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
Formed by the highly respected and influential educational technologist Professor Steve Molyneux, Tablet Academy has established itself as one of the UK’s leading training providers for mobile device use. Steve is a well known and respected independent consultant in the use of learning technologies to support education and training both across the UK and internationally. I’ve been doing some initial groundwork with Steve in Scotland and I’m pleased to say that Tablet Academy Scotland is now up and running, headed up by new CEO, the wonderful and equally well respected Pam Currie.
It is certainly an interesting and busy time for Tablet Academy as the business grows around the world. Tablet Academy UK is growing in Europe, and also Tablet Academy Africa is already up and running across Africa and the Middle East. This growth is in no small part due to the product on offer; tablet training and consultancy across all the three main operating systems. Apart from a well established portfolio of completely flexible and client-centred iPad training courses (ideal for organisations wishing to have their training completely personalised to suit their own specific needs) Tablet Academy has Apple Distinguished Educators who can deliver the full catalogue of Apple professional Development courses. This is significant for those taking advantage of the training on offer through the Scottish Government Tablet procurement Framework after purchasing iPads.
You can contact Tablet Academy here for some great deals on all of these course portfolios not available elsewhere.
Tablet Academy was also the first training consultancy to design courses for those education organisations choosing devices running Windows 8. Full details of these courses can be found here. Included is an introduction to using Office 365 which might be of particular interest in Scotland where the national schools intranet has started moving across to its new home based in office 365 and SharePoint. I’ve spent a lot of time recently writing training guides for Office 365 in Education and with huge growth worldwide in its use in schools, colleges and universities, I can certainly see Windows 8 tablets challenging the iPad for market sector dominance in many countries around the world. The new Microsoft Surface 2 is a lovely machine..
Android courses are already up and running through Tablet Academy Africa and will also be offered to the UK and Europe very soon. With Google introducing the new Play Store for Education and working with tablet manufacturers (including Asus and HP) to pre-install Google Apps for Education, there is more significant investment into the Android platform. The devices are usually less expensive than iPads and so appeal to those with tighter or more limited budgets. In most cases, this in no way diminishes their value in the classroom and for learning.
So if you are a school, college, or university, browse the new website, and get in touch with Tablet Academy to discuss your training needs. Local Education Authorities, districts and provinces can take advantage of even better pricing by becoming Tablet Academy regional training centres and accessing a whole range of benefits including software and cloud service discounts and free training places on all courses they run, MediaCore being just one of these. All the trainers are teachers with expertise in using mobile devices in learning and teaching. They are usually all local and so in Scotland for example, they will have direct experience of working with A Curriculum for Excellence across all sectors and subjects. It is this local capacity which perhaps sets them apart from other training businesses offering their services to education establishments.
And if you’re interested in working for Tablet Academy anywhere in the world, they are always on the look out for experienced educators with classroom experience of using mobile devices to enhance learning and teaching so have a look at the website and get in touch…
(as with all the posts on this blog, readers are advised to note the contents of my standard disclaimer)
Filed under: capacity-building, change, CPD, GLOW, GlowPlus, ICT, teaching and learning Tagged: ADE, android, APD, Apple, Google, Google Apps for Education, Google Play Store, iPads, Microsoft, mobile devices, Office 365, Pam Currie, Sharepoint., Steve Molyneux, Surface 2, Surface Pro 2, Tablet Academy Africa, Tablet Academy Scotland, Tablet AcademyUK, Tablets, Windows 8, XMA
A great post on iPad use. I’m a huge fan of the power of the iPad to transform classroom practice and learning. When you add this to their fantastic education support package, I think the Apple tablet is pretty much unbeatable at the moment. We often talk about how it’s not the device that matters, but the teaching. Well, that’s a pretty glib statement to trot out without thinking a little bit about just what a device will do or can achieve and what is in place to support the transformative practice.
I wasn’t always an apple fan but things change, and it’s always worth reappraising your views from time to time. After lots of work, conversations and school visits, I know that it’s now a situation of..iPads and the rest. The ‘rest’ is the Android and windows tablets which are not gaining much traction with teachers and students at the moment. This might change if the manufacturers start to match the complete Apple package and Samsung look to be heading in this direction with their Smart School product and plans to develop apps and resources in the pipeline. Until then, it’s going to be a difficult road for other tablets in education, particularly in Scotland and the rest of the UK
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: android, Apple, Classroom, iPads, Learning and teaching, mobile devices, School, Tablets, Windows
Apple has a competitor in the tablet education content arena. But will it be a strong enough offering to take away business from the market leader?
At long last, the there is a new kid on the block. I recently looked at Samsung’s Smart School offering at the African Education Week exhibition. Essentially it’s rather like Apple TV in the way it links a class set of tablets ( Samsung Galaxy) with an eBoard screen and the class teacher who is able to push content and assessment, as well as control activity on each pupil’s tab and show work on the eBoard screen.
Samsung are promising content too. Thy’ve hooked up with education publishers to provide this. But there’s a strong emphasis on consumption here. I’m uncomfortable with the apparent lack of creation apps for education.
I guess what I’m asking though is will it be enough to make a dent in Apple’s education business? After all, the iLife content creation suite of tools is outstanding and highly rated by educationalists who use it. Added to this is the content available through iTunesU and the education support service, and you have a pretty unbeatable overall package.
Samsung have made a start in competing with Apple for the lucrative education business. But with the vast majority of schools in Scotland purchasing iPads rather than Android devices through the XMA procurement framework, they still have a steep hill to climb…
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: African Education Week, android, Apple, Apple TV, eBoard, Education, Galaxy, iPad, Samsung, Samsung Smart School, Tablets, XMA
A very interesting article.
I was given some interesting figures recently. Although these are restaurant napkin calculations, so don’t take them as absolutely accurate… Apparently, to equip all late stage primary and secondary pupils and their teachers in Scotland with iPads could cost in the order of £ £25 Million a year (including servicing and upgrades). I suppose the question has to be asked about effective use of resources. Spending on current ICT projects including Glow vs state 1:1 provision.
Might this be a debate we should be having?
Filed under: GLOW, GlowPlus, ICT, politics, teaching and learning Tagged: 1:1, Apple, GLOW, GlowPlus, ICT, ICTEx, iPad, Tablet devices, Tablets, Technology
A brief summary of our 1:1 project so far. In August 2012 we rolled out 140 Toshiba AT-100 Android devices to our entire S1 cohort as part of a pilot 1:1 tablet program for Edinburgh Council. The project has been very successful and we have seen some fantastic ways in which learning has changed for this year group. For more detail on the initial stages of the project, see the blog posts summarising each of the 4 phases: Planning, Preparation, Implementation and Review. There have also been very positive media articles via STV online and Edinburgh Evening News. Hull University have been evaluating the project on behalf of the authority and their interim report has also been exceptionally positive.
Given this positive impact, we have now started the planning process for a second phase with a view to rolling out 1:1 mobile devices to a further year group. I have spent the past 3 months trying to decide what the best platform for this next roll out should be listening to the views of staff, students and various online discussions on Twitter. I have always said that it is important when planning any 1:1 project to identify the most suitable platform at the time of roll-out, and to be prepared to change path in subsequent phases if necessary. After all, so much can happen in the mobile technology market in the space of 12 months.
When we were planning the first phase of our 1:1 program, there were only three realistic options for us to consider: iPad, Android tablets or Netbooks. A year on, the Netbook has all but died away but we now have four potential platforms to choose from: iPad, Android tablets, Windows tablet PCs and Chromebooks. I personally don’t think either Windows or Chromebooks offer a solution yet. Windows mobile solution is still playing catch up and Chromebooks lack the richness of apps that are available for iOS/Android.
When we initially evaluated the mobile platforms early in 2012, the word was that Glow 2 was going to be built around Google Apps. It seemed to me at the time that Android / Google Apps integration would be a sensible way to go forward. Of course, as it turned out Google pulled the plug on their Glow bid at the 11th hour and we are now awaiting a solution based on MS365. It’s not a critical problem, but it was one of the advantages that Android had going for it at the time, and it’s not one it has now. However Android has become a serious contender to iOS in my opinion, and it’s certainly a viable mobile OS for the classroom. Google Play meets our needs and it’s easy enough to download and install apps. The question is, does Android and Android hardware give us the best solution?
As things stand right now, I think that the answer is no, and that after much consideration iPad / iOS is the platform which best meets the needs of our secondary learners. There are two fundamental reasons why I believe we need to change from Android tablets to iPads this year:
1. Availability of rich learning content
All too regularly I come across a fantastic app only to discover that it’s available only for iOS and not Android. I don’t have an exact figure, but I would guess that maybe one third of the educational apps are designed for iOS only (some great examples are GarageBand, Explain Everything, Foldify, KeyNote, Puppet Pals, Brushes, Geoboard to name but a few). Of course that might change in the future as Android continues to catch up, but as things stand this is a problem.
2. Device (and company) robustness
As I highlighted in my previous 1:1 posts, Toshiba (note: Toshiba and not Android) have let us down. Badly. The project this year has been hampered by a return to base warranty issue which has meant that at times we were without 20% of all devices and the time to repair was on average a completely unacceptable 4-5 weeks. This was down to a manufacturing / build fault, but despite numerous requests for support Toshiba spent 6 months saying there was nothing they could do. Would Apple have sat back if one fifth of their devices rolled out to a school were faulty? I doubt it, and I doubt Apple would allow such build faults to get past their quality control processes. (I should point out that 7 months into the project Toshiba finally visited our school to review all devices, but in my opinion this was too little too late). Would other Android companies such as Asus or Samsung be any different to Toshiba? Possibly, but I don’t know.
Just to be absolutely clear, I am neither an Apple or Android promoter, I just want to ensure we are providing the best educational tech tools to meet the needs of our learners. Currently, in my opinion the iPad is the tablet device which best meets our needs. And next year? Well, who knows…
(I will, however, be sticking with my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone however, as it is way better than an iPhone!).