Schools are realizing iPads don’t make sense for schools

I’ve long maintained that the real competition for Chromebooks aren’t Windows PCs, they’re tablets. Here’s what I wrote:

[The Chromebook] is a device people with low computing needs might deem good enough. It’s capable for mail, web browsing and light office work; and for most people, that’s all they ever need…You know what else is excellent for low computing needs? Tablets, which have already been eating into the PC market for years for precisely that reason. If Chromebooks didn’t exist today, I suspect more tablets would have been sold in its place instead of Ultrabooks.

Chromebooks so far have found most success in the education market, where the device has gone head to head with — you guessed it — the iPad. I also wrote how ridiculous it is for schools to choose iPads over Chromebooks:

Education for children of that age is also relatively basic — it’s about teaching them where and how to research information (browser), how to type (keyboard) and how to write reports (Google docs) — and for that Chromebooks are perfectly adequate. You don’t need anything more advanced (Office) until later, where a similarly priced Windows machine might make more sense.

What doesn’t make any sense are iPads. iPads are consumption devices — what would you need to teach about consumption to kids? Here’s a videogame you should play? Here’s how you watch videos? Here’s how you use Facebook?

Why would you teach a child how to type with an onscreen keyboard instead of a real one?

Add to it the fact that iPads cost nearly twice as Chromebooks, and it just boggles the mind that iPads are doing well in schools at all.

Is this the best way of teaching kids how to type?

The market may have finally started taking notice. IDC reports that, for the first time, Chromebooks outsold iPads in the education sector last quarter.

The research firm claims that Google shipped 715,000 Chromebooks to schools in the third quarter, while Apple shipped 702,000 iPads to schools. Chromebooks as a whole now account for a quarter of the educational market.

I love my iPad, but that Apple ship number should be closer to zero.

3 thoughts on “Schools are realizing iPads don’t make sense for schools

  1. I will have to both agree and disagree with you here.

    I agree that if what you need is basically a cheap, barebones-featured laptop, a chromebook makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t come with the complexities and the problems inherent in Windows (meaning fewer problems to troubleshoot and lesser disruptions to lessons). I also agree that for Google’s suite of apps is quite functional. You get web-browsing (together with flash support), Google Drive / Docs, Email, Classroom and even Draw,

    If the curriculum, as you suggested, doesn’t go beyond web research and collaborative work via Google Docs (heck, I can even use it for powerpoint presentations), I agree a chromebook makes a lot of financial sense (it’s hard to argue with and against price in the enterprise setting).

    That said, I disagree that there is no place for ipads in school. The issue I see here is that people are trying to use them to replace laptops. The iPad is not a laptop replacement, so when you attempt to use them for laptop-related tasks, it comes as little surprise that the iPad will be a poor fit for those activities.

    Let’s see what the iPad (or any tablet) brings to the party. It lacks a keyboard, which makes it more mobile and easier to use outdoors. It has an integrated camera (which I suppose might cause some problems with social media – what’s stopping a pupil from taking a contentious photo in class and uploading it to Facebook?). It has apps optimised for touch and direct input.

    How might this be useful? Say you are conducting a lesson on perpendicular and parallel lines. Get the pupils to take photos of their surroundings, point out any such lines (eg: annotating on them in skitch or educreations), record a screencast of themselves “teaching” each other said concept, and uploading it for peer review.

    If pupils are outdoors on an excursion, get them to take photos on their iPad and blog directly via the wordpress app. Record a skit via the green screen app or edit it via iMovie. Likewise, what’s wrong with getting pupils to type on an onscreen keyboard? It’s not the teacher’s job to teach them how to type on a physical keyboard anyways.

    I personally feel the possibilities of iPads in education are endless; the issue here is teachers not being adequately trained to maximise its potential. The mode of instruction and the curriculum need to change accordingly as well, and that is where I find the gaping flaw is.

    In short, blame the school for making the wrong call on which computing device to get for their pupils, but don’t be so quick to dismiss the iPad as a “mere” consumption device. There are many people using the iPad everyday in their work, after all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great comment Ken. I do agree that iPads are of value, but simply not of the “every kid should have one” kind. Maybe a school keeps a stash of iPads for a classroom to use once in the every while they need it, but for day-to-day learning Chromebooks are just fine.


      1. A little late but just came across this blog and was reading older posts. My Girlfriend is a teacher in Canada and has been working primarily doing math resource for elementary students and this is how it works. They have an iPad cart with a stash of iPad’s that teachers can use. In their case there are a lot of education oriented apps for teaching younger children, and that is a much different use case than what laptops are being used for.

        Liked by 1 person

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