I have had a number of discussions recently based around the question, "what computer platform is best for classrooms?". What I find interesting is the overwhelming favor of the iPad. There is never a great answer for why an iPad should be used in a classroom; the answers that justify an iPad, just as easily justify a Chromebook. I understand that the iPad is the gold standard when it comes to tablet computers (or at least that’s what everyone has been brainwashed to think), but I hate a notion that a tablet is not the answer.
According to EducationDrive, iPads have outsold Mac computers 2 to 1 for the last three years in the education department. Much of this can be attributed to the price tag of a $399 iPad vs that of a $999 Mac, however is the savings on price worth the lack of functionality? The Pro's and Cons of tablets in the classroom have hashed out extensively, however they almost always seem to lack the big picture. The most common pros and cons I have seen:
- Extending learning
- A vast library of resources
- Reducing printed material and books
- Improving STEM skills
- Engaging the hard to reach
- Breaking expensive technology
- Online safety and security
- An unnecessary distraction
- Battery limitations
This may sound silly, but hear me out: the lack of a keyboard is a huge loss! More so than ever, typing is a skill that must be mastered in our society. Utilizing touch first operating systems in a class environment creates a gap in a fundamental "real world" skill. For that reason alone I would recommend against using iPads in the classroom. This answer may be solved by new devices like the iPad Pro, but for $949 you might as well purchase a full computer with a much more capable operating system.
My current picks for classroom computers:
K-12 - Chromebook.
A Chromebook is inexpensive, secure, cloud enabled, multi-user friendly, and has almost full PC functionality through Chrome extensions.
Higher Ed - A full PC, a Macbook, or a 2-in-1.
My personal favorite devices are a Macbook Pro (I am still a Final Cut Pro user) and a Surface Pro. The Surface Pro has been fantastic as a school workhorse. The tablet interface is great for reading, PDF markups, while the Keyboard and mouse add on create a full PC experience.