Friday, June 23, 2017

Apple vs. Google

I don't consider myself to be especially tech savvy but put a device in front of me, allow me to play around with it for awhile and chances are, I can figure out how to make it useful in my life. 

In my teaching life, I have had very little technology to speak of unless I go get it for myself (I have written grants for iPods and tablets for use in my classroom). This year, with some extra laptops and some tablets from Donor's Choose, I was able to actually integrate technology more than I ever have. (I suppose you can really only integrate technology when you have some, right? :)

We experimented with Google Classroom a bit and I liked the capabilities it provides me, but didn't end up really doing much with it because it was really challenging to try to get the kiddos to remember directions once it was there turn to have the devices/laptops. I still used it some but lamented (often) how much easier it would be to integrate GAFE (Google Apps for Education) if I actually had 1:1 devices.

Fast forward a few months and suddenly....I do have 1:1 devices. (Or I will.) Last week when I popped into my fabulous new space, I got a good look at my new classroom but also at the technology I have. I was given a MacBook and a new iPad mini. All of my students will also have an iPad mini to use. (I even discovered we have some cute little wireless keyboards that go with the iPads.) 

Along with my new teacher devices, they said I needed to get Apple Teacher certified. Basically I need to read up on and practice using the different Apple apps/programs and then take short quizzes on them to become an Apple Teacher. There are 8 badges for iPad and 8 badges for Mac (basically the same applications but for use on the two different devices and they aren't exactly the same going from the tablet to the computer). 

I have already finished the Mac badges. This means that technically I already am Apple Teacher certified. But I will also complete the iPad ones just to ensure I know the differences between using them on each device (because while I have the Macbook, the students do not and our computer lab has PCs so I definitely need to know the nuances of each device). 

That all said, before getting this devices and learning about the Apple training, I was gung-ho about fully integrating Google Classroom into my teaching this year. Now, I'm not so sure I want to do that. The iPads do have Google Classroom and all of the GAFE on them (at least I assume they do since mine does). Before we went on summer vacation, I even made folders for each subject area in Google Classroom for this upcoming year. It would certainly be nice for the kiddos to be able to access their files from the PC when we are in the lab as well (which means GAFE would be the way to go)...but I am learning some pretty neat features of the Apple programs that I didn't know about.

It's kind of embarrassing how little I knew about what the iPad can do since I've had one for many years (although both of mine are old and I'm not sure they can do what this wicked little mini can do since it's almost brand new). 

Perhaps I can use some of the Apple apps/programs for certain things but still integrate GAFE for others. I do definitely want to explore hyperdocs more this year for social studies (it will be the only curriculum I have this year that isn't brand new to me). 

I don't think, at this point anyway, that Apple or GAFE are better than the other. I just think each have features that I really like (love that GAFE will be there on any device, any time!). I will just have to figure out which ones to use when as I navigate the path toward being a 1:1 teacher.

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