I received a tweet a couple days ago asking why I still believed laptops, in this case MacBooks, are the right choice for middle school and high school students.

Now before I begin, let me state that I firmly believe a 1:1 (one computer per student) program no matter what the connected device (device connected to the Internet) is better than no 1:1 program at all. If a school can only afford an iPad for ever student then that’s the best choice.

However, many schools, especially here internationally and private schools in the states, have the option to buy either an iPad or a MacBook and for them I am recommending MacBooks for Middle School and High School 1:1 programs.

Consumption vs Creation

by umpcportal.com

At the end of the day the iPad is designed for the consumption of information. This is not the shift I’m looking for in education. Yes…you can create some things on the iPad but it doesn’t take long to max out the iPad’s creative potential. I am not talking creating music, or taking a video. I’m talking the mashup of videos from different sources, the creation of music from different sources as well as the programs and apps I want students to be creating today.

Apple sees the iPad as a consumption device, and it does a really really good job of it, giving the consumer a beautiful interface to consume through. Apple’s latest announcement where they unveiled iBook Author I think just makes this point stronger. You create the textbook, or any book for that matter, on the computer and you consume the information on the iPad. As much as I want digital textbooks, what I really want is students to create their own books.

For middle school and high school students I want them creating sophisticated projects, I want them collaborating, like I’m doing today on a Google Doc using the built in chat feature. I want them making apps, videos, and music…not the kind that get a couple views, but the kind that go viral.

If you want to plan for the future

by torres21

Now if you really want to plan for the future, and by that I mean the next two years, then students should have both an iPad and a MacBook. I know one school who is looking at this option and I believe that’s the future.The iPad and tablets will are changing the way we consume information no doubt about it. We need to be preparing students to consume information that is digital, updated, and constantly changing.

We also want need creators and that’s where I love to focus my time. We do a really good job in schools have kids consume information, we don’t do a very good job of having them create new information out of what they are learning.

My Perfect School

I’ve been asked on several occasions what my perfect school looks like. Today as it stands in January 2012 this would be my perfect school.

PreK – 1st Grade: 1 iPad for every two students: iPads stay at school owned and managed by the school.

2 – 3rd Grade: 1:1 iPad program: Each student has their own iPad and iPads primarily stay at school and can be checked out by the parents to take home if need/wanted.

4th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: The iPads are allowed to be taken home and are tied to a guardians account. The school purchases a set of “standard apps” anything above that is up to the parents. The laptops stay at school and can be checked out by the parents to take home if need/wanted.

5th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: Same as 4th grade however the students at some point during the year gain the responsibility of taking both the iPad and the Laptop home. 5th Grade is a great time to do this because:

  • In 5th grade students still only have one classroom teacher. This sense of classroom community is a great place to talk about responsibility and practice it.
  • A good time to practice taking care of your devices before hitting middle school where students have 4 to 6 different classes in 4 to 6 different classrooms with 4 to 6 different teachers.
  • Allow students to learn to organize their digital lives so they are not trying to figure this out at the same time they are learning a new “schooling” system of lockers, freedom and multiple classes.

6 -12th Grade: 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Laptop: Both devices become the sole responsibility of the student. The school loads a “standard” set of software on all devices and the students/parents are responsible for managing the rest.

Of course there are a lot of things “schooling” that would need to change too and trying to bring this into a school that already is established and has a history would be messy…very messy, which is why most administrators won’t attempt it.

But if I was starting a new school today….this would be the given and every parents would know from day one what we’ll be using and here’s what we would expect from the students and from the parents as their responsibility for learning.

I find myself sitting here in Kota Kinabaul, Malaysisa reflecting on what has been a 5 country, I don’t know how many presentation, month. From Bahrain to Iowa with Asia and Australia in between, it’s been an amazing month of travel and I find myself thinking and reflecting on all I’ve been talking about and learning along the way.

So here’s my brain dump of themes that keep emerging for me:

The future is mobile

Whether in the heartland of America, or the deserts of the Middle East and Africa, moble phones are the future of connectivity. We’re also seeing this with Apple’s iPad and the ability to connect to a 3G connection. My guess….every mobile device in 3 years will have the built in ability to connect via a celluar network. We’re already doing this, but it will just become part of the hardware of every mobile device. What this will do to/for places like Africa and a large part of the developing word I can only imagine…….but it excites me.

Society expects us to be connected

I’ve been preaching this everywhere this month as it came out of the TED Talk I did back in September. i think we need to stop making excuses for all of us spending to much time connected and just realize this is now the world we live in. Once we own this fact then we can start having some deep discussions around how do we teach in this new society, how do we communicate, and how do we live in a world that is constantly connected? We continue to have conversations about being “balanced” and I agree that we need to find ways to get off the computer and get reconnected with nature. But balance in the term of 50/50 is not going to happen and it hasn’t been that way for a long time. TVs are in our homes, gaming systems have been around now for 30 years, and we all have a cell phone or soon will. We are now in a time where being connected is the norm and being disconnected is not. We need to make this shift in our thinking. We need to consiously think about disconnecting, taking trips with no connective devices, which goes again societies rules right now and that’s what makes it difficult. A goal of every family should be to take 1 trip a year with no connective device. The only screen that should be allowed is a GPS. Everything else stays at home. I’m not talking just about the kids I’m talking the whole family which is where parents start shaking their heads. They think kids should do this but not them…….and that is not setting the example we need. Disconnecting is good, it’s healthy, and we need to model that.

Standards are past their prime

Here comes the tomatos! This recent post by Clarence Fisher just drives home the point for me. Standards can’t keep up in a constantly changing landscape that no one can predict what the content is students will need in the future. When content is free and open we need to focus on skills, concepts and dispositions. Content based outcomes after 2nd grade are useless and continue to change faster than the curriculum review cycles of our schools. I don’t know how many times in the past 5 years I’ve heard “We’ll fix that in our next curriculum review cycle” meanwhile for 3, 4, or 5 years, depending on your review cycle, we’re teaching stuff we don’t believe in or know is not relavent to students in a digital, always on socieity.

Using my school as an example….I beleive the only outcomes we need for any lesson are these factors that my school has agreed upon:

Learning is the primary focus of our school and we recognize learning as a life-long adventure. We value meaningful learning where students construct enduring understanding by developing and applying knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Increased understanding is evidenced by students who:

– Explain its relevance

– Describe how it connects to or conflicts with prior learning

– Communicate it effectively to others

– Generalize and apply it effectively to new situations

– Reflect critically on their own and other’s learning

– Ask questions to extend learning

– Create meaningful solutions

If every lesson, everything we did with kids focused on this, we’d be much better off and we’d return true power of teaching back to teachers.

Socially Connected World

We live in a socailly connected word. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or the next thing that comes along there is no turning back. As social-networks become part of our culture they are affecting the way we do bussiness (foursquare) the way we look for jobs and employees (92% of empolyers now use or plan to use social-networks) and how we communitcate with our friends and relatives. We know that learning is social, we know kids are going to need to understand how to get into college, or get a job being part of a social-network. So let’s start using them rather than continute to make excuses for not. FYI “We MIGHT get sued.” is an excuse.

Conferences Handouts are Changing

I use to use my own wiki for handouts. This year I haven’t had to use it once. Each conference I’ve gone to has had their own wiki, or site to put digital material one….well all except this admin conference I’m at now. But even I’m finding the wiki hard to keep up on, so I’ve moved to just creating a tag or using a tag I already have in Diigo and just giving that as the link to resources. For example, my talk on why we should be teaching students Facebook (read that as social-networking) in schools tomorrow is just using my Diigo tag of Facebook. Easy to update and I can update the list as the presentation is going on. I think this also shows a difference in my presentation style where I’m being much more convesation based and less giving of content. You can view the content when you want/have time. I only have you for 60 minutes and we need to have a discussion on why you aren’t doing these things, or what your fears are.

Social Media Community Manager

In many of the conversations I’ve been having someone also brings up “Who’s job is it to monitor all this stuff? I mean the schools Facebook Page, the Wikipedia entry, the Twitter account, the YouTube account, etc, etc.?

This a great question and my response is, and will be tomorrow to admin here in Asia, that we need a new position in our schools. We need Social Media Community Managers. A quick Google Search brought up some great job discriptions that any school could use to get started. I might write my own for schools when I get a change. This isn’t a new position in the business world, but is a new concept to education. I do think it’s time that we hire people or put someone in charge of managing our online school communities. Someone who has deep knowledge of social-networks and can get the most value out of them for schools.

Well…that’s what has been on my mind this last month…..feel better actually writing it down so I don’t forget. There might be more, but I can feel the jet lag settling in and I’ve gotta talk about Facebook and Twitter tomorrow with administartors……we’re gonna have some fun!

Update: This same process works for iOS 4.2.1 the latest version for the iPhone

Finally….after 3 years of searching for a good plan that short timers that come to the US for business or pleasure can use with their iPhone and take advantage of all it has to offer is here.

Now…of course they don’t make it straight forward as in purchase a SIM Card, drop it in the phone and you’re good to go. No, that would be to easy for the good old phone companies of the USA. They need to make it a little more difficult than that, but it’s not too bad.

First let’s talk about the Pre-Paid Plan.

In October of this year (2010) AT&T launched a new GoPhone service that finally makes sense for short time visitors to use their service while in the US. Their new $2 a day plan for unlimited talk and text is a great deal. Basically as soon as you make or receive a call you are charged $2. But then the rest of the day you can call or text as much as you want for that $2. There is also a Pre-Paid monthly plan for $60 ($2×30)…which is basically the same. But if there is a day you don’t use your phone on the $2 plan then you come out ahead.

Here’s the break down in the new Pre-Paid plans as of October 2010 (download full brochure here):

Now, for those traveling for a short time in the states like I do this works out great. Not the cheapest in the world…but after crunching some numbers it is actually going to be cheaper than my wife’s Pre-Paid plan with T-Mobile that she pays per-minute on.

So Step 1 is to walk into a AT&T store and ask for a GoPhone Plan. You can put money on your account based on how long you plan to stay in the US. Here are the different options:

Now I chose to put $100 on my phone and push it out to a year so that I can keep the same phone number year after year…which is what I’ve been looking for. So I have $100 to spend between now and Oct. of 2012….on the $2/day plan that’s basically 50 days in the next year I have to be in the States. Seeing that I spend a minimum of 60 days in the summer (June/July) in the states this made sense for me and for my family and friends that I’ll have the same phone number year after year.

Step 2: If you want 3G data on your phone so you can be connected when away from WiFi areas then you will also need to add the $19.99 100MB data plan to your account or pay the 1cent per kb used option. (You’ll have to do your own number crunching on this one based on your own use of data)

This again comes by the month. So you can pay for it the month you are in the states. If you are only in the States for a week and you choose to add data then you have 100MB of data to use in a week. For a heavy iPhone user that’s pretty easy to do. For your everyday average user this should be enough data to get you through a month. Just don’t stream to many YouTube videos and you’ll be fine.

Now once you get your SIM Card and you get all connected up I wish I could write and say you were done….but you’re not. AT&T does not technically support unlocked iPhones on their network. It’s not that you can’t set it up to work on their network, their system just won’t auto configure the iPhone for you like most systems do. But thanks to Apple and some resources I found on the Internet you can have this set up and working in about 10 minutes.

Getting AT&T GoPhone Data to work on iPhone/iPad OS4.1

1. Download this iPhone Configuration Utility from Apple’s website. Yes…this is a legit Apple product! PC or Mac

2. Next head over to the blog Blancer.com and follow the steps for creating a new configuration profile for your iPhone.

3. When you get to the point where you need to enter the APN information (Step 4 on the Blancer.com blog) use the information below:

APN: wap.cingular
Password: CINGULAR1

(Thanks to unlock-tmobile blog for this info)

and leave everything else blank and proceed with the instructions on the Blancer.com blog above.

Now you’re done! On your phone under Settings – General you will now see a new option that says Profile that has the AT&T information you need. When you return to your home country just go to Settings – General – Profile and click Remove. That will remove the profile from your phone and allow you to use other SIM Cards from other countries.

I hope this helps you out….as I know many people who have been frustrated with American carriers and there non-support for True Unlocked iPhones worldwide.

As I sit here in my hotel room an hour away from starting my official Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) training this question keeps popping into my head.

Do you support People or Platforms?
Flickr ID: Wader

It’s an interesting question…that I continue to reflect on. We all have strengths and weaknesses in the computer programs/platforms that we know. But do we some time support the platform rather than the people?

Is there a difference?

Can you support people without supporting a platform?

Just some questions that are running through my head as I start my 5 day training on everything Apple.

I’ve been reflecting the last couple days on Apple’s new iPad. The product that, before it’s announcement, some had claim would revolutionize education.

If it does…..it will be a shock to me.

apple-creation-0105-rm-engI have nothing against Apple (I’m typing on a MacBook that I love), I just think this piece of hardware is not what we need in education.

I had high hopes for this new piece of technology. Enough to stay up until 3am on a school night to watch the live announcement. Throughout the keynote, I was waiting to be wowed by something new, something different, something that would allow me to produce content in a new way.

But it didn’t come.

Leading up to the keynote I was watching TWIT.TV and their coverage. I don’t remember who said it, but one of the host said something to the effect of:

“It will be interesting to see what they come out with, when you start with the questions ‘How do we allow people to consumer media?'”

It’s a great question and I think the iPad nails that question on the head. If you want a new way to consume information, it’s a great piece of technology that allows you to do that.

We already have ways to consumer information in education. Consuming information has never been our issue. What we need help with is teaching students how to become producers of information and knowledge.

I wrote about this almost two years ago in a post titled “Moving from Consumers to Producers of Information” and have created a presentation that I give by the same name that has been well received.

I have no doubt that the iPad is a great consumer device, but I want my students to be able to produce videos podcasts and blog posts. I want them to be able to edit wikis with full editing features (Safari browser does not support many WYSIWYG Editors….including the one built in Moodle…an online course program used by a lot of schools). I want my students to becoming producers of knowledge not just consumers of it. We already have ways in which we consume information that work….I think…pretty well.

Apple’s own iPad website states:

The best way to experience the web, email, photos, and videos.

That might be so, but what’s the best way to create web pages, emails, photos, and videos. That’s the device I want. That’s the device I want in the hands of my students!

View from our condo looking south at Mt. Rainer. Can't wait to get back there this summer!
View from our condo looking south at Mt. Rainer. Can't wait to get back there this summer!

Have you ever seen a cat do one of those really long wonderful stretches after a good nap? Well that’s how I’m feeling now after having the last three weeks virtually off the computer as we worked on our condo in Seattle over the holidays. Of course being in the US nobody wants to give you Internet access just for three weeks, it’s all about signing the contract…everyone wants to lock you in to long term deals….very frustrating!

That and the fact that now wireless router companies sell their routers defaulted to be secure rather than unsecured leaves very few open networks to leach off of for a couple weeks. 🙂 So we checked e-mail only when we needed a coffee.

What frustrated us the most though was how much we were use to using my iPhone or cell phones in general to get around, to find things, to get directions, basically to live. Only being in the US for three weeks I didn’t want to have to pay $70 plus a $30 activation fee for my iPhone…that’s just a lot of money. So I decided I could do without it for three weeks…….well….not sure that was the right move either (Just for comparison…in Thailand that same connection for three weeks would have cost me about $50 total depending how much I used the web).

My favorite story came when I went to drop my wife off at Pike’s Place Market to do a little shopping. The plan was simple, I would drop her off, find a place to park and then call her and we’d meet up. Simple except for the fact that I didn’t have a cell phone. Of course this hit us only as she’s getting out of the car. So there we sat in the middle of the road, two highly educated people trying to figure out how to meet up without both of us having a cell phone.

I ended up dropping her off, not parking but rather driving around for 15 minutes and then picking her up again in the same spot.

Of course we could have planned this but sitting in the middle of 1st Ave on a Saturday near Pike’s Place is…well…pressure. 🙂

Then of course there were the countless times we needed directions somewhere and had no way of finding out the best route our even which direction we should head. We both know downtown Seattle OK due to our time there over the last couple of summers, but anywhere out of downtown and we’re lost.

So we ended up writing down addresses, going to the coffee shop pulling up google maps on my laptop finding the directions to the places we needed to go, and then saving those tabs. We would then read the directions to each other as the other one was driving.

The past three years I’ve made a prediction about what I think the new year will bring in the education/technology world and before I started my holiday I was thinking that this year was going to be the year of the mobile web, but afterwards, I’m now convinced it is.

There are three things that make me believe we’re going to see an explosion in the mobile web this year.

1. AT&T and Verizon commercials
2. Google, Apple, Cell Phones Manufactures
3. Media

AT&T and Verizon Commercials
I have a couple of advantages only being in the states about 3 months a year. All those commercials that Americans see over and over again….are fresh and new to me…and we actually like watching them.

But here’s the change. Last summer AT&T commercials were focused on the iPhone, Verizon was focused on their coverage area. This winter all I ever saw were commercials about 3G coverage. The conversation has changed, what they are selling people has changed. No longer is it we have better coverage than those guys or we have a better, newer phone. No, today it’s about the fastest mobile web browsing you can do from your phone. 3G has nothing to do with dropped calls, or the quality of your call, it has nothing to do with SMS (text messaging) and it has everything to do with mobile web access. They are putting all there advertising dollars into selling you the consumer the mobile web.

Google, Apple, Cell Phones Manufactures
Of course you need a new phone that will use that mobile web, and that’s where Google, Apple, and the rest of the cell phone manufactures come in. Google is do to launch it’s own cell phone here in January and already has it’s own mobile operating system that competes head to head with Apple’s iPhone. Apple continues to improve on the iPhone and I can’t wait to see what they roll out this year. You then have Nokia and their N series mobile web phones and Motorola gets in the mix with the Droid.

And this is only the beginning. Again what the consumer is going to get hit over the head with is not how great the call reception is, it’s going to be about how cool it looks and how fast it loads mobile web pages.

Of course all of this is being and will continue to be driven by the media. Whether through advertisements like AT&T and Verizon, or through TV shows were more and more shows feature web enabled phones, or through every TV News, Show, Reality TV, etc ending with Twitter, Facebook, Websites, or some other mobile way you can interact with their product or show.

It’s all about connecting, and this year it will be about connecting via the mobile web.

Of course this is my prediction, which means absolutely nothing, making it all the more fun to predict what I think this year will bring. 🙂 (But I don’t think I was to far off in ’07, ’08 or ’09)

What does all this mean for education? It means were probably about two or three years out before every one of our students is coming to school with the entire web in their pockets. They’ll all be upgrading over the next two to three years as their contracts run out and the service providers allow them to upgrade. With new mobile web phones at the $99 price now in two or three years we’ll see them even lower and they just will be what we expect.

In the mean time lets work on getting every student in every school a laptop which I still believe should be our ultimate goal. Giving every student the power to access information as they learn is what learning is all about!

Bring on 2010!

A Kiwi friend of mine sent this my way today. Not sure if others have seen this, but new on my radar.

Axiotron Modbook

High-tech hardware solution provider Axiotron today introduced two new configurations of the Modbook™, its award-winning tablet Mac computer for creative professionals. The new configurations, available immediately, include 2.1 GHz or 2.4 GHz Intel Core™ 2 Duo processors and 120GB or 160GB 5400-rpm hard drives, respectively, making the Modbook up to twice as fast and powerful as any slate-style tablet PC.



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