Nov 082012
apple seek to dominate schools and education

If you watch a group of students waiting for the school bus one notable thing that stands out is how they struggle with the slab of books stuffed into their backpacks.

Just taking the health and safety concerns of effects of several kilos of textbooks on young spines makes the idea of giving students tablet computers attractive. But are we risking locking our schools into the walled gardens and corporate policies of Apple, Amazon and the ebook publishers?

Apple certainly see education as being the key area with their product keynote two weeks ago being peppered with references to how great the iPad and iPad Mini are for schools, students and educators.

In an anti-Apple rant – something becoming common among tech journalists fed up of being rudely treated by Apple’s PR people – Current magazine’s Patrick Avenell describes one PR executive’s interview for a media relations job at Apple’s Australian office.

“It was the most bizarre job interview I’ve ever had,” this executive said. “I was asked what my perception of Apple was, and I said all the usual stuff like ‘innovative, design focused, forefront of technology’, and I was told that was completely wrong — It was all about education and learning.”

That focus on education hasn’t been missed by schools as dozens of private schools are issuing tablet computers to replace student laptops and state schools have started experimenting with them. My local public school’s Parents & Citizens group has funded some as a pilot for their students.

Most of these tablet computers are iPads and the much of the take up is driven by the gushing media coverage of Apple’s devices. Often schools aren’t considering alternatives to the iPad or whether tablet computers are appropriate at all.

Audrey Watters at Hack Education has a very critique of the media’s role in promoting iPads and her points about Digital Rights Management and product lifecycles are pertinent.

The product lifecycle aspect is something that should concern parents and school administrators – these are not cheap purchases with tablet computers costing between $250 and $700 each and few of them will stand up to more than two years of constant use, particularly when being thrown around in school bags.

Should a tablet last two years, it will probably be superseded at the end of that time, which is a good illustration of the risks of being locked into a walled garden.

On top of the ongoing replacement costs of tablet computers, the cost of licensing ebooks threatens to be higher than traditional books as each student’s tablet requires its own license for each book rather than the school owning a set and giving copies out to the class studying the text each year.

The ebook also kills second hand books book market and gives text book companies a nice recurring income which is why educational publishers like Pearson and McGraw-Hill are so enthusiastic about putting their titles onto tablet computers.

Anybody who tries to circumvent the control of Apple or any other tablet manufacturer risks being stripped of their devices as a lady in Norway found when Amazon’s computer decided she had done something wrong.

That was by no means the first time such a thing had happened, in 2009 Amazon removed George Orwell’s 1984 from the Kindle store which meant the title disappeared from their customers’ tablets.

Along with being obsessed with corporate intellectual property rights – there is a difference to the rights of authors – tech companies bring their own morality onto their products.

While some educators may share Facebook’s revulsion towards nipples and breastfeeding, having titles deleted mid term because of a DRM snafu or change in corporate policy is not something that leads to good outcomes, or wise expenditure of scarce funds.

It may be that tablet computers are the right choice for schools and iPads are the right models to deliver the ebooks, but like all technology choices there are real maintenance and lifecycle costs along with management risks which may not seem obvious at first.

At a time when schools are being constrained by budget cuts, it would be a tragedy to waste billions and lock a generation of educators into one or two company’s technology platforms and licensing structures.

We need to consider these costs and risks very carefully before we choose to lock students into the corporate worlds of Apple, Amazon or Google.

  2 Responses to “Should we trust our kids to Apple?”

  1. […] a standard education tool, but are we risking our schools being locked into a walled garden?See on Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  2. Where do you want to start this? Sorry used a lot of short-forms as these days, most tech areas including Twitter would have it and besides I had posted this to friends. Before fb n other social media n apps POTENTIAL all written from 2nd para (abt PRIVACY AND SETTINGS written 2nd last para and PROMOTIONS last para), what would any 1 have to say for all these below including potential of fb n other social networks/media, apps world, cloud computing, gestural tech n so on? things are changing due to tech including IT including social media/networks, apps worlds, cloud computing n so on which are shifting business models, industries n lifestyles. trade shows themselves have virtual reality. then, look at blended learning (distance education n at physical locations)-tech- (50% of high school would have online learning in US by 2019)(that link has the 6 basic types of blended learning where the last 2 types are mostly online). then, self service revolution which came about a century or 2 ago. also, look at virtual offices (the legal and other professions r changing around the global not just due to globalization, balance of work and life but also due to tech including virtual offices).the yuan mayb challenging the us dollar but even the currency is shifting slowly more towards tech as nowadays can use even mobiles to pay for goods. there’s also the electronic cards as well as virtual currency (virtual currencies r mostly used within online world though if i’m right, FB has also used to for real physical products). then, there is also 3D printing, gestural technologies also used at trade shows n so on. some of the potential of fb n other apps esp 3rd party search apps of fb, twitter, linkedin,gmail,salesforce n so on (sorry quite long n sorry use quite a lot of short-forms just like used in any tech). there r 2 apps that r very good at doing searches within fb, twitter, linkedin n other apps like gmail, salesforce n so on – all integrated with pages according to dates. and these 2 apps r for personalised searches though there r other 3rd party search apps that have done it for any random real-time msgs/posts under social networks and apps.

    n now coming to the some/most of FB’s potential along with Cue/Greplin and Kitedesk-Do u think fb can b the info and communication centre while greplin/cue and kitedesk can be more than organisers of different applications’ content like from gmail, facebook, google calendar, salesforce, twitter, linkedin and so on – they can be used for searching information/content via social media and other applications? facebook/fb has docs application within it. that application is MS docs and it was MS’ answer to Google Docs for cloud computing instead of each time getting the MS Office from stores and then saving the application on to the computer. MS Docs has the PDF within it (it’s their customised version because PDF even though was started by Adobe, other firms have their customised versions). FB also has Skype within it because MS owns Skype and MS is a partner as well as an investor of FB. on top of that, there’s the Spotify app n other apps under FB (like Apple, Android n rest). in addition, fb has pages including updates of firms, organisations, news n resources including latest real-time investment quotes and so on. fb like apple, amazon, google, etc have changed business models, industries, lifestyles and so on-they have already taken over the entertainment and publishing worlds, used by marketing, education, health, finance n other sectors. some of the pages on fb r ‘the economist’, ‘ ‘, ‘’, ‘smh’, ‘business insider’, ‘’, ‘global financial data’,’history channel’, ‘national geographic channel’. there r others in other areas-fashion, arts, books, humanities, politics n so on. these pages come from different sites (sometimes the pages maybe started by individuals without sites also). the only issue is not all the updates (articles,news,etc) from these sites r on the fb pages.

    also, greplin/cue and kitedesk have said that they are 3rd party applications which organise different applications’ content from gmail, facebook, google calendar, salesforce, twitter, linkedin and so on according to time n date though they actually do more than just organising people’s social events or schedule-they actually search content even from fb pages as well as from the messages n more from fb , gmail n so on. cue n kitedesk don’t give out an individual’s content on those applications to the public unlike kurrently and other 3rd party social media and apps search. kurrently and other 3rd party search already there though they don’t search like greplin/cue and kitedesk. kurrently and others are like any of the search engines though the search engines use algorithms to give the searches and rank them from page to page while kurrently and other searches with social media (facebook, linkedin, twitter and some apps) just pick any random person’s message and send it off according to date and time (they are organized like greplin/cue and kitedesk). LASTLY, KITEDESK is more than search and organising which cue/greplin does. SO CAN FB b the info and communication centre (if ‘the economist’, ‘ ‘, ‘’, ‘smh’, ‘business insider’, ‘’, ‘global financial data’,’history channel’, ‘national geographic channel’, etc put all the content incl media within fb incl real-time news incl investment/financial quotes)? AND CAN GREPLIN/CUE AND KITEDESK be more than organisers of different applications’ content like from gmail, facebook, google calendar, salesforce, twitter, linkedin and so on – they can be used for searching information/content via social media and other applications?

    IF ABOUT PRIVACY ISSUES WHICH MOST PEOPLE FIND WITH PERSONAL DATA-it’s been going on for decades.2 videos on youtube SHOW THAT-apple’s commercial response to ibm big brother 1984 and The Surveillance Society: 1984 Came 25 Years Late-both videos on YouTube. tech firms NOT ONLY 1s WITH PRIVACY ISSUES-marketing,banks,etc all have-look at TED TALKS-‘tracking the trackers’ video-As you surf the Web, information is being collected about you. Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla gives this video. Customer-centric approach alone finished in 80s and Innovative approach which has controversies with privacy has gone ahead since 80s-cloud computing;virtual reality; social media; apps world; etc have just increased the privacy controversies especially when Apple, Amazon, IBM, Google, FB, etc have those controversies within their defaults THOUGH THE COMPANIES HAVE ALSO PROVIDED SETTINGS TO CHANGE FROM DEFAULTS. use settings incl for creating lists n not getting every1’s updates under news feeds n also for keeping the contact lists separate so that posts in 1 list not shown to the other list + also for not getting news feeds cluttered n so on – fb like any other social network/media, tech n other firm has provided settings – just need to fiddle a bit n use the different features – very useful for enjoying as it has skype, spotify n so on as mentioned before. have my pages under news feeds with few people’s updates under notifications or news feeds-rest under lists and not cluttered news feeds for personal and page news/updates as most personal chats under lists/notifications, not news feeds. also, can use cue n kitedesk for searching. the reason i put all under lists and just few of them under news feeds is because of the status updates (some love using fb like twitter where keep updating their statuses so that’s why have that). also, my close friends’ updates goes under notifications. my acquaintances’ updates as well as my relatives’ updates excluding my gf’s, sis’ and bro’s updates all under lists. my sis’, bro’s and gf’s updates only ones under newsfeeds. i also do use the full potential of fb for these pages-science including health and tech, business, education, politics and so on. in the beginning, they weren’t cluttered but after adding some pages, they have though get all the facebook updates from all pages. CAN SEARCH THE PAGES/UPDATES FROM THE PAGES, INCLUDING MESSAGES AND SO ON THROUGH 3RD PARTY APPS LIKE CUE/GREPLIN AND KITEDESK. i also use SPOTIFY, DOCS APP (MS DOCS INCLUDING PDF-MS’ ANSWER TO GOOGLE DOCS) WITHIN FACEBOOK AND SO ON.


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