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The Ice-Cream Competition

Imagine if I took my children to an ice-cream bar for a triple scoop but made them choose only one flavour. See the look on their faces as they cast their eyes over the vast array of flavours. Watch them silently mouthing each enticing name and then knit their brow as they mentally play out a competition only one flavour can win. A case for social services for sure!

In the case of ice-cream it seems reasonable to allow a child to sample more than one. After all, everyone should know their favourite ice-cream flavour.

To put it simply, ice-cream is the premise of my argument. Competition between Apple, Microsoft and Google has yielded some amazing developments. However, since we have three a three scoop ice-cream, I suggest we use all three flavours. Trying to select one technology platform is misguided. No technology will provide all the answers. Competition between these technology giants has brought about significant improvements. The benefits for learners are huge. Below is a quick look at the Good and the Bad.

The Good

Schools love free things. Microsoft 365 is free. Google Apps for Education (GAfE) is free. Apple Classroom is free. Good so far.

Microsoft Apple Google Competition EducationMicrosoft OneNote is a game changer. Combine it with a tablet device and a stylus and you have the most flexible note taking app imaginable.

Apple EducationApple Classroom is another game changer. Now teachers can work with class sets of iPads that are used by more than one student. And, let’s face it, for creative work the iPad is a tough one to beat.

Google have a really neat process for setting, monitoring, collecting and markingGoogle Education learner assignments that is really easy to use. From the teacher’s perspective it is very easy to use and productivity is very fast.

The Bad

It takes time and quality research to plan a strategy for change in technology. A lot of my work involves shifting culture before we can even look at the ICT. Fear of failure restricts education. I hear a lot about the need to balance freedom with e-safety and good discipline. It makes perfect sense.

Talk about balance in most environments and a period of sage nodding automatically ensues. The trick is to develop policies that are not driven by fear. Start with the end in mind. Establish all the required outcomes, including e-safety and discipline and then see how technology can enhance the outcomes. Do not let fear cloud your thinking.

I believe young people need to be comfortable with a range of technologies. Limiting them to one flavour may be tidy and convenient but it is not the way education works. I suggest that it is not in the interests of young people to compete for their attention. At best their needs are not properly met by a balanced and broad curriculum.

Welcome to the GAME (Google Apple Microsoft Education)

Combining Microsoft, Apple and Google platforms in education is not ugly but it is messy. Messy is difficult to live with but often yields creativity. Creativity is the Holy Grail of education. For the sake of young people these titans need to lay down their weapons in the field of education and combine efforts. Putting aside competition would help schools to provide a broad, technologically rich, learning experience.

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