Apple Distinguished Educator Reject

**UPDATE: I have since been selected to join the Apple Distinguished Educator class of 2013

My application for the Apple Distinguished Educator program was recently rejected. This is the second year in a row that I’ve been turned down for the program, and this year, I’m really left scratching my head. Last year, in a rush to honour the deadline set out for applications, I admittedly submitted a subpar application video. But this year I really devoted a great deal of time and effort to putting together an application form and video that I thought was pretty good (I shared this video here in a previous post).

So I’d love to hear feedback on how you think I might improve my application and chances for success if I choose to apply again in future. Particularly those of you who are already part of the ADE network, I’d really appreciate hearing any advice and tips that you might have to offer. In my application document, I highlighted my development of a Japan-wide reading program site that I created and now moderate, my work with my students in using databases and ebooks, my work in my masters of educational technology program, my professional learning community on twitter, my role as coordinator of online courses at my school, and my involvement in the design and implementation of the upcoming 1:1 laptop program at my school. What am I missing? What makes some applications stand out over others? Please be brutally honest with you comments, as I’m really at a loss here.

28 thoughts on “Apple Distinguished Educator Reject

  1. Let me start by saying that you would make an awesome ADE. That’s a given – especially because you would use you powers for good, not just to pad your CV and puff out your ego. That said, I didn’t get the full extent of your computer savvy awesomeness from your video. Having briefly toyed with the idea of ADE myself, I saw the video application part as a chance to be a little more “in your face” with exactly how you are using technology and probably more specifically, Apple technology. In addition to the footage of kids using technology in the library, include images with text descriptors of your reading site and the other things you mention. Include footage of your use of other apple programs and products ( twittering on your iPhone ). I think it is just possible that they didn’t fully understand that you were not just talking about the impact of technology, you were the facilitator of this within the school, specifically the library. Ultimately I don’t think you sold yourself as hard as you could have. I know it is not your thing to blow your own trumpet ( do you know that expression!?) but I think you will see that more and more often the squeaky wheel does get the most grease, even when it’s not really deserved. More than anything, keep it in perspective. Your actions on a daily basis as a distinguished educator will speak more loudly than those who hold the official title but perhaps lack the genuine distinction. And, as Eddie said, who needs apples when you have maple syrup? 🙂


  2. Hey Brian – I saw this posting through . Here’s my “brutally honest” assessment – I get rejected all the time for fellowship applications, etc. so I know how this process can be really unfair!

    By looking at the ADE website, it seems like a feature in common for the recipients is that they all utilize Apple products (i.e. iPhones, iPads, etc.) to change the manner by which they educate. If you read what they write on their site, it becomes pretty apparent that this might be a prerequisite for receiving this award:

    “The Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) program was created to recognize K-12 and higher education pioneers who are using a variety of Apple products to transform teaching and learning.”

    While your contributions are extremely impressive, it’s not readily apparent how you are utilizing “hard” technologies (i.e. Apple hardware), vs blogs, databases, websites, etc. which perhaps Apple isn’t as well known in. Perhaps this is where your 1:1 laptop program might come into play?

    Perhaps in your application video, it might be nice if you would speak to the challenges/considerations that go into educating in Japan – your video is pretty vague in that it could have come from some random educator in middle America. Your story is very sexy – i.e. a Canadian living in Japan, working with young students, introducing them to new ideas, etc. – so you want to highlight that.


  3. Thanks for the great feedback Sonya and John. If I decide to apply again, I’ll certainly take these things into consideration. I have a hard time bragging about myself, and to be honest, I’m not sure if I really want to just to get in. But you’re both right, I think I could have been more implicit about how I’m using Apple technologies in my school.


  4. Who Needs the ADE? That career branding fad is now passe… -Go for the Google Certified Educator -thats the latest status symbol -advertising for a new corporate giant that claims to have education at the heart of it’s quest for greater profits.. Ironic..

    Bro –you don’t need any of these stamps of approval from business entities –the best way to be distinguished or certified is by being there for your students -they’ll validate you and your efforts with far more integrity than some company.


  5. Thanks for the comments. I must admit that I do have some concern with private companies leading these initiatives, as while I’m sure their intentions are often genuine, they are also primarily motivated by increasing profits. It’s somewhat unfortunate then that some schools actively seek out qualifications such as the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) program, and so as an educator, I’m made to feel that it’s important for me to pursue this.

    The application process for the ADE was not at all transparent, and while I hope that my application was judged strictly on its own merits, I’m not confident that that is what actually happened. I will respect Apple’s decision though, and don’t want to publicly share why I believe this to be the case.

    It’s somewhat ironic that this post is often one of the top hits when searching for information about the ADE program. For a program that hopes to engage educators in learning and collaboration, it appears that the ADE network is very much a closed shop, with not a lot of publicly available information.


  6. Ask your Apple rep. They can probably tell you how you measure up against other schools. The bar is getting very high. There were schools doing 1:1 ten years ago. It’s about innovation. You just can’t do what someone else did last year. Only a handful of people get selected. You also have to back up what you did with a measureable improvement in scores. The are about results more than process.


  7. Thanks for the feedback John. Applications for the next round have just opened, and so I’m now debating whether I should bother applying again or not.


  8. This information is so helpful for me. I am a technology teacher and I recently received the email for the ADE application. I am interested in applying just to have the opportunity to network with other educators because I am running out of ideas. After reading your post and watching the video, I feel a little intimidated to say the least. Ive read what little information I could find online – the idea is to get ideas and have this to add to your resume, right?
    Please enlighten me and excuse my ignorance but thanks again for even addressing this. Its really helping me in the event that I apply.


  9. Thanks for the comment Sammy. The requirements are meant to generally be the same, but essentially you’re competing against whoever else is applying in your country that year. There are so many spots per country, but there’s really no way of knowing how many people apply for those spots each year. If you are in contact with someone working with Apple Education in your country you can ask for clarification from them.

    I would agree that the program is a good way of meeting and networking with other educators. Unfortunately much of this collaboration is expected to happen in Apple’s closed forum system though.

    Best of luck with your application!


  10. It all comes down to do you really need a company to verify your teaching? What are the real reasons of why you are doing this? Can you still do this without the ‘label’? Would it be better to be recognised by your peers vs. a company? How would this be different than using ‘test scores’ to prove your teacher performance vs. a portfolio that you keep with kid artifacts? I’m in the same predicament as you and the deadline is soon!


  11. Thanks for the comment Johnny.

    I likely will apply again this year, but perhaps not for the same reasons that I have applied for in the past. In my region, this year’s training looks to be quite extensive, and I think it would be a great chance to learn with a good group of like-minded educators. While the distinction would still be nice to have on my CV, I think there’s even greater value in the network and discussions that you’d be a part of if you’re able to join this group.

    Best of luck to you if you end up applying.


  12. Pingback: Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013 « brian farrell

  13. Ha! I just did a search for ADE reject and landed on your post. I’m sulking because I got my reject letter today (first attempt.) I see you got in for 2013…excellent! Now give us some tips!!!


  14. Hi Lesley,

    It’s definitely disappointing to not make it into the program, but it appears that it pays to be persistent. I found it valuable to share my previous application videos online here and in person with my colleagues, as their feedback was quite helpful in fine-tuning my application. You’ve got lots of time to think about how you want to frame things for the next round of applications, and I wish you the best of luck with it!


  15. Hello Brian,

    Congratulations! I guess I will be seeing you in Bali as i made the cut this year myself. Should be a great week.

    I hope you are enjoying your new job.

    Sean over (P.S. What did you think of GAFE Tokyo 2012?)


  16. Hey Sean, congrats to you too! I’m definitely looking forward to Bali!

    I thought the GAFE summit was quite good, and I’m going to try to head to the one in Seoul in September as well.

    See you in a couple of weeks!


  17. Don’t bother trying to get an answer out of Apple or the Apple Education rep. You will get their lock stock “we don’t give out those secrets” response. The application is only valued if you can afford to pay your way …


  18. Hi ‘also rejected’. I found the feedback that I gained here to be valuable in tweaking my application for another try, and was successful in the most recent round of applications. I don’t know what you’re inferring with your last statement, but rest assured, there was nothing insidious about my acceptance this year. Try to ask for some constructive feedback from your peers, and keep plugging away at things. Best of luck to you!


  19. This forum has been helpful. To add to the pool of resources on this subject I just posted: How to Become an Apple Distinguished Educator (or ADE)
    Please take a look and feel free to share it around.

    Thanks Brian, it was good to catch up!


  20. Hi Brian,

    I enjoyed your post, I’m thinking of applying for the next intake. It’d be my first application but I’d like to get it as right as possible first time around. My school has a 1:1 iPad deployment and I’m developing an ambitious iBook program for our younger students as well as using the iPad to integrate differentiated resources. I was wondering if you had any other tips of things I could be looking at before the next intake.



  21. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your comment. They really want to see how you’re using Apple technologies successfully in your classroom, and so I think you’re already on the right track. There are lots of different approaches to take when making your application video, and you can find many examples of these online. Ideally, I think you’ll want to have snapshots of students and yourself working together, but I realize this can sometimes be difficult in terms of arranging permission.

    I believe that the next round of applications won’t be until 2015, but I haven’t seen anything official, that’s just my understanding. It may differ depending on which region of the world that you’re in as well.

    Seeking feedback really helped me to fine-tune my application and understand the process better. I have nothing to do with the application process, but I’d be happy to have a look at your application video before you submit it if you’d like.


    Liked by 1 person

  22. Bria, thanks for the response. I’ve got some ideas about what we’re doing. Id love to send you a link to our book once it’s up and running too. I really want to prep and get this right.


  23. Thanks Brian,

    Thanks for sharing your situation. I’m just putting together my ideas for the video now and I’m trying to read everything I can. On another note but still related, I’ve got 2 weeks only and the link to the application appears to be broken. I requested to be notified when applications were being accepted and Apple got in touch. I assumed clicking on the link in the email I received would take me directly to the application however it took me to the original place where I signed in with my appleID and requested to be notified….Has anyone applying for the 2015 program had a problem?
    Thanks in advance to anyone who can help. I have enough stress teaching full time and trying to put together a movie for the first time without this too!
    Fred in Yokohama


  24. Hi Fred,

    The application link should be open at Try logging in there and see if you have any luck. I have a colleague who has been able to log in there and get started on his application. If you’re not having any luck there, leave me another comment and I’ll put you in touch with someone at Apple.

    Best of luck with the application! Don’t stress too much; just focus on the good stuff that you’re doing with Apple technologies with your students.



  25. Hi Springs,

    Your application video highlights lots of great activities that you’ve been working on with your students, but I think the biggest element missing is showing what impact this has had. How has your using Apple technologies improved the learning and engagement in your classroom? How has it changed your approach to teaching and your own professional growth? Don’t go overboard with how many apps you know, but instead focus on how these technologies can impact learning.

    Your video is also longer than the time limit given for applications. Keep in mind that reviewers are looking at hundreds upon hundreds of applications, so it’s wise to keep it to the two minute limit.

    Best of luck with the next round of applications!


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