Reflections on the Apple Education Summit – Singapore 2011

Last weekend I was fortunate to attend this years edition of Apple’s Education Summit, which was being held just down the road from me in Singapore. It was held at the Singapore School of the Arts on Orchard Road. The summit was a three day collection of keynote speakers and breakout workshops which obviously promoted the virtues of using Apple products in the education arena. Here are a few of my thoughts and takeaways from the conference.

Simon Sinek and Dan Pink – keynote speakers

Simon and Dan were the two keynote speakers that sandwiched either end of the Education Summit weekend. Simon Sinek’s presentation was very similar, if not identical to one that is recorded on TED Talks (see below). He spoke about why it is important for businesses and leaders to define why their organization exists and is an excellent video to watch. I thought that Simon had a good message, but needed to make some clearer links to education. I spent most of the time make the inferences from his presentation full of business examples, to my professional practice as an educator.

Dan Pink spoke on Sunday morning after leading a panel discussion from a group of students. He was very well briefed and linked most of his messages to the education context. His ideas were very much focused on how to motivate teachers using tools other than the conventional sticks and carrots. His main message was about offering staff greater autonomy, chances to develop mastery and a clear purpose. His of his remarks and examples came from his book Drive, which is an excellent and easy read. The talk below with funky animations is a good example of his thought process and vision.

The future of iPads in Education

I attended one of the breakout workshops about mobile learning; which was a really an Apple sales pitch about using iPads in the classroom. I was really impressed with the workshop as the three presenters provided some really current ideas and resources from several of the schools around the world involved in the iPad trials. I still feel that iPads are far more suited to younger students that High School students. The devices as most people feel, are for consuming information and provide students with a  degree of interaction with some of the applications. If schools are most interested in the constructing and making products, I think the iPad is a little limited but this will undoublty change as the product and applications continue to develop. The opportunities that iPads off in Primary schools are enormous, even my mother-in-law is keen to trial one in her New Zealand primary school classroom.

We received a little bit of information from the Apple staff about how staff can configure the iPads for use across the school. This included using a application available from Apple Support –  iPad Support and Configuration to set the permissions for each of the devices automatically. To me the biggest question is the how do you deploy applications out to all of the iPads and sycronise them later. You can do this using iTunes and a USB hub with five connectors. As when you purchase one application you could share it out to five different devices. Ultimately it would be nice to see an education app store, which enabled schools to buy site licenses for applications. I need to do some more learning in this area before comfortable about how it would work.

Here are some good resources for some future reading that I borrowed from the workshop. This will surely be an area of growth over the next few years.

Apple Education – Learning with the iPad

State of Victoria – iPad Trial

Resources to support the Victorian iPad Trial

iPads in Education – UK

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