This is a subject of much controversy, surrounded by secrecy and shadowed in darkness. Alright, that isn’t exactly true and more than a bit of an overstatement. It has a nice ring to it though.
I just had the privilege of becoming an ADE (Class of 2013). As there are many eager for more information on the subject of how to become one, I thought I would write this blogpost. (Why do I hear fellow newbie Rab Paterson‘s voice in my head as I type this?) I suppose on some level I heard his voice so much over the past several days that I must have become fond of his soothing (constant) Scottish tones… but I digress.
Out of an unknown number of applicants, all earnest in their use of technology to improve learning outcomes, Apple selected somewhere around 120 of us (in no way an exact number) in the Asia Pacific region to join their ranks earlier this year. This number is representative of both native to the respective country language speakers and English speakers alike.
Personally, when I received the email that I had been selected I walked around my apartment a while re-reading it on my tired, old iPad 1. Yes, it seemed to say I made it. But there must be some mistake… Me?! Really?
But there it was and once the shock wore off I posted the top of the email to Facebook, which is where the comments and questions began. Congratulations! How did you get in? I always wanted to apply but heard it was hard.
Apple was good enough to put us all up in a very nice hotel in Bali. They supplied us with access to some software to help us pick up our games further and even loaned those of us with old devices newer iPads for some of the workshops planned for the event. They overfed us, taught us, gave us time to practice, share and reflect, and get to know our fellow ADE’s in this incredible community.
- It was demanding
- It was rewarding
- It was tiring
- It was a phenomenal learning and networking experience
- And it was fun!
I learned an incredible amount in the four days of the event (Apple Distinguished Educator Institute 2013). Was it really that short?!
Let’s be honest, Apple spent a LOT of money putting on this event. They deserved the best return on investment and we earned our spots throughout.
Many people I know were eager to hear how much of this whole thing is about education and how much of it is about selling Apple products. Well, here’s my take. Apple knows that education and technology are inseparable. Apple is a technology company. Their best interest lies in supplying technology that works to meet the demands of the classroom. What they often do well is to try and get out ahead of that curve or even lead it.
iBooks Author and iTunes U are perfect examples. Students as creators, teachers leading the charge through modeling, Apple there trying to figure out how to bring it all together and, in the case of the ADE Program, investing in the human infrastructure to see what works and put tools in the hands of those who have gone out of their way to demonstrate their dedication through a reasonably intensive screening and application process.
How to Become an Apple Distinguished Educator
- Apple is looking for innovative educators. If you aren’t trying new things in your classroom you shouldn’t bother. Just having iPads is not enough (though using them in your application video, however, couldn’t hurt. C’mon, let’s be honest here!).
- There were some seriously impressive folks at this Institute. Not just alumni presenters but other teachers I met who were newbies as myself who are doing some truly amazing things (“amazing” the action word of this event. I wish I had counted how many times I heard this word <I’m sorry Apple! Don’t take away my new letters because I’m being cheeky. It was amazing. I’m just sayin’ is all…>). Don’t let that intimidate you though. Hey, I got in.
- I asked many new people how they thought they got in. Many had “amazing” stories of what they were doing in their classrooms but I could discern no pattern or algorithm other than innovation or well-documented best practices.
- How’d I get in? I don’t know. If I had to guess, I would think my video had something to do with it. I tried not only to showcase how I’ve used Apple technologies to enhance learning outcomes but also how I, myself, am unique through the images I chose. Photos of me as a hippie tree-planter, a young new teacher in a kindergarten class, pans of my websites, webinars, training sessions for teachers, examples of student work, me teaching with my white beard… (I shaved that off pretty fast I can tell you!). I mean, MOST applicants are doing similar things. They are up on trends and keeping on top of developments. Others, the smaller percentage, are the really, truly exceptional, innovating with challenged learners or hauling iPads into the jungle to save a language. If there is one other way I made myself (not one of these latter types I fear) stand out it was to be everywhere at once: by Deepening My Digital Footprint
Ask yourself one thing before going further.
Why do you want to be an ADE? For your résumé or CV?
Don’t let a pass one year deter you. I know educators whose workshops I have benefitted from in other arenas who have taken two and three runs at it. If you are continually picking up your professional game what harm has been done?
In the end, it should be about your practice anyway, shouldn’t it?