In preparing for an upcoming district wide conference I was given the task of helping teachers go beyond just the simple Google Docs. There is so much that Google can offer but many teachers have a hard time going beyond the basic Google integration. In this presentation I tackled the issues of reasons for going beyond Google, consumption over creation, purposeful integration, and the importance of giving out students the very important skills (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and inquiry) they need to succeed in life. In this presentation I gave the educators at this conference ideas for each of the Google products that students can and should be creating. As always below is the link for this presentation and feel free to email me if you have any questions!
I had an old friend tell me the other day that iPads were for consumption and Chromebooks were best for creation. I don't know if she is Pro iPad or Pro Chromebook but the fact that she feel this way only shows me how far we still have to go in helping teachers understand. What are we helping teachers understand? I work with teachers on a daily basis and I try, I really try to help them to understand that it's not about the device, it's about what you do with it. Teachers constantly want the latest and greatest technology and I understand that, who wouldn't! The problem is the teachers have no idea what they will do with it and in turn the students end up just consuming information. Students can consume information anytime, anywhere, and on any device BUT students can also create anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Teachers need to come to the realization that they are the ones that decide how the students use their devices and what they do on those devices. The teachers are the ultimate decision makers in that classrooms, they plan the lessons, and they decide what activities/lessons the students are doing on their devices or on worksheets. The teachers decide whether iPads or Chromebooks are used for creation or consumption NOT the devices. But how do we get them to understand that?
iPads are such great tools but are they for my district? Chromebooks are a cheaper device but is Chrome all we want to offer our students? Laptops tend to require a lot of work and installing software but we're not tied to Google or Microsoft or Apple so should we go that route?
All of these are questions that I am frequently asked by the many district administrators and educators that I work with. All of these are great questions and while I know I frustrate so many of the individuals I talk to I can't say which is better. iPads are and do tend to be better for the younger grades, students can easily carry these devices from room to room, they tend to last longer than Chromebooks do, and you can run chrome or safari on these. When it comes to iPads you are not limited to one tool, you can use Apple products, Microsoft products, or Google products; this being a huge benefit of iPads. A few of the teachers and school districts that I work with are even writing their own curriculum in iBooks so that students can have the textbook on their iPad. Why does this matter? When you have a district where over 50% of your students do not have the internet at home, having access to the textbook, tools, and resources while at home is huge. Chromebooks are much cheaper than iPads, allowing districts to buy these by the dozen instead of a few at a time. Chromebooks are easier to share between students, so not ever student needs their own device and Chromebooks offer keyboards so students can practice their typing skills. Chromebooks integrate very well for districts that are already using Google Apps, these devices are quick to sign on and even offer the tablet style depending on the style you get. Laptops offer endless possibilities because you are not tied into one web browser or office tool (Google or Microsoft). Students can share devices, and software can easily be pushed out the various devices and even individual students.
So which device is the best?
All of them or none of them depending on how you use them. I say this to every district administrator I speak with, it doesn't matter what technology you have (latest or greatest) if you aren't using it appropriately there is no point in having it. Teachers have and will always want whatever technology they don't have (if you give them iPads they want Chromebooks, if you give them Chromebooks they want iPads) but it's not about the technology you have it's about what you do with the technology. Are you students using it for creation or collaboration OR are they just using it for consumption? There isn't a device out there that doesn't offer students the ability to create or collaborate with others but there also isn't a device out there that doesn't offer students the ability to consume information. It all comes back to the teacher in the classroom and what he or she chooses to do with these devices. You can have the latest and greatest technology but if you choose to just simply use it for consumption nothing, I repeat nothing in your classroom will change.
Jennifer L. Furey
My name is Jennifer and I work for one of Ohio's Ed Tech Organizations. We are a non-profit organization that services mostly Central Ohio however we do tend to travel around Ohio for our PD and conferences. Prior to this position I taught second and third grade reading for six years and then became a technology integration specialist for a little over a year.