One of the largest debates when education and technology meet is the type of device that a school or classroom should use. What works best, is the most user-friendly, is the most cost effective, the list goes on and on. So how do we get to the bottom of it? Staying true to myself I choose to use some good old pro/con comparisons between iPads and Chromebooks to see what I think would be the best device.
|CC image courtesy of Intel Free Press via Flickr|
Let’s start with iPads. There are many pros and cons to think about when it comes to getting a tablet for a classroom. The first thing I think of is that iPads are light, portable, and interactive. There are tons of free or low-cost educational games and apps that can be downloaded within seconds. iPads are also easy to learn how to use. Ever since the beginning, Apple has made sure their products are user-friendly. This is a big pro for iPads in elementary schools where most of the students have less technical knowledge. iPads are also typically less susceptible to virus’ compared to a PC or Chromebook.
One of the biggest cons that you run into when dealing with iPads is that they are considerably more expensive than Chromebooks. They are also fragile so the school will need to get a sturdy, protective case on every one of their iPads or they will be at high risk of breaking. These cases often cost upwards of $50, so that’s an added cost. Even with a case, there is always the possibility of a broken device, and iPads are notoriously difficult to fix. A broken iPad will either need to be sent to an Apple certified store or replaced altogether. Another con of iPads is the lack of keyboard; this issue is two-fold. In upper elementary classrooms not having a keyboard makes it difficult to use google docs or word to write papers and do homework. In addition to this, not having a keyboard means the students won’t be as familiar with a traditional keyboard which may put them behind when they begin to learn to type. While schools have the option to buy detachable keyboards for tablet devices, that’s just another added cost.
|CC image courtesy of Maurizio Pesce via Wikipedia Commons|
Chromebooks have their own set of positives and negatives. The obvious positive is that laptops by their very nature have keyboards and a track pad connected to them, so they are better for typing papers and doing research in higher grade levels. They are also significantly cheaper to initially purchase and replace, which means less monetary costs for the school.
A con is that the schools would need to have measures in place as well as some good anti-virus software to curb the possibility of getting a virus. Also, since laptops fold open and closed there is the possibility of them getting dropped and breaking in half. They are also more susceptible to liquid spilling on the keyboard and damaging the internal parts. Laptops are also more complex which means a higher learning curve for students who aren’t as technically advanced.
Overall, I think that iPads are more fitting for lower grade levels around pre-school to second grade and that Chromebooks or a laptop alternative would be better for upper elementary school students around third grade through middle school. The easy accessibility of iPads works well at acclimating young students to technology, and the array of app choices makes iPads a winner for lower grades. It is better for older students to have a keyboard so they can get accustomed to typing. It also allows them to work in a more mature and traditional device. While this isn’t to say that upper elementary students would have no use for an iPad or that having Chromebooks in a kindergarten class is silly, I just have concluded what I would prefer my students to have based on what I know about each device.
Check out what blogger Lucie Renard on BookWidgets.com has to say about the whole Chromebook versus iPad debacle.
What do you think is best to use in the classroom? Do you have any alternatives to these devices? Let me know in the comments below.