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EdTech Update




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I don't want to be the one to tell them...

Folks in my department are loving the Google Nexus tablet. With the exception of a rear-facing camera (which for us is actually a pretty big deal), the Nexus is faster, has a better screen, and plays better with GoogleDocs than the iPad. It's also 2/3rds the cost of the iPad mini. An increasing number of real competitors to the iPad are available. (See Miguel Guhlin's great chart below.)

So why not just switch from iPad deployment to Android tablet deployment?

Maybe it's because I am very afraid of telling teachers and administrators they need to learn a new mobile device operating system, learn a host of new apps, and repurchase the apps for which they've already paid. Maybe I don't want to be the one to tell the technicians they need to learn a new app deployment/management system. Maybe I don't want to tell my media specialist and tech integration coordinators that much of the staff development work they've been doing over the past two years getting people comfortable with iPad is going down the toilet. And just maybe, I personally don't want to learn a new system and lose my investment in apps I've purchase for my own iOS devices.

No matter how much better or less expensive the second technology might be, it's tough to make a change.

I'm OK with change myself - I just don't want to be the person who has to tell others that THEY need to change.


Miguel Guhlin down in the great state of Texas has developed this very good chart comparing some popular devices available this holiday season. It's a little different approach to informing people about devices for the kids than the one we took with our holiday letter.

We may create a similar chart someday, but I am a little reluctant to do so for these reasons:

  • We want to recommend features and functions that back to tasks and resources being used in school.
  • New devices and changes in specs/costs will make keeping a chart like this up-to-date very challenging.
  • Informing parents when changes are made will very challenging.
  • We are not aware of every device available nor have we had hands-on experience with each device related to reliability, compatibility, etc.
  • There may be a lot of older technology in homes that kids can still make use of. 
Anyway, I appreciated Miguel's chart and will send parents and teachers to it. Here is it, but look at the original and Miguel's commenst about it:

BYOT Mobile Device Chart

Please note that mention of a device in this chart does not constitute a product endorsement; these are offered for informational and/or reference purposes only. All data subject to change.

The 5-Hornet rating is as follows:
  1. 5 hornets= BYOT Exceptional - mobile creativity, storage, and sharing device (e.g. WiFi iPad/Nexus allows for Google Drive, cloud storage options, video/image editing and creation, GoogleDocs accessibility, etc.)
  2. 4 hornets= Great - allows for wide range of creative apps (e.g. pictures, short video clips, texting) and wireless sharing (WiFi) only limited by account options and apps. Devices include iPod Touch, iPhone, laptops, netbooks)
  3. 3 hornets= Fair - allows for some use (e.g. allows for research via Internet, pictures, video). WiFi access
  4. 2 hornets = Acceptable - usable for specific purposes (content consumption) only (e.g. eReader without Internet or apps) and WiFi
  5. 1 hornet = Limited - Not appropriate for BYOT Classroom use (e.g. may lack WiFi support, difficult to get media on or off device, gaming options).

Here's the link to the "stretched-out" version...the version below is compressed into a small space for the blog entry.

Hornet Rating
Asus/Dell Netbook
approx >= $230
Find out more at your local retail or computer store
  1. WiFi access
  2. Local hard drive storage and GoogleDrive Access
  3. Various creativity programs including Office suites
  4. Requires anti-virus/anti-malware
  5. Built-in webcam
  6. Web Browsing
Google Chromebook
approx >= $249
Find out more online at
  1. WiFi access
  2. Local hard drive (small) storage and GoogleDrive Access
  3. Various creativity programs including Office suites
  4. Requires anti-virus/anti-malware
  5. Built-in webcam
  6. Web Browsing
Apple iPad
approx >= $330 minimum
Find out more at
  1. iTunes App Store
  2. WiFi access
  3. GoogleDrive Access
  4. Wide variety of creativity apps, including Office apps
  5. Video/Still Image Camera(s)
  6. Email/Social media
  7. Web Browsing
  8. Bluetooth compatibility for external keyboard
Android Tablets
Kindle Fire Series
Nook HD Series
  1. Android tablet with access to Google Play apps
  2. GoogleDrive Access
  3. Office apps
  4. Video/Still Image Camera
  5. Email/Social Media
  6. Web Browsing
  7. Bluetooth compatibility for external keyboard
  8. eBooks via Barnes and Noble and Amazon
  9. Handheld (7inch)
Apple iPod Touch
  1. WiFi
  2. iTunes App Store
  3. GoogleDrive Access
  4. Office apps
  5. Video/Still Image Camera
  6. Email/Social Media
  7. Web Browsing
  8. eBooks via Barnes and Noble and Amazon
  9. Handheld (4.3 in x 2.4 in)
Apple iPhone
  1. WiFi
  2. iTunes App Store
  3. GoogleDrive Access
  4. Office apps
  5. Video/Still Image Camera
  6. Email/Social Media
  7. Web Browsing
  8. eBooks via Barnes and Noble and Amazon
  9. Handheld (4.3 in x 2.4 in)
Android Phone
  1. WiFi
  2. GooglePlay Store
  3. GoogleDrive Access
  4. Office apps
  5. Video/Still Image Camera depending on model
  6. Email/Social Media
  7. Web Browsing
  8. eBooks via Barnes and Noble and Amazon
  9. Handheld
eBook Readers
Barnes and Noble Nook SimpleTouch WiFi
approx >= $99

  1. WiFi
  2. No creation or sharing features
  3. Touch screen
  4. MP3 player
  5. eBook Formats Supported: PDF, EPUB, eReader, PDB, JPG, GIF, PNG
(4th generation)
approx >= $69

Kindle 6" WiFi
  1. WiFi
  2. No creation or sharing features
  3. Touch screen
  4. MP3 player
  5. eBook Formats Supported: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively
Other Devices
Nintendo DSi
approx >= $100
  1. WiFi
  2. Photo/Video
  3. Touch screen with stylus
  4. Not appropriate for BYOT
Gaming consoles
  1. Not appropriate for BYOT
Feel free to borrow, etc. under CC-NC-SA-Attribution

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Reader Comments (6)

I understand entirely, Doug. There is the notion of organizational fatigue associated with those shifts. In many ways, such a move must make sense beyond just "which one is better". I experienced this with our LMS and it is one of those that I know there are better systems but our community must come to that conclusion - a person or department (especially Technology) coming to that conclusion is a sure fire way to create hostility.

At the same time, I continue to ponder this idea of "landing": and

How do we balance this notion of organizational fatigue while being cautious of landing? How do we shift course or even course correct without the feeling of constant shift with each new thing?

So many question... in many ways, I'm happy we've spent time piloting so much and sticking with BYOD as we sorted things out. But then again, even though we are in a good place of making a device choice without having to worry about the factors you mentioned, we'll surely be there in a a year given the constantly shifting landscape ;-)

Nice post!

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan Bretag

Hi Ryan,

Your comment and post really resonated with me. I'd not heard the term organizational fatigue, but I immediately got what it means. Every year we joke in our department that this will be the year we do no new projects, only refine and improve the stuff we have going. And every year, new projects come up.

I keep thinking of the old adage about changing the tires on a moving car - that's really what we do all the time in all of education, but especially in tech.

If we change platforms, it will be because the Nexus is affordable in the numbers we want and the iPad is not. Not a great reason for change, but the reality.

Thanks again so much for the comment and the link. They will be shared!


November 17, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Thanks for sharing the chart, Doug! I hope it is useful during its short shelf life (as is all that I blog and all that is tech these days). In regards to your point about Google Nexus 7 vs ipad mini, I found myself in a terrible spot the other day. I was making how-to videos and realized that I really only knew how to do stuff on the iPad. My Android phone kept crashing when I tried to do more with it than take pictures or record videos.

The iPad is the magic bullet. The problem is, it's so darn expensive. I suspect that the Nexus won't yield the same results as the iPad, not because it can't get the job done, but because it hasn't captured the imagination of the techno-illiterati as well.

As to organizational fatigue, I have another word for it--cynicism. It's too easy to get cynical (and, I have been there) about the sisyphusian work we are engaged in. In times like this, I remember that our work isn't about technology at all. We are interacting with immortal beings, spirit clothed in flesh and HOW we treat others while we provide technology support makes all the difference.

In fact, as a tech director now, I find that all things being equal, how we interact with others, how we discuss those users who stumble in ignorance time and again without our direct intervention, is the difference-maker. Poor attitude, cynicism that change is happening, organizational fatigue, it's too easy to fall into the trap.

I'm a convert now. Whatever the technology, do something with it. The power to act is our's, but every day, I see teachers who fail to do so. Those that do, they are instantly hailed as heroic figures who have overcome a host of obstacles.

This is the comment you get when someone reads a wikipedia entry on Dante's Inferno right before commenting. Sigh.


Warm regards,
Miguel Guhlin
Around the

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Guhlin

Hi Miguel,

I never saw you becoming an Apple Fanboy, Miguel!

Great points about cynicism. I watched Spielberg's movie Lincoln yesterday and realized just how easy it would have been for Abe to have become cynical about getting the 13th amendment passed instead of keeping pushing.

I am resolved to keep pushing for a device for every student in our district and skills for every teacher in how to best use them to benefit students.

But I still remain just a little skeptical, not cynical.

All the best,


November 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Like Ryan, I'm going through personal fatigue with LMS selection. Edmodo, to Moodle, now our Department of Instruction is going to be providing one soon. But then a vendor tells me it might not be for a couple of years. I discovered OpenClass today - and being that it couples with Google Apps for Ed that makes it attractive. We're getting our first Chromebooks in - REALLY like them. The price is right, you don't have to drop $29.97 on top of it for Google Docs, Presentation and Spreadsheet. Being out of an all Apple district has started to open up my mind.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Mielke

Hi Ryan,

I always keep a couple things in mind about large systems. The first is that no system is perfect and will do everything and every system has some features that are desirable. The second thing i believe is that most systems eventually add the most critical features. Our impatience works against us. Re-learning not only takes energy, but it takes time away from using tools effectively.

I love the concept of Chromebooks. I am a little uneasy that they seem to have no usability off-network.

Have a great Thanksgiving,


November 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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