Blog post written by Education writer, Gerald Haigh

I’ve just been reading a great blog post by Jaye Richards-Hill ( @JayeRHill ) on her ‘Minimanifesto’ blog, entitled ‘Tablet Pecking Orders ..but it’s now a battle of the Ecosystems’,

http://mimanifesto.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/tablet-pecking-orders/

My attention was drawn to it by a retweet from Microsoft Schools Business Manager Michael Jones ( @Mike_JonesEDU ) who, very evidently, also saw its significance.

bcb19f6e-b4a6-4e87-b92b-eb8a1fd38357_21What Jaye argues in her post is that the received wisdom about a hierarchy of tablets – iPad setting the pace, android next and Windows coming up behind -- is simplistic and inadequate.

On apps, for example, there’s a common belief that Apple has the good, well established ones, android apps are everywhere in large numbers and Windows apps are still thin on the ground.

‘But does this longevity and volume really equate to choice?’ she writes,


‘A closer look at some of the increasing number of Windows apps reveals some real quality products, especially when coupled with some of the Windows 8 system features. This is where the Windows ecosystem, can really start to compete.’

And that understanding of the significance of the ecosystem is always the Eliza Doolittle, ‘By George she’s got it’ moment for educators. The ecosystem is what Windows 8 is all about – the interoperability of multiple applications and devices to produce a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts.

Jaye Richards-Hill goes on to urge that schools must take independent advice on their tablet policies –

‘And increasingly I’m finding that the new Windows 8 tablets are a real option that schools should seriously consider…’

She questions, as so many have, the wisdom of rushing to equip schools with iPads.

‘Whilst they are really great pieces of IT kit, going down the iPad route does leave you very isolated and locked into a particular environment.

By contrast, she points out, the Windows 8 mobile platform offers interoperability with almost everything an education institution needs to do.

There’s much more in the blog. It’s a good, well balanced, highly knowledgeable read, that deserves a wide audience, and its importance lies in the fact that it comes from a highly experienced educator – teacher, consultant, Scottish Government adviser – with a strong track record in educational technology. Most importantly, she has no particular built-in bias towards Apple, Android or Windows

‘I have no particular affinity or real tie to any of the three platforms,’ she writes, and indeed you will find unbiased approval of many technologies in her various posts.

For myself, the more contact I have with Microsoft, the more I believe they have played a long and wise game with Windows 8, and Windows 8 devices – facing down those early reactions that really amounted to, ‘But it’s not an iPad’, and plugging away at the positives, most notably the interoperability features, and their huge advantage for schools and children’s learning. Now, increasingly, with a broad choice of Windows 8 devices, and deeper understanding of the software, there’s better understanding that, as Jaye writes,

‘It’s not just about the apps – it’s about how they actually get used’.