ECIS Seville, 2014 – adios, iPad 2; bienvenido Office Suite for iPad

Seville was a lovely surprise last month.  I was there to present the current stage of my research into iPads in the classroom at the ECIS Leadership Conference but I wasn’t prepared for how stunning the city looked in the late spring sunshine and how the whole place seemed to be blooming.  I had missed the Exposition during 1992 because I was on teaching practice in Lisbon and the only weekend my tutor could fly out from London to meet with me was the same weekend my colleagues and I had earmarked for a Seville trip.  So this was catch-up time and I made the most of it.  There was a moment, sitting under an orange tree on a street terrace with my wife and children, waiting for our (world class) tapas to arrive and listening to a street quartet playing just a few yards away, when I wondered if a moment in life could be any more perfect.  Then the tapas arrived and I realised it just had done!

The conference coincided with a couple of iPad-related news items that have already begun to affect schools.  One is the withdrawal of the iPad 2, the classroom stalwart that has served us so well since March 2011.  From now on this device will no longer be manufactured and schools will have to choose other options.  For schools such as ours in which iPads are leased, not bought, the removal of the iPad 2 from the Apple options list is significant.  It is not merely the new agreements with alternative models (I suspect most schools will opt for the iPad Air as we are doing) that have to be processed but also new cases (NutKase had an impressive stall at the Seville conference and although I don’t normally use this blog for the purpose of promoting brands I have to say I was struck by the student-designed protective iPad Air cover they demonstrated), new MDM set-ups and in some cases new insurance agreements too.  Most students and teachers will regard the replacement of their iPad 2 with an iPad Air as a good thing, but it is not without its issues for those administrating the switch.


Another recent development (and one that is still unwinding as I write this at the end of May) is the decision by Microsoft to throw in the towel on iPad apps and abandon the failed “Windows First” policy they stuck by under Steve Ballmer’s leadership.  The clearest manifestation of the policy change in Microsoft is the decision to release iPad versions of Excel, Word and PowerPoint.


Of these, Excel is the most significant as it is the only one that is demonstrably and undeniably the superior application in its field.  Those of us who use spreadsheets regularly, and especially those who require pivot table facilities and more advanced tools, will welcome the arrival of ExCel to the iPad.  This isn’t the case for the other two apps. Word is easily replaced by any number of word processing apps, and PowerPoint … well how can I put it and still be polite?  But the move does put a final nail in the coffin of those who continue to argue that the iPad is for content consumption and not for creating new stuff.  Quite obviously, Office Suite apps are intended to create new stuff.  In fact, Microsoft has configured the release so that the only way they will make money is from subscribers who buy the creation facility.  those like me who simply download the apps to be able to read what Office users send us pay not a penny.