How to Become an Apple Distinguished Educator (or ADE)

This is a subject of much controversy, surrounded by secrecy and shrouded 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 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. 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.

The Experience
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.


The Sidebar
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.



The Advice
Wow, I can see my house from this soapbox!
And now, without further adieu…

How to Become an Apple Distinguished Educator

ADE Photo

  1. 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!).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Parting Shot
Ask yourself one thing before going further.

Why do you want to be an ADE? For your résumé or CV?

Feather in My CapYes, it would be a feather in the cap, to be sure. But really, if you work hard enough to earn a spot, you really have already gone a long way towards becoming the sort of educator you want to be.

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?



Are You Interested in Becoming a Published Bestseller?

Eager to apply? Go HERE!

STILL need more? Check out this post or Best of the Best: Apple and Google Educator Programs

About Sean Thompson

Sean is an educational technology specialist at Sacred Heart International School in Tokyo. He travels extensively across southeast Asia speaking, presenting and participating in discussions regarding the effective integration of technology in an educational setting. In 2014 he partnered up with DEEP Learning to support the team with the development, promotion and execution of professional development conferences for teachers worldwide. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader , a Google education Trainer and a Certified Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
This entry was posted in Digital Learning, Producing, Publishing, Sharing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to How to Become an Apple Distinguished Educator (or ADE)

  1. Pingback: The hotel in Bali — ChillinKansai

  2. Stephanie says:

    Hi Sean
    A great round up of the institute and application process. You re right that there were some amazing ppl selected which I think made the event.


  3. fr3tty says:

    Hi Sean! I’m Yani, from Indonesia. I was among the newbies you met in Bali. 🙂
    This is a cool post, you did a great job in reliving every single detail about the institute and also in describing exactly the same feelings and thoughts I had when they emailed me to tell me I got in. 😀
    By the way, how’s your OBT? *stressing over mine* Good luck with it.

    • Sean says:

      Hey Yani,

      Thanks! I am actually working on my OBT as I type this! I too am stressing. I checked your ADE profile just now and see you are a PS teacher. I was 7 years in PYP but now in MYP Tech. I will be delivering the Role of ICT in PYP in HK this September (speaking of stress). I am also hoping to do some sort of iTunes U course for the Exhibition focusing on production of video for students. If you have any ideas or interest let me know maybe we could collaborate?

      Or if you would like to flatten a class with PYP kids in Japan or whatever, just let me know.
      OK, back to OBT. BTW, I cant get my photo in the author page placeholder. How about you?
      Would you be interested in swapping OBT for proofreading?
      Sorry, too many questions for a first email!

      Anyway, thanks for the mail fellow 2013 newbie.
      Sean over

  4. Kirsten says:

    Hey Sean! Love the article…nailed the emotion, vibe, everything!
    Right…enough procrastinating…back to my OBT….
    See you soon!

    • Sean says:

      Hey Kirsten,
      Thanks! What’s an OBT?
      HA! Still trying to nail mine down too. After all this work I hope they do something with it.
      Between edits I keep posting and… Yes! I just got my first 100+ blog posts read day!
      I was so cool when I was younger, what happened to me?!
      OK, time to upload. Good luck with yours.

  5. Marco robert says:

    Sean, when i watched your video i thought it was a video about me. I must say i feel exactly as you were feeling. But i am a step down the ladder because i presently teach esperimenting new technolgy but i can t find a master as the one you talk about in the video. May i ask you to send me any information you have so i can learn and deepen the skill to teach with ITC? I would be grateful. Thanks from Rome, Italy. Marco

  6. Pingback: Learning 2.014 Asia Reflection | Technology Embedded: Living, Learning, Teaching

  7. Pingback: Educational Material Development | Technology Embedded: Living, Learning, Teaching

  8. Jaywant Pandhare says:

    I am developing eStudy educational app which can provide numerous benefits to the students as well as educators.
    Needless to say that today’s generation is very much embraced & evolved (& addicted) with latest gadgets like smart phones & tablets, who even don’t want to live or can’t imagine a day without those toys.
    My objective is to enhance digital literacy, skills and inclusion to transform traditional learning into full time digital learning, that too on their favorite apps which stays with them full time & everywhere. I wanted to make their smart phones or tables as their personal educator. Wherever they go they carries their learning treasure, whenever they want they can browse their own learning opportunities.
    The basic & unique feature of this app is, it has all the text books in e-format. All the books from primary education to higher degrees will be available on this App which support all smart phones and tablets. Whatever students can do in their text books or in note books they can be able to do everything on their tablets and smart phones.
    eStudy objective is to institute digital technologies & environment to improve learning ability of learners.
    It’s more simple to use & affordable for the students across all the faculties.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s