Sunday, May 13, 2018

Apple, Google, & Microsoft... Oh My! Which is Best for Your School?

This week the #NYCSchoolsTech Team brought innovative educators a chance to hear directly from “The Big Three: Apple, Google, and Microsoft” (listed alphabetically). During this day-long event at state-of-the-art #NYCSchoolsTech center, educators from across the city came together to learn first-hand which is best for their schools.

School Platform Preference

#NYCSchoolsTech leader JoJo Farrell got the day started by asking educators to stand up if they were primarily:
A) Apple school.
B) Google school.
C) Microsoft school. 

Who do you think the winner was?  Watch this video to find out.
The answer, as seen on video, is "D" none of the above. It turns out that schools tend to use some of each and that’s a good thing.

Special Adviser for School Technology, Jason Levy drove that point home. When Levy served as principal of a struggling middle school, he was able to turn it around in part by his use of technology. This was featured in a PBS Frontline story called, “How Google Saved a School.”  However, he explained that the reality is it wasn’t only Google at his school. While the school used the Google Suite, they did so on Apple devices and with staff and colleagues Microsoft was the primary communication platform. As an informed school principal he knew the strengths of various platforms and resources and selected the right tool and device for the needs of students and staff.

At the "Big Three Summit" each vendor participated in a panel, had hands on demos at their booth, and presented to the audience to provide an overview of some of the highlights around how educators are using their resources for teaching and learning.  A theme across the three was AR/VR is a path each will be pursuing in the education space. Participants were also pleasantly surprised to learn that when it comes to cost, Chromebooks are no longer the clear winner. Their sensible price point has finally resulted in Apple and Microsoft driving down prices for students and they will offer less expensive devices.

There were some clear winners in other areas though.

Top Honors Go To:


  • Accessibility and assistive tech
  • High end design and performance: Apple


  • Device management 
  • Collaboration


  • Translation
  • Online communities for adults

Exciting news:

#NYCSchoolsTech educators were also in for some surprises as they heard from each of the vendors.


  • They have released a free “Everyone Can Create” curriculum that helps teachers weave creative areas like photography, music and filmmaking into their existing lesson plans using an iPad.
  • Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad starts at just $299 for schools and features enhanced cameras, advanced sensors and all-day battery life.



  • They are moving away from multiple versions of products so they will just look and feel nearly the same whether online or off.
  • With Microsoft Translations you can speak and in real time what you say can be translated to other languages.  Check out the video below to see this in action.

Support from Our Elected Official

One of the biggest advocates for effective use of technology in New York City schools, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer attended to show her support to #NYCSchoolsTech educators and share some of what she is working on to advocate on their behalf. She said she is working to address increasing bandwidth in schools and she is also working to update what is allowable when upgrading tech in school with Capital funds to include tablets and Chromebooks. Brewer applauded #NYCSchoolsTech and “The Big Three” for doing the important work of creating public school / private industry partnerships.   

Who’s the Winner? The Verdict:

#NYCSchoolsTech educator Lliana Villegas summed it up this way, “I came here today thinking there would be a clear winner as far as which of the “Big Three” is right for our school. I left realizing, it depends.” She went on to explain that you must consider how you plan to use the device or platform and with whom to make the best decision about what works.  This event allowed her to do just that.

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