The Leap of Faith – Android to iOS

I’ve always been a Windows fan. I built my own Workhorse computer with Windows 7 and have had no problems. I edit HD video for my personal enjoyment and tons of SD video for my community television job. I’ve been holding out on the Apple products because of the high pricing, and the obvious popularity contest associated with it. Slowly, my second job in community television has gone to a completely Mac system — not solely out of choice, but because of the donations given to us by a local college.

Who knew that Adobe Premiere, my video editor of choice, did not require as much rendering as did the Final Cut versions I remember on the G4 Macs of yesterday. Using Mac Minis and a slightly older MacBook Pro, I’m not completely sold on Macs yet. Some iMacs made their way into my classroom, too, this past month. Hmm…we’ll see. More on that later

Android and iOS.

I have an outdated Droid 1. While it was a powerhouse in its day, I have nothing but lag problems with it now. Of course any NEW device will trump an old one. The device is running apps designed for dual- and quad-core systems now. So I’m looking to upgrade that soon. Will I choose the Nexus Razor Max, Droid 4 or the iPhone 5?  More on THAT later…

I picked up a Motorola Xoom tablet for my classroom in the fall. I like the tablet experience somewhat, but learning it has been somewhat of a chore. Sure, it’s nice to read some news, watch a few videos and read my Facebook, but I couldn’t run Words With Friends — a real drag. Our school LMS doesn’t fit the screen very well. VHS — an online LMS I use for my professional development — has been difficult, too. It does much of what I want with student research and writing in GoogleDocs. Pairing it with my video projector was a bit difficult. I was able to convert the HDMI video to DVI using a few adapters.  It stripped the audio because the HDMI is an audio line as well, and a DVI connector does not support audio. Hmm. So I thought maybe the device would still play audio. No it does not. Immediately I knew a projector with HDMI inputs is what I needed.

I enjoyed Google’s short run at the developer program, App Inventor. Those simple building blocks made creating apps child’s play. The good news is that they turned it over to real educators at MIT. They know how to teach kids how to make applications with their Scratch program. App Inventor should mesh well with their Scratch program nicely. I can’t wait till the re-release of the App Inventor this spring.

I’ve also been doing more and more research on the options of cheaper and smaller units with 7-inch screens. There is something about 10 inches that is too much for a portable device that is not a laptop. The bottom line: what is practical, affordable and can adapt to the situations you are in?

A vision for fair review

I knew my narrow focus of Android would soon have to be challenged by my own curiosity. I always believed that truth comes from knowing very well what is not true. So I knew that I needed to explore the iOS as well. While the developer program is costly, I do believe I need to get over it. With help from a grant I won through the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators group, or MASSCUE, I’ve been able to get an iPad, an Apple TV, and the developer package. I want to do an in-depth comparison of both platforms from the standpoint of an educator and developer.

Very nicely, the iPad will stream all of its content to the Apple TV and allow the teacher or student to walk around the room. This is a cost savings for schools that have not yet filled all of their classrooms with Smart Boards. Not only would this serve as a Smart Board alternative for one user, but many students would be able to tap the AirPlay button, and demonstrate what is on their screens at any time. Whereas Smart Boards are not real-world tools (students are getting a proprietary simulation that they may never see in real world) the iPad, combined with Apple TV, is a cost-effective, SMART approach to education.

I intend on updating this blog more as this exploration unfolds. My research is to be shared. My experiences with the iPad and Android in education can help schools make choices that are going to provide not only cost savings, but a choice that has few restrictions with platform loyalty.

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