Thursday, 4 October 2012

Google Course Builder: Pythons and Apples

Android vs Apple

A school decides that that pupils can keep their mobile devices on.  This may go against most school policies but will become more common.  This is the choice of a Federation of schools in Cambridge.  They have gone down the route of having work available on the website.  IPods are the device of choice.  IPads would be even better.  Having a niece attending the Federation the cost implication is something that this of concern.

The cost of using the mobile device for data transfer is prohibitive if it with 3G connection.  The coverage in East Anglia is quite sparse outside the A12 and A14 corridor.  So WiFi hot-spots would be the connection of choice.  The so called free WiFi operated by most internet providers are not actually free as you have to be a subscriber to that IP.  "Public" WiFi within a school usually requires a key or Login, a bit like a Fon account.  In Cambridge there is a cheaper alternative the Cambridge Matrix outside of school, allegedly there are many places in Cambridge where access is actually free.

Assuming the connection you have is cost effective what should parents be consulted on if they are being asked to buy the device that enables the education.  The choice is obviously now between two platforms Apple based or Android based.  The speed which Apple appears to be turning out new products is a bit like a post cold war arms race.  Can parents afford to have the most recent Apple incarnation?  Question need also to be asked on the reliability of the technology and ethos of releases  as Apple struggle with complaints of  handset   quality and access to Apps. This also against the background of the reliability of Apple suppliers as their Chinese suppliers experience industrial unrest!

Android is available across a number of different suppliers.  The solutions are often cheaper than Apple's and may with Android based operating systems have greater longevity.  The use of  an Android fork version by Amazon for it's Kindle Fire tablets, Google's own Nexus.  The Nook (Barnes and Noble's) offering also provide some new insights to 21st Century digital classrooms.  The big question is what is driving this the needs of the students or needs of the needs of the companies' to establish their product as the must have educational tool to exclusion of other platforms.  

Sitting in the background is the Software giant Microsoft.  I can consider myself one of the first generation of IT literate teachers to be trained.  Owing to the nature of Geography and the School Centrered Initial Teacher Training Course in 1996 to 1997 we were provided with Laptops.  In conjunction with BT had the possibility of using video conferencing to link up schools and training sites in the hinterland of the north east Essex coast.  The Microsoft Academy status of some schools has in my limited experience of being attached to a said Microsoft Academy had not been implemented across whole school.  Looking at the website again it appears to be again a system designed for large organisations and expensive laptop and PC solutions with  limited portability between institutions unless you are a licensed Microsoft Academy or educator.

So the choice.  On strictly cost basis both for educator and student the route of Android would seem to be most likely to promote longevity of resource relevance both technological and economically.  This is also a consideration as the nature of classrooms change for 11 to 18 year olds where the educator does not need to be in front of the pupils all the time.  Investment in buildings is increasingly becoming a concern in the UK, the size and shape of schools is proposed to be standardised.  Digital classrooms and virtual classrooms will increasingly be looked at especially by rural education providers.  As school transport becomes more expensive educating pupils in their own neighborhood in smaller groups in rural areas may become an option for part of the week.  The term Teleschooling may become an everyday term. 

So more Google Course builder investigation.  Today I am downloading Python and preparing to have a go at my first coding in the next few days.

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