Following today’s post about the upcoming changes to iOS, here’s a fascinating pair of images demonstrating the ways in which Android and iOS have evolved over the years:

Evolution of Android
Evolution of Android
Evolution of iOS
Evolution of iOS

Looking over these charts evokes a lot of nostalgia. I’ve used iOS from version 1 through version 6, and I’ve used Android from Cupcake (1.5) through Jelly Bean (4.2). (The only Android version I skipped was Honeycomb (3.0), as it had an extremely limited tablets-only release. Even after Honeycomb came out, most Android tablets continued using modified versions of Froyo (2.2) or Gingerbread (2.3) until Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) came out.)

Regardless– the contrast is dramatic, isn’t it? I’m sure many would argue that Apple just “got it right the first time”, but it’s clear that Android doesn’t shy away from dramatic changes. Compared to the terribly awkward and pimply Cupcake/Donut/Eclair/Froyo/Gingerbread years (v. 1.5-2.3), Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean (4.0-4.2) are stunningly beautiful.

(h/t mr03 and cornish_warrior on Reddit)

Can Apple’s iOS 7 catch up to Android, or is it too little, too late?

Photo: LAI Ryanne, CC-BY 2.0
Photo: LAI Ryanne, CC-BY 2.0

Hillel Fuld wrote an article about the ways in which Apple’s newest software for iPhones and iPads, iOS 7, borrows liberally from features and interfaces its competitors pioneered.

I use both iOS and Android. In reviewing the changes coming up for iOS version 7, I was also struck by the number of “new” features lifted directly from Android—but it’s really good to see iOS breaking out of its cocoon a bit. After a few years of awkward, pimply development, Android has surpassed iOS in most areas, so Cupertino really needed to breathe some new life into its long-calcified iOS interface and workflows to catch back up.

The fundamental issue not addressed in this update, though, is that Android devices behave like proper computers—being flexible, customizable, open, and yes, a bit messy—while iOS devices behave more like sleek, well-engineered appliances. (People say similar things about Windows vs. OS X, but OS X grants you all the absolute power you could want, provided you know where to look and how to use it. The same isn’t true for iOS!) This distinction between the roiling democracy of the Android Open Source Project and the beneficent locked-down dictatorship of iOS is absolutely by design. (Especially when you get into messy, idiosyncratic areas like bluetooth stack implementation, Android devices don’t always “just work” the way an iOS device will!)

iOS's new easily-accessible settings pane, a feature Android devices have had for years. Courtesy Apple
iOS’s new easily-accessible settings pane, a feature Android devices have had for years. Courtesy Apple

As a case in point, I spent about four or five hours this past weekend rehabilitating a modified Samsung Galaxy S2 which was dramatically malfunctioning. Several different aspects of the operating system had failed, including the ability of many core applications to launch successfully, the ability of the phone to use its camera, and the ability of the phone to mount its microSD card. (Conveniently, the full-system backup from a few weeks ago had become corrupted, too, failing its MD5 hash check, meaning that simply rolling back to a known working configuration was not possible.) After hours spent continually nuking everything on the device and re-flashing various community-packaged versions of Android to the phone, I found a combination of ROM, kernel, and modem which fixed the issues and made the phone usable again. This is something no iOS user would have to go through—except, perhaps, those on the cutting edge of the jailbreaking community!

Despite the occasional headaches, I’ll forever be more of a “computer” person than an “appliance” person, so I can’t see myself giving up Android, even as iOS slowly adopts a more open, flexible appearance. For corporate and educational settings, on the other hand, I can see the appeal of investing in more appliance-like devices to try to keep things simple. As iOS continues to adopt the more useful features and interface decisions of its competitors, that appeal can only become stronger.

What’s your take on iOS’s move toward a more flexible, accessible, Android-style interface for things like multitasking and changing settings? Do you ever feel restricted by iOS’s appliance-like nature, and if so, do you think iOS 7 will alleviate those issues?


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Khan Academy: Why the Flipped Classroom Won’t Save Education

This guest post by Derrick Waddell was previously published in his blog, Teach the Cloud.

With 60 Minutes touting it as “the future of education,” and backing coming from tech industry giants like Bill Gates, Khan Academy and the concept of the flipped classroom have been brought to the forefront of the education reform debate.  The Khan Academy does offer some great resources for supplementing and differentiating instruction.  It’s this kind of content that will lead us away from the idea of digital textbooks and toward the idea of teachers curating content from across the web that is specific to the learners in their classrooms.   However, I don’t think it’s the “savior” in and of itself.  In fact, I think the idea of the flipped classroom is inherently flawed.  Here’s why:

1. It’s Still Consumption.  

How can initiatives like Khan Academy, the flipped classroom, and digital textbooks reform education when they are still presenting information for students to consume?  The future of education isn’t a new way to consume, it’s new ways of thinking about how students learn like project-based and collaborative learning.

2. Teachers are Accountable for Student Achievement.

 

The flipped classroom puts control of learning into the hands of students.  Not a bad concept, but it does pose a problem with the US education system as it is today.  Teachers are tasked with educating every student and are held accountable for proving it.  How can they be held accountable for learning that is supposed to be taking place outside of the classroom?  Before ideas like this can work, we must change the way we think about education as a whole.
3. Not Every Home can Support a Flipped Classroom.My biggest problem with the idea of the flipped classroom?  Access to the flipped classroom is not ubiquitous.  With much of the country still without broadband internet, especially rural areas (link to PDF from FCC) and areas with high poverty rates, an overwhelming number of students in our country would not be able to access Khan Academy videos from home.  Those who could would only increase the academic achievement gap between high- and low-income families prevalent in American education.  Until broadband is in every home, the flipped classroom will disenfranchise a segment of US students.

Like I stated earlier, the Khan Academy offers some outstanding resources for supplementing and differentiating instruction.  These kinds of online resources offer opportunities to students and teachers that they haven’t had in the past.  I just think it would benefit educators and non-educators alike to step back from the excitement of the idea of the flipped classroom and stop praising it as something it’s not.

Yesterday, I saw a comic strip posted over on The Innovative Educator Blog that characterizes the way I feel about Khan Academy:

(Original can be found here)

**EDIT**
Since posting this commentary, I’ve had a some conversations where I have been taken to task for my opinions on the topic.  Allow me to clarify: The point of this post isn’t to bash Khan Academy–I love what they’re doing, and I’m glad it has given teachers and students resources that they lacked previously.  The point was to step back from the glitz and glamor and examine the flipped classroom from another point of view.  The point was to shed some light on my concerns with the idea of the flipped classroom and open the eyes of some people who have failed to consider the negatives, especially to rural areas of the country.  The biggest of these concerns is access to broadband internet, which I will discuss at length in an upcoming blog post.  Feel free to post in the comments, positive or negative.
Thanks for reading,
Derrick

 

Creative Commons License
Khan Academy: Why the Flipped Classroom Won’t Save Education by Derrick Waddell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


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The five most powerful ways teachers aren’t using Google Drive (yet)

Courtesy Droid-Life
Courtesy Droid-Life

Google Drive—formerly named Google Docs—is Google’s online productivity suite. It’s long been a popular choice for collaborative writing and editing of documents, especially among teachers and students, so I won’t dwell on the excellent collaboration features others have written about at length for years. More recently, Google added cloud storage space similar to what Dropbox offers. If you use any of Google’s products like Gmail or Calendar, you already have access to at least 15 GB of file storage space on Google Drive. This new addition dramatically changes the ways in which you can interact with Google Drive.

Google launches new features and add-ins all the time, so if you’re still interacting with Google Drive exactly the same way you did in 2010 in the early Google Docs days, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Here are five powerful new ways to make the most of Google Drive.

1. Scan classroom documents in seconds using your tablet or smartphone.

2013-06-10 17.06.45

The Google Drive team recently launched a document scanner feature for its Android app, and presumably, iOS will follow shortly. Just snap a picture of any document—whether one page or many pages—and it will be uploaded as a black and white PDF to your Google Drive. Once it’s uploaded, Google runs the document through an Optical Character Recognition process so that you can find the document later by searching for key words. Collecting physical homework digitally lets you provide incremental feedback while simultaneously letting students continue to work on the original document.

2. Retrieve old versions of documents—even the ones on your computer. 

Courtesy Google
Courtesy Google

It has long been the case that Google Drive has let you view the revision history and retrieve old versions of documents written using the Google Docs productivity suite. More recently, Google Drive launched a computer application which lets you back up your local files to the cloud and view them online in a manner very similar to Dropbox’s service. What you might not know is that every time Drive detects that you’ve changed a file locally on your computer, it not only uploads the new version, but it keeps the old version, too! You can access the version history on the “Manage revisions” page for any file. If you accidentally modify last year’s test directly and lose the old version, Google Drive has your back. Just check the revisions page to get your old work back!

3. Send large file attachments to students or parents.

Courtesy Google Drive Blog
Courtesy Google Drive Blog

Email has traditionally limited attachment sizes to between 5 and 25 MB, which is much too small to share videos and other multimedia files. Gmail’s new Google Drive integration lets you attach files as large as 10 GB to your emails.

4. Work with new kinds of documents using third-party apps in Drive.

apps

Google Drive is a productivity suite which includes many built-in apps. However, Google lets you install third-party apps to your Google Drive, too. These often-free apps include things like diagramming tools, photo and video editors, PDF annotators, graphing calculators and other math visualizers, note-taking programs, mail merge tools, music players, and many dozens more. Once you install one of these apps to your Google Drive, you can open your Google Drive files with the app straight from the Drive web interface. We all have different needs and workflows as teachers, but there’s something useful for everyone in the third-party app market. For example, if you scan student work to Google Drive (see tip #1 above), you can use a third-party PDF annotator within Google Drive to mark up those papers directly online.

5. Archive just about anything you see on the Internet to Google Drive.

save-to-drive

A new Chrome extension called Save to Drive lets you right-click on any webpage or image and save it to your personal document archive. Because Google Drive is in the cloud, you can access your clipped pages and images from any computer or device. Teachers can use this tool when developing materials, especially if you’re working on the same material on multiple computers. Students could also use this extension to help them work on research both in school and at home because the same files and the same information will be visible from any computer.

What other ways do you use Google Drive? Share your tips in the comments!