FETC 2013 | Q&A

For Educators, the Merits of a Mobile OS That Doesn't Start With 'i'

Ed tech consultant and 'Fandroid' Leslie Fisher explains why educators need to pay attention to Android users to prepare for the future.

Apple may have a runaway success in education with its iOS platform and corresponding app store, but ed tech consultant and trainer Leslie Fisher isn't quite ready to throw in the towel for Android just yet. Fisher, who worked as a K-12 senior systems engineer at Apple during the 1990s, is by no means anti-iPad (she has one), she's just come to the realization that some people--and apps--work better on a different platform. Currently, Fisher is working with Sony to spearhead its nascent distinguished educators program, called Sony Ambassadors.

I recently spoke with Fisher about her interest in all things Android and her favorite apps for educators--and got a sneak peek of her upcoming FETC 2013 presentation on the web 2.0 you (probably) haven't heard of.

Stephen Noonoo: Tell us about your recent interest in Android as a platform for educators. Does it have anything to do with your work with Sony?

Leslie Fisher: No, I was doing this before. I was an Apple user when Apple was not cool, and I always felt bad for the poor little Mac users when everything was PC based. Now it's kind of turned around, which I think is hysterical. I’ve always been a gargantuan believer in that I shouldn’t force you into a platform when you already work on another platform. If you tell me you work better on an Android platform, I feel you should use that because that's how you work best. This is something that I've wanted to do for a while and this Sony partnership just made it more entertaining.

Noonoo: There aren't many people talking about Android for education. Why is that?

Fisher: I think it's the whole dominance [of iOS]. It was the same thing when PCs were dominant. And as much as you and I hate talking about it--iPads--Android isn't there.

I like my iPad, I use it all the time--it was the first kid on the block; it's the gorilla--but I personally prefer the Google Play store. I just think it's easier. It's easier to search, it's easier to find.

leslie fisher education technology

Leslie Fisher is a former Apple veteran and current presenter and ed tech trainer working with Sony and Adobe. She will present a workshop and two sessions and will co-present at the popular App Shootout during FETC 2013, which begins Jan. 28, 2013 in Orlando, FL.

iPad A to Z (workshop)
iOS Support Group
The Web 2.0 You Might Not Know About

She will also present in the Adobe booth on the show floor. For more information about Leslie Fisher, visit her web site.

Noonoo: What has been happening with Android lately that's not getting attention?

Fisher: At one point, I definitely think it was not ready for prime time as compared with iOS. I do think there has been a bit of evolution and growth. I think when people look at Android, they're trying to say, “Apple's not giving me a solution. Maybe I can get something from Android.” Or their schools or districts simply do not allow them to run iOS.

Noonoo: That's an important point. Because iOS is such a walled garden.

Fisher: You bet. And that's a big thing for certain people. And another thing, Apple will show up and they'll present at conferences, but they're not going to sit there and talk about custom solutions, where if you have an Android it's more open that you can design certain things.

If you're iPad only, you're not opening it up to the BYOD world. My personal belief is that the BYOD world is the way to go, and if that's the case then you better know what apps play on all platforms.

Noonoo: So what are your favorite education-related apps and which ones are out for Android?

Fisher: I'm a huge fan of ClassDojo. It doesn't look like it's out for Android yet. Remind 101 is great, especially if you’re in a BYOD environment. Nearpod is out for Android now. Socrative. Do you know about Socrative?

Noonoo: No, I don't.

Fisher: If you like Nearpod, you're going to go goo-goo over Socrative. It has the ability for a teacher to create test questions and they can be open ended. They can do one question and pre-poll the "audience," or live poll the audience, or they go ahead and do a five question quiz. Students can use any mobile device, like an Android tablet or a Mac.

What's cool is that if it's multiple choice, the teacher gets an Excel spreadsheet [when the quiz is finished] showing everything that student filled out. If it's a true/false quiz, it even marks if it was correct or not correct.

I don't think Evernote Peek is out for Android, but Evernote for Android rocks the house compared to the iPad version. Put Evernote Peek on your iOS list, because it rocks. So let's say you make a notebook--you could name it "quiz questions." Let's say you make the title of the note the actual quiz question; the body of the note will be the quiz answer. You then go to your iPad and load Evernote Peek. You click on the notebook you just made and it turns your iPad into a flashcard device. The first thing you see is the question, you tab, it flips to the answer, and you mark if you got it correct or incorrect.

I've got another app for you: Catch Notes. It is out for the Android, too. I personally love it. I don't know how I can describe it best. I'm a big to-do lister and I never put a to-do list in Evernote--that doesn't make sense--but I do want something that's just a tap away from giving me an overview of what I need to do. So Catchnotes, for me, is for when I just took a quick note of something I need to do, or made my grocery list. It's my great little, "This isn't going to have a long shelf-life in my life, but I still a way to organize it" app. If it's not "Evernote worthy," I use Catchnotes.

Noonoo: It could even be homework?

Fisher: Oh yeah. If a kid's not using Evernote, the next best app out there would be Catch Notes.

Scoop.it is another one of my favorites. Do you know about that?

Noonoo: Yes, but Zite's my favorite.

Fisher: Zite's the best and a half, and it's also out for Android. That's kind of the thing that I've been discovering, a lot of the biggies are out for Android, like Edmodo.

Do you know about a fun little [augmented reality] app called Aurasma?

Noonoo: Yes, we did a story about that (Augmented Reality Apps Transform Class Time).

Fisher: It's a great app, and that's out for the Android as well. I say jokingly when I'm presenting, "Imagine a yearbook where you take your phone and put it over a photo and more info comes up." OK, in 10 years it will probably be out of date and won't be an app that's working anymore, but for that brief moment in time, it'd be pretty cool.

Noonoo: So, to sum, why should schools give Android serious consideration?

Fisher: The reason why schools should give Android serious consideration is because they need to give everything serious consideration. Because the best way we're going to beat lack of funding is BYOD. And the best way we can support student learning is also to support the devices that they're bringing in to the classroom--the devices they already know how to use. With that in mind, we need to know and be able to speak that language. We cannot be ignoring it.

You tell me that if I have a student that walks in with an Android tablet, I'm going to tell him "I'm sorry, we don't have any computers for you to use. Turn off your device." I think that's one of the silliest things happening in education today.

Noonoo: At FETC this year, you're doing a session on Web 2.0 tools that people may not know yet. Can you give us an example?

Fisher: Sure, have you heard of WorkFlowy? It's great. It's an outlining site that understands also hashtags. So I can do hashtag searches on it if I want to.

Noonoo: But it's not connected to Twitter?

Fisher: Not to Twitter, just for you and your own workflow.

Noonoo: So it's getting people to think hashtag-centric?

Fisher: Bingo. And then if you need to do things like having kids work on an outline, it's one of those things where you see this really boring web site at first, and then when you start getting into it and see how feature-rich it is, you're like "Why didn't I think of that?"

Could you do an outline in Evernote? Absolutely. But if you don't need to go that route, this thing is web based. And guess what? There is an app for it too. It's called FlowyDroid.