Last week I attended iPad Summit USA and this week I am attending the Ontario GAFE Summit. What a difference in the events and the nature of the tools we are exploring! I think it would be fun to reflect on the differences of the conferences and the big differences in the feel of Apple vs Google.
Overall, I think iPads and the Ed Tech Teacher Summit is summed up by being creative and creating while GAFE and the Ontario Summit is more about collecting and collaborating. I think this really reflects the essence of the different tools as well.
Disclaimer: Yes, I realize that you can collaborate with iPads and you can create and be creative with Google products. But, it’s a bit like the way you can buy clothing at Loblaws and groceries at Walmart. To me, when I think Loblaws I think food not affordable fashion and when I think Walmart I think cheap stuff from China and not leafy greens. I recognize that these stores are converging on the products and services they offer much like we see a convergence of services/offerings from Google and Apple.
At the iPad summit there were many sessions focused on creating, being creative and creating learning environments with Apple products and apps in mind. We have digital puppets for story telling, classrooms that are being redesigned with everything on wheels to accommodate mobile learning and the beginnings of maker spaces. We all struggle like crazy to get student creations off the devices, but learners can make really amazing artifacts of learning. Where to store student work, how to share and who has access to the student creations changes from app to app and school to school. Student work sounds a bit like naughty deeds in Vegas. You know, what happens on the iPad, stays on the iPad. Yes, there are solutions including Kidblog.org, Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote, but, not all apps have share functions to each of these spaces. Often student work must be shared through camera roll or email if not directly through the app. It’s a warren of a path to get the data out and it’s unclear who has control of the work once it’s online. We talked about collaboration at the conference generally and specifically, but it was more like all hovering around a device or having a file rally where you have to pass work back and forth to get something that several people worked on. In the end, using an iPad is transformative because of the creative capabilities and easy access to information to get ideas rolling. An iPad, equipped with certain apps, feels like being in the middle of a wonderfully magical craft-store-puppet-costume-closet where learners can conjure multi-modal or multi-media artifacts that are dazzling. The workshops had this feeling too. Many people talked about journeys, paths, redefining, creativity, creation and possibilities. It was a dreamy space for ultra rich media and exploration. Plus, the keynotes felt like pep rallies and calls to action: Ra-Ra Passion and gimme a C-R-E-A-T-E! Energizing and big. Loved it!
While many sessions felt like exploring an art supply shop mixed with a magic suitcase, the sessions I have attended so far at GAFE feel like going to Rona, Home Depot or a lumber yard. Equally empowering and enticing, but with a totally different feel. With Google products, you have to be an all star like Ken Shelton @k_shelton or Jim Still @mistersill, to make your work really dazzling without huge amounts of time, sweat and large amounts of coffee. (Small correction: Ken Shelton did a pretty darn good job of teaching us how to make super nice websites with Google, but he said “I am going to teach you how to make a google site that doesn’t look like a google site” **enough said**). It is hard to make beautiful things with Google, but you can make really, really, really good boxes. Those boxes can be any size and anyone can work in those boxes. The boxes can hold any number of things. Plus, if you are really clever (and can run scripts), those boxes can talk to each other. Yes, there are circles, but those are just round boxes. Google is really about a sturdy and robust way to build space to work together, share ideas and manage data, all kinds of data. The sessions have this feel of being highly pragmatic. This is not to say that it is all button pushing since there is a clear focus on assessment, professional development, user/student generated content and pedagogy. For a conference that deals mostly with cloud computing, it’s a very grounded feeling. There is far less talk of journeys, learning spaces, possibilities and creativity. But, there is a far greater focus on weaving tools together and bringing people/learners together. Collaborating and collecting is at the forefront. I love this too.
I am looking forward to “worming the Apple” in my classroom and finding more ways to use Google products on the iPads. After all, creativity and collaboration are both important C words in the current century.
Michael Fullan’s 6 Cs from the Great to Excellent report:
- critical thinking