to view, and can be
> switched on and off instantly from a server.

Agreed this is not default android, but Kiosk mode apps - including with
centralised remote control - are available. There are also other apps
available which give far more sophisticated control; I use ScreenTime
for my children, it lets me control which apps are used during school
hours versus home time for instance, and prevent use of games etc at
inappropriate times. This one is not available for iPad, but maybe
others are.

> Citation needed. Show me a small, light, android tablet with decent battery
> life including standby power. Apple make a small range of devices, but they
> are premium devices and usually the smallest / lightest / fastest in their
> category at time of release.

I dispute that you want it too small. For doing creative work (and even
for web sometimes) larger would be better. I can get a Samsung 10"
tablet for under $300 in the shops locally, it's a good device not some
cheap no name product and has quite sufficient processing (quad core,
16GB, 10 hour in-use battery life) for educational work. Can you show me
a 10" iPad for under $300?

Alternatively I might decide that I want a rugged tablet for my
children, as they are otherwise prone to breaking delicate and expensive
items. Sure, I can buy a rugged Android tablet if I choose, but there is
no such opportunity from Apple.

While Apple kit does have good specs you always pay an Apple premium for
it, and in my experience can almost always find something as good as or
better, and cheaper, from other manufacturers.

A note on battery life, if my children are using the device constantly
for more than 2 hours a day at school then I am worried as I think that
book, paper, and other physical object based learning should still be
the primary mode of learning. I want them to be getting paint on their
hands (within reason), do real science experiments (that don't work!)
rather than watch them on a screen, and use the index or scan a book to
answer questions rather than just copy-pasting off Wikipedia.

> If you find a solid example make sure you compare it to the price of
> Apple's iPad offering in schools, which is about $480.

Yes, I think I can beat that as per above.

> <various sysadmin stuff deleted>
> If the alternative devices don't do this, then you need to budget support
> hours in with the cost of the device, because each school will have a fixed
> amount of support available to them in the form of tech time.
> At the end of the day, I like both OSes (android and iOS), and I would
> happily support either given the resources, but schools don't have
> unlimited resources so you have to pick the best tool for the job...

I think your points are valid if the technology is paid for and provided
for by the school, and administered by the school. This is how our
school is right now, everything is Apple and from my point of view that
is no different and no worse than an everything is Windows school. I
would much prefer schools to be enlightened to freedom based
alternatives but since it is entirely within their boundaries they are
free to do as they please and I am entirely fine with that.

However, the situation is entirely different when the expectation is
that the parents are to pay for, provide, and administer the devices,
which is what many schools are moving to (including ours) and is how
this thread started. See the links I put in the email at the start of
this thread for more details.

In this case then the school's preferences becomes only one part of the
equation and the needs and preferences of the family also become
relevant. At that point demanding a particular device from a single
manufacturer is unreasonable and completely ignores important factors
such as how the device will be used outside of school, how it will be
provided and managed by parents, how it will interoperate with existing
devices owned by the family, and whether parents are able to afford the
devices in the first place. We have 3 young children but we have friends
with 5 school age children, and a purchase of ~$500 x N is beyond many
families budgets, especially given the short lifecycle of these devices
meaning it probably needs replacing every 2-3 years (or whenever the
school decides they need an upgrade).

And this is not even mentioning whether the parents are of the opinion
that the cost is going to provide that level of educational benefit,
which is something that certainly many people are not convinced of. I
for one find the Apple/Android pads great for consuming content but not
for creation, and would very much prefer a laptop based curriculum. Also
the longevity of these devices is much better, I use a 4 year old laptop
for 50 hours a week for my work and apart from battery replacement it's
still entirely up to the job and runs the latest software (Fedora is my
choice but it could be anything). I have a 7 year old laptop that is
just as effective for working with and also runs the latest software. In
7 years time the current generation of pads will be mostly in the trash
I'm sure.

There are references on the web of iPad classes where non-iPad provided
children are largely excluded, or even worse, where the iPad is a
convenient way of filling time. From personal anecdotes I hear of an
Asperger's child given an iPad instead of the special support needed
just because it makes life easier for a teacher that does not fully
understand the needs of the child. I think this whole area has many
facets and is far from black and white like the iPad brigade like to
present it.


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