Many on the ISED-L list have expressed interest this week in discussing iPads vs. laptops (or TabletPC, etc.) in the context of one-to-one programs, and this was also discussed back in March. It seems that several schools with successful one-to-one programs are contemplating a transition to iPads. Some factors that come to mind include:
One of the most interesting things that I've heard about 1:1 iPad classrooms is that the device is less intimidating than laptops. Students and teachers seem very comfortable operating iPads from the get-go, as opposed to laptops or tablet PCs which seem to require a significant amount of user-management. Therefore some teachers feel the iPad technology fits much more seamlessly and less intrusively into their classrooms. This seems a significant point in this debate.
Whatever device we choose should support specific and concrete instructional goals. I want to base hardware decisions on what teachers want to have happen within their classrooms. If teachers primarily want students to be writing and researching, that helps decide what type of hardware and software we need. If teachers want students to be collaborating on google docs, creating multimedia learning artifacts, and organizing themselves electronically then it might dictate a different device. We should define the teachers' instructional goals (present and future) when deciding what types of devices to get. As teachers embrace more electronic transactions for instruction and student organization, and as the hardware and software evolves it is difficult to hit a moving target, but each step ought to be justified by instructional goals.
So what are your thoughts on iPads vs. Laptops?
I agree... if right now someone forced me to choose between a laptop and an iPad to be my one-and-only computing device, I would choose the laptop. However, if someone said you can have a desktop at home and either an iPad or a laptop to carry around everywhere, I might take the iPad. Best case: I have the desktop at home, a laptop, and an iPad.
One thing that struck me recently when visiting an iPad school was when the middle school head pointed out that the iPad is not a "scaled down version of a computer, it is a different platform with different capabilities." I think there is something to this. The iPad's instant-on, lightness, segregation of function by app, reliability, battery-life, iBook/eText possibilities, and touchscreen create an interesting platform.
Hi Jim, I've been thinking about your statement:
It's too soon to say when an iPad is going to be a "laptop replacement," and I agree that right now that isn't true, and it isn't likely to be true 12 months from now either.
You're right--it isn't. However, maybe it is the one device idea that we need to give up on for the next few years. What the ipad replaces for me more than anything else is paper and media consumption. I've moved most of my magazine subscriptions to the iPad (checkout National Geographic if you haven't). It's replaced flashcards and (some) coloring toys for my children. It's replaced scrapbooking. I imagine that my current Kindle will be my last one.
I know that there are criticisms from Matt and others that the iPad is for consumption--but I'd argue that consuming great novels, scientific journals, music and other ideas is not necessarily solely a passive undertaking. Making it easy to consume and catalog/organize the best media is worthy.
I'm with Demetri--I think I'm going to *need* an iPad, a laptop, a smart phone, and a desktop for quite a few years to come.
Hey Sarah, just to be clear, I think the iPad is a fine platform for creating *some* content. I just believe it falls short in a few key areas...and I believe these key areas to be pedagogically rich and a huge loss when going all-in with iPads for 1-1.
I'm smiling. I get much use out of all three devices myself and can't imagine giving one up right now!
I appreciate your response. It is one of the best responses I've yet received to the questions I'm puzzling through.
You make a great point with the following statement:
I'm not saying that one should, but we might consider stacking the high-end weaknesses of regular laptops next to the low-end weaknesses of iPads, and ask the quesiton if the labs and dedicated tech for special purposes really isn't going away, and perhaps the mobile technology carried all day could be lighter and less comprehensive.
This may be a really good option for those schools who have the resources, but I'm now in a school that won't have this luxury. We have 1250 students in 9-12 and we'll be lucky to have 1-2 labs when we go 1-1 (we probably won't have labs, due to limited resources). Given this contraint, I have real reservations about giving every student an iPad. For some students this will be their second or third computing device, which is fine. But for some, it will be their primary and sole computer. Even if we do maintain a lab or two, logistics tell me that these kids won't be able to access the lab very often. So for us, it most likely will be one tool.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply.
Last year my school contemplated an iPad 1:1. As part of that process, several iPads were issued to students. Their consensus was that the iPads did not provide the functionality needed to replace laptops.
Our 1:1 iPad trial in two grade 4 classrooms is going well so far, with several innovative and fun uses. Keyboarding is still done partly in a lab, and partly with the Zagg keyboard cases.
We also have a pilot with a set of 16 in the HS, and no word yet on that pilot (still starting up).
Looking at our particular needs, I believe the iPads may have too many limitations to fulfill the HS needs. We've been researching this carefully, and I should post the results on my blog before long. Our sense is that as Macbook Airs and iPads become more similar over time, the branch we would vote to begin with is the Macbook Air. In the future, if they had touch screens and a fold over solution for a tablet form factor, things could be interesting... If Macbook Airs had an easy way to insert a SIM card for a data plan, that would help as well.
Now, if we can only get the new Airs to work with projectors reliably... :)
iPads with keyboards vs. Macbook Airs: http://www.k12converge.com/?p=937