Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.
Here’s a great question I got from Roxi in South Africa:
Please could you share with us your opinion on school i-pads for ALL work the learners do. We have many requests from parents wanting to know when we will be switching to i-pads only. There seem to be many schools over the world that actually only use android devices for all their work and have great success in doing so. I have just started to research recently but up to now it seems to me that one cannot do all the academic stuff you need to do on an i-pad as comfortably and as inexpensively as you can do on a computer. Also the paradigm shift and hours of work to apply the curriculum to using androids might prove to be quite a daunting tasks for teachers who not confident with technology.
We have 3 labs at our school – I find that our learners are very much challenged and learn something new every day using laptops and computers. Please could you let me know what your findings are.
This is a question so many schools are struggling with. IPads are the exciting new toy (like laptops were just a few years ago) so schools are taking the issue of whether or not to buy seriously. Consider these Pros and Cons:
IPads have a great purpose in education:
- kids love them, are excited to learn anything that is taught via an iPad. What’s not to like about that as a teacher? Students will practice math facts, read books, happily gamify learning.
- iPads are light-weight, easy to care for, boot up quickly, and are fairly sturdy
- compared to a laptop, iPads are affordable. That leaves lots of money for other uses
- they are easier to care for, have less IT issues, and are not as likely to be ‘messed with’ by students. Plus, a certain amount of the upkeep can be performed easily by teachers
- iPads are great for collaboration–maybe better than laptops (unless you’re a Google Apps school. That could drop this off the list)
- for those parts of education that are media-centric–such as viewing videos, reading books, drawing–it’s hard to beat the iPad.
- iPad battery life is long compared to a laptop. Students don’t have to remember to recharge as often
- iPads have a much higher ease of use and accessibility than laptops. Between instant on, touch screen, not as many choices, they are much simpler to get up to speed on.
- I have to admit, iPads make recording, taking videos and pictures much simpler than if I used the laptop. Find out how important this is to teachers as you make your decision.
But there are downsides: