ADE2012 – embracing the change or embracing the brand?

ADE2012 was a 1 week global institute attended by 220 Apple Distinguished Educators from all over the world. The event was hosted at the Fota Island Resort, Cork, Ireland.


After a week at ADE Global Institute 2012, stepping onto the train was like entering solitary confinement. The first opportunity to be alone with my thoughts and to really begin digesting all that I learned, the stories, the perspectives, the ideas, the innovation and the interchange. It was a relentless week, an intense hive of non-stop discussion padded by workshops and presentations. They say data only becomes information once it is interpreted. For me, the trip home was time to interpret!

‘Impartiality’ is something that should always be at the front of our minds as educators, particularly when it comes to influencing others. To an outsider, ADE2012 would be perceived as an event for ‘Apple folk’. From the inside, it was very different. 220 educators from all over the world coming together under an Apple banner. First and foremost, as educators, then as technologists. My lasting impression of this event isn’t the banner, it is the innovation, the energy and the realisation that a global paradigm shift is happening and to be completely fair, Apple are number 1 in facilitating that shift. Quite often at events like this, the order gets muddled, ‘Bring to front’ technology, ‘Send to back’ education. But not at ADE2012, we flipped it! Yes, Apple put on an ‘amazing’ show, they looked after us but in almost every conversation that this event gifted me with, I stumbled onto the conclusion that the ‘forum’ was the real reward! Everything else, mere packaging! ADE’s know that the education system is broken, we know that the world around is changing rapidly due to proliferation of technology into every single aspect of life, including education and we know we need to embrace rather than resist.

A fellow ADE challenged me to question something. Why do I actually want to be an ADE? Do I really gain anything from it other than some sort of statement of allegiance? Those questions resonated deeply with me but on reflection I think I know the answer. To me it’s about endorsement and validation, ADE’s are people willing to embrace change, they are the people who realise that education has to change and that that change must embrace technology, pedagogy and content on equal footing, otherwise we face the threat of irrelevance! In the day-to-day of our profession, this can be a lonesome place so the ADE program and events like ADE2012 are a welcome outlet. The ADE program encourages, endorses and validates the things we try to do as pirates of change in an otherwise rigid, stagnant profession.

But these notions keep bringing my thought process back to impartiality, the title ‘Apple Distinguished Educator’ implies some sort of ownership, it implies that we are part of the brand but let’s put ‘Apple’ to one side for one second. Many of the people I encountered this week are undoubtedly pioneers for change, people who have been brave enough to take risks with technology and pedagogy in their classrooms, this distinguishes them in some way from their peers, they are distinguishable from other educators and therefore they can be viewed as distinguished educators, at least in the eyes of Apple. Collectively these people are driving change, they are change agents willing to use any tool that supports their goal. Apple are undoubtedly change agents willing to go against the norm, Steve Jobs famously said ‘Its better to be a pirate than join the navy’ resulting in his Macintosh team hoisting a Jolly Roger flag above their office block. They were rebels, pirates who united together because they had a vision and believed in doing things a little differently. What was on their banner or flag didn’t matter, all that mattered was that they had a banner, an identity to set them apart from the norm. So what does the Apple banner mean for ADEs? It is their metaphor for change, it is their Jolly Roger and change is the foundation of their partnership with Apple. Over time, the symbology might vary but the ethos will stay the same. An ethos to never settle for good, to actively pursue better, to strive to be great. For as long as Apple continue to epitomise that ethos and continually champion change, then we should have no problem with impartiality and I will have no problem in declaring my status as an Apple Distinguished Educator.

– Daniel O Reilly, ADE


5 thoughts on “ADE2012 – embracing the change or embracing the brand?

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  2. DrGranma says:

    You got it, You really got it. as the song says.
    ADE 2000

  3. Julie Hearn says:

    Fabulous post Daniel..very well said. I too was questioned at length in the Blackbird Pub in Ballycotton by a former primary school teacher, she kept saying, “But aren’t you just giving Apple free marketing?” I had quite a long conversation with her that evening about the benefits that I gain from the mutual relationship the ADE program provides. I thought long and hard about that, and after much discussion and banter, I now believe and feel that I am the one who benefits more in the arrangement. My passion, knowledge, and ideas are multiplied by those who attend and with whom I connect. While Apple certainly benefits from our participation and our collective voice relating to their products and the actions that we take in our communities, the title of ADE and the relationship that it creates gives me a stronger voice to share my ideas. As a person who believes that fundamental changes are needed in the education system, I feel more capable to speak out when I have a community of fellow ADEs and Apple behind me. Time to speak out for change!

    Two thumbs up 🙂

    Julie Hearn
    Intermediate Teacher, Maple Ridge, Canada
    And of course…fellow Cork 2012 attendee 🙂

    • Thanks Julie! I think we get as much or as little out of the ADE community as we want. I know I’ll be communicating a lot more than I have been up until now, following the work of other ADE’S as much as I can!

      • Julie Hearn says:

        Please delete my duplicate??? And this of course…it’s unnecessary clutter on your blog!

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