I wrote a recent blog post on the tablet procurement Framework here in Scotland towards the end of last year, mainly about how it has been a positive move but also how we might consider improving it, particularly now that the review date for the contract is approaching. One of the points I raised was the lack of choice of tablets and how, despite a mechanism in the framework governance for responding to market developments, I felt that this had not been addressed by the current contract holder XMA. The pricing structure is not all that competitive either, with better prices available from other sources. Indeed, are schools able to access good independent advice and needs analysis before investing large amounts of money in tablet device purchasing? From individuals, colleagues or consultants who live and work in Scotland and know Scottish education well enough to help schools and LA’s make informed choices and are completely device agnostic as well as knowing where to go for the best prices on the chosen device? I don’t think this is happening enough.
There is now a further incentive (apart from increased range) for schools to consider widening their horizons and using alternative routes to the Framework when making purchases and it is that Microsoft have just announced a fantastic free training deal – that they will fund one days training for every twenty Windows devices purchased through their resellers, or three days for every fifty devices purchased. This training, delivered exclusively through Tablet Academy Scotland and Tablet Academy UK can be in the form of consultancy or from a selection of six courses tailored to Windows 8 devices in the classroom. For further information on contacting participating Windows Tablet suppliers across the UK, Contact Tablet Academy directly for information on this offer which is valid in all parts of the UK until March 31st 2014.
In Scotland, the hugely well-respected Pam Currie (who runs Tablet Academy Scotland) and her team have the experience and local knowledge to be able to offer this advice – check out this free advice service here.
Of course Apple also offer free training with volume tablet purchases and the APD courses are excellent for schools wishing to use ‘off the shelf’ training for their staff, however it is what you see on the box and these courses (which Tablet Academy also deliver) can only be customised by a maximum of twenty-five percent and must never the less still focus on the ‘core curriculum’ set out in the APD course specification, whereas the Tablet Academy Windows 8 courses can be much more flexible and even bespoke depending upon your own needs or circumstances, including using 3rd party Apps rather than Apple products, for example ‘Pinnacle Studio’ instead of iMovie and the new ‘Create Books’ Windows app (similar to the IOS ‘Book Creator’app) that is currently in beta testing, but was demonstrated in the BETT 2014 Interactive Classroom.
I think that more choice is a good thing. Windows and Android devices have come along way in a relatively short period of time and may now be ready to challenge Apple for market share. Whilst I love my iPad mini, I’ve grown to respect my Android and Windows devices too.
Samsung have just announced a ten year deal with Google. Windows 8 apps are getting better and more education-focussed as the months go by. This year might well be a very significant one for tablet market share shift, with both Windows 8 and Android tablets gaining ground on market leader Apple in both the hardware and apps stakes.
(This blog post should be read with my usual disclaimer in mind, etc etc etc. You’ll find this in the page Tabs above)
Filed under: capacity-building, change, CPD, teaching and learning Tagged: ADE, APD, Apple, iPad, Microsoft, Pam Currie, procurrement Framework, Tablet Academy Scotland, Tablet AcademyUK, Training, Windows 8, XMA
A recent post on All things D highlights how devices which have been somewhat off the radar in education have quietly gained kudos and market share. The Kindle Fire featured in this post is one such device. Interestingly, Amazon’s own app store is also gaining some traction.
The Fire is not currently included in the Scottish Government Tablet Device Procurement Framework for Education and neither is one of the other recent success stories in education, the Chromebook. I recently wrote about the Microsoft Surface tablet and how subsequent iterations (the Surface 2 is now out) will find their place in schools. The Surface is not in the framework either, and the new Toshiba Encore is a fantastic tablet running Windows 8.1 which certainly should be. This platform is a great fit with the Microsoft Office 365 on which the current iteration of GLOW is based, when schools eventually get it.
The procurement framework was one of the key planks of the Scottish Government ICT in education programme. It coincided with our work on the ICT Excellence group where access was one of our key concerns in the report accepted by the Cabinet Secretary back in February this year. I know the introduction of the framework was applauded at the time as a way of increasing access, or at least helping schools with purchasing tablets, even if the pricing structure was not incredibly competitive! The Framework document states…
The national framework has secured the following benefits:
Provides access to devices for the purposes of education in Scotland, enhancing learning and teaching, supporting digital inclusion across Scotland’s schools.
Provides a range of tablet devices with various operating systems, at market leading prices.
Provides a range of competitively priced upgraded devices and accessories.
Provides consistent national pricing, regardless of size or geographical location.
Provides an easy route to market for contracting organisations.
Provides organisations with one central point for ordering and contract management covering warranty, insurance and general supply enquiries
It is anticipated that the majority of requirements for tablet devices will be met through the National Framework.
The last sentence is very telling for me because I don’t think this is now true. Are schools blindly purchasing iPads without a thought for what their needs actually are? Are schools accessing good advice and help with needs evaluation before making tablet purchasing decisions? That any investment in tablet devices is based upon needs and not simply driven by ‘Magpie decision making’ (lets collect shiny things) or a herd mentality is crucial to a successful tablet roll out and schools cannot afford not to factor in Office 365 and GLOW, and therefore the full (rather than the somewhat restricted range of devices offered through the current framework) range of current devices into their decision making process. The current Framework covers purchases but not the advice and training which is a vital component of any tablet device deployment.
Some local authorities are geared up for this, particularly Edinburgh with its superb Digital learning Team and experienced practitioners like Mark Cunningham. Other sources of advice are available, including the Learning with Devices blog which is from Education Scotland, and truly independent consultants and organisations not tied to any one particular platform or reseller such as Tablet Academy Scotland which can provide specialist evaluation services covering all operating systems and devices. This can help schools weigh up the pro’s and con’s of all the different devices and platforms and assist them to arrive at the choice which meets their own particular needs.
If you are considering purchasing Tablets, first ask this; Has your Local Authority or Learning Community held a Tablet Evaluation Workshop day yet? Have you researched the web for information on different tablets? Do you need to use the procurement Framework or is your chosen device not featured, and can you get a better deal elsewhere?
Taking good advice and doing the research before making significant purchases is something which needs to be encouraged so that LA’s and schools don’t end up with yet more ‘White Elephant’ technologies on their storeroom shelves. Good advice taken directly from locally-based trainers who have worked with Curriculum for Excellence and appreciate how tablet devices enhance it’s delivery and practice is also crucial because its not just about the devices, its also about how you manage them within your current and future ICT Tech support set up. This is where good advice from the experts in actually using tablet devices in schools (and not just selling to education experience) is crucial to the success of your roll-out. Apple have certainly recognised the importance of this last point.
Another part of the Framework agreement is even more interesting…
“There is an on-going obligation on the successful supplier to identify new or potential improvements with a view to reducing costs and/or improving the quality and efficiency of the products and services”.
Has this happened with the current Framework arrangements? And is this something which needs to be examined more closely when the first year comes to an end and is reviewed in May 2014? There have been developments during the lifespan of the current framework which have been significant enough to have merited examination, yet I’m not aware of any changes made to the existing framework detail during its life to date. One example would be the Chromebook, which is even featured on the Learning with Devices blog yet remains absent from the framework and also the more recent Kindle offerings from Amazon and the previously mentioned Windows 8 devices.
That the Windows 8 platform does not feature prominently in the framework is one of many reasons why schools and LA’s might give serious consideration to bypassing it and making direct purchases. The up to date versions of the Office applications which come with Windows 8.1 are a great fit with the corresponding web apps within Office 365 and therefore, GLOW.
It seems to me that whilst the Framework has been a very good vehicle for making bulk purchases, it has also been a great opportunity lost (this is how a few disappointed LA IT folks have described it to me) and in particular is unadventurous when it comes to price and device range. In fact, when it can be said that the major benefit is not having to go down to Argos or PC World with a back pocket stuffed full of enough £50 notes to cover your purchase, then there needs to be a full review and evaluation of the Tablet procurement Framework at the Scottish Government before any extension or renewal takes place.
I wonder when review time rolls around might it be time for the Government to start talking to the manufacturers directly? Might this approach offer education the opportunity for some much more adventurous and innovative technology use with each manufacturer that wished to engage with Education offering special purchase schemes for schools and other institutions? This might also encourage targeted support for specific platforms.
The Tablet Device Framework was a first step in the right direction to widen access and manage the mobile device revolution in education but there now needs to be a serious conversation about widening access and this means re evaluating the current framework and perhaps changing tack. My own view is that schools considering tablet device purchases should examine all their available options both from inside and outside the current Framework…and get good independent advice before making decisions and then purchases.
(Please see the usual disclaimer which applies to all of my blog posts. Image from vancouversun.com ccl)
Filed under: capacity-building, change, future of education, GLOW, GlowPlus, ICT, teaching and learning Tagged: android, edtech, Framework, GLOW, GlowPlus, ICTEx, iPad, Kindle, Microsoft, mobile devices, Office 365, procurement, Scottish Government, Surface 2, Surface Pro, Tablets, Toshiba Encore, Windows 8, XMA
If, like me, you are an Apple fan who works with both Android and Windows 8 platforms as well, you often find yourself in the comparison game. Its not a good place to be. I’m a firm believer in making EdTech choices based on need (see my last blog post for more on this) and so I have no problem working across all three major mobile operating systems. I’ve worked with both Apple and Microsoft and I’m really impressed with what they both have to offer and with their commitment to education, be it through the Apple Professional Development programme or Microsoft’s Partners in learning and Excellent Educators. I’ve also done a bit or work with a fantastic Android device supplier and know that Android is catching up fast.
If I’m honest though, my iPad mini is the best piece of tech I’ve ever actually owned. For me personally, it does everything I need a mobile device to do. Thats not to say that other devices don’t have their own places or niches. There are some great Android functions and apps and Windows 8 devices have this interoperability with desktop machines that is a real advantage for those who are a bit less tech savvy than others – its the simplicity and familiarity factors coming into play.
But in education, the Apple IOS offering is still ahead of the game when it comes to apps. The killer three really set the iPad apart from the competition. BookCreator, iMovie and GarageBand are the killer three when it comes to schools. The creativity goes through the roof when kids are set free to work on these apps and its a wonderful thing to see. My good friends at Apple in the UK have introduced me to some incredible individuals and schools who are making fantastic use of these three apps.
Android and Windows 8 are pushing Apple all the way for market share in education tablet device use. To me,what they really need to work on are the killer apps. Where are the Android and Windows ‘killer’ three to take on the Apple triumvirate? get this one cracked and we could see the battle for market share really hotting up
Filed under: capacity-building, change, future of education, ICT, Leadership, teaching and learning Tagged: android, Apple, apps, edtech, iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPads, Microsoft, Samsung, Toshiba, Windows, Windows 8
Here’s a link to a list of the 80 best iPad apps. How many do you have on yours?
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Apple, apps, iPad
I’ve been working on my new Microsoft Surface pro this past couple of weeks. It’s certainly been an experience, and a steep learning curve. I’ve spent the past five years completely reliant on Apple products, including the incredible iPad and iPad mini’s. I had to get used to different screen swipes at first as the instinctive reaction is to use the iPad movements which have become almost like a form of automatic processing. And this machine is starting to grow on me. The windows 8.1 platform is pretty cool, and of course, all the Office productivity apps which are included make using documents, spreadsheets and presentations across my Windows machines pretty seamless.
The Tablet it’self has a USB port, amongst the others, which is incredibly useful for printing and connecting other devices, if thats what you need to do. Whilst this might appear to be an advantage, the increasing use of the cloud and wifi for printing might soon make this superfluous? The keyboard is useful too and provides a useful cover for the screen when not in use. Magnetic attachments for this keyboard and the charger are pretty cool too…
It’s been said that the Windows App Store is the big let down for this tablet platform,but the range is increasing all the time. Might this soon erode the dominance of the Apple App store? who can tell. But with Microsoft making a version of this tablet available for an incredibly low price, it certainly becomes an attractive alternative to the iPad particularly as Microsoft Office still dominates. The rest of the public sector might also consider this Tab a serious player too, on the same basis. Schools,provinces and districts using the Microsoft 365 for Education will also no doubt find this tablet a worthwhile alternative to consider. It is pretty chunky compared to the more stylish iPad, but in the mass market public sector, do looks really matter that much?
I’m going to continue working on mine. This doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned Apple and my iPad – far from it.personally, I still think Apple have the education market dominance,particularly with their quite brilliant support and apps such as iTunesU, Garageband , and iMovie. And making the iLife suite available free from September 18th is a very canny move which will further cement their number one position at the moment.
…But the competitors, like this Surface pro and Samsung are determined to chase them hard all the way, and if I was Tim Cook, I’d be looking over my shoulder for sure. All in all, good competition for the tablet market will be good for education too.
Here’s an interesting article link to some more information about using the Surface tablet.
(As always, readers are advised to checkout the disclaimer which applies to all my blog posts and which can be found by clicking on the tab at the top of the page).
Filed under: change, future of education, ICT Tagged: Apple, GLOW, GlowPlus, iPad, iPad Mini, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Surface Pro, Samsung
Is this really becoming one of those overused buzzwords in education? I’ve always been a big fan of Clayton Christensen’s book and his concept of disruptive technology because it made absolute sense to me. To be honest, I don’t think I’m ready to let go just yet…especially as we are in the midst of a seismic disruption in education. This of course is the mobile devices revolution which is causing disruption to so many entrenched practices which truly should have been left behind in the twentieth century.
What do you think? Is it another candidate for the education buzzword bingo card?
Filed under: capacity-building, change, CPD, future of education, ICT, teaching and learning Tagged: Clayten Christensen, disruptive technology, iPad, Tablet devices