iPads or Laptops or Windows Tablets for a school district?

Discussion in 'All Things Apple' started by MrEgo, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. MrEgo

    MrEgo Senior member

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    Hi everyone,

    I posted the same thing in the Windows forum, but I'd also like to post it here to see if there's another angle from the posters that only post here.

    Our school district is considering moving to a 1:1 initiative where all 5-12 students will have a mobile device, whether it be an iPad, Laptop, or some other tablet or smartphone, and I was just wondering if I could get your input on what the advantages and disadvantages of each would be?

    Try to keep the flames to a minimum. This is not an Apple versus everyone else discussion.

    Obviously it's harder to type on a tablet without a physical keyboard. iOS doesn't have a file system that you can browse. It's difficult to print from iOS (can you even do it?) Are you able to plug USB drives into an iPad? We cannot manage iPads through group policy...

    However, the battery life, portability, and app availability is excellent for an iPad...

    I'm just looking for more objective measures to take into consideration for this.
     
  2. runawayprisoner

    runawayprisoner Platinum Member

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    What will the students use the iPad/Laptop/Windows tablets for?
     
  3. Red Storm

    Red Storm Lifer

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    Yeah, unless there's some serious thought about the actual teaching methods and content being put to use with this, sounds like someone in management thinks tablets are cool and so everyone should have them.

    I personally do not see the benefit vs. cost in giving every kid their own tablet.
     
  4. TheStu

    TheStu Moderator<br>Mobile Devices & Gadgets
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    Obviously it's harder to type on a tablet without a physical keyboard.
    You'd be surprised, I have seen plenty of examples of kids typing at full speed, without looking at the screen, in a classroom environment. Trust in the auto-correct

    iOS doesn't have a file system that you can browse.
    True, but what of it?

    It's difficult to print from iOS (can you even do it?)
    Not significantly more difficult than any other properly set up network printing system

    Are you able to plug USB drives into an iPad?
    No, but why would you want to?

    We cannot manage iPads through group policy
    Not exactly, but Apple offers tools that can be offer similar benefits

    You already know the advantages and disadvantages.

    If you go for Windows 8 tablets, then you are looking at things that are expensive, and although they'll have the almighty Office, that is about it. They won't be designed for touch, so that leads us to Windows laptops

    These will be heavier and have more moving parts than the iPad. They will get worse battery life and won't have the benefit of the rich, interactive textbooks that the iPad offers.

    You could get Windows RT tablets, but they have the same problem as Android tablets. The 16:9 interface is... less than ideal in my opinion, but more importantly, the dearth of good educational software for both platforms rules them out. If you are going to go for tablets, then don't go for these.

    So, that leaves us with the iPad, the disadvantages of which include things like theft, upfront cost and whatnot.

    Disclaimer: I am absolutely not trying to be patronizing or anything of the sort with this next bit.

    I have seen lots of examples, both personally when I was in school, and online of those that have tried to introduce technology into schools. And it seems that there are 2 approaches, and in my opinion, one is better than the other.
    1: Treat the laptop/tablet/whatever as a simple replacement for something else. SmartBoards replaced overheard projectors/blackboards in my school, and I mean exactly that. That was how they were used, which seems like a lot of money to spend for that sort of thing.
    2: Restructure around the new device, but work to make the restructuring less dependent upon the specific device than on the new avenues of learning that the device class can open up.

    Check out http://speirs.org/. This guy works for a school in Scotland that rolled out a 1:1 iPad program that has been wildly successful.

    Some of the examples from his blog that stick out for me, was when they put AppleTVs in every classroom. Now a student can press a button on their iPad and project their latest art project or presentation onto a screen and show it off for the class.
     
  5. Oyeve

    Oyeve Lifer

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    Why dont they ask the kids what they use personally? I remember arounf 15 years ago when my son was in grade school they decided to go all mac. It was a disaster as 99% of the kids had PCs at home. I dont know what the home-use ratio is today but it would certainly be wise to do a poll to see what these kids actually use.
     
  6. runawayprisoner

    runawayprisoner Platinum Member

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    On a side note, it seems USB devices are being over-emphasized these days... when back in the days, they were only used to transfer files.

    Nowadays, I'm sure we all can just email documents to ourselves. It's not like kids carry around GBs worth of source code or 3D data to school...
     
  7. MrX8503

    MrX8503 Diamond Member

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    File system - Air disk pro app
    Printer - Printer Pro app

    You could also use Dropbox for file system.

    As for typing you can get a Bluetooth keyboard. Logitech makes a great one that's also a snap on cover.
     
    #7 MrX8503, Jan 9, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  8. MrEgo

    MrEgo Senior member

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    This is being done, but I also wanted to get some outside perspective on this on top of everything that we're doing. I do agree with what you're suggesting, and it's something that we are taking into consideration.
     
  9. MrEgo

    MrEgo Senior member

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    Yeah, I agree. Convenient? Yes. Deal breaker? Not at all.
     
  10. TuxDave

    TuxDave Lifer

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    Very cool. Thanks for sharing!
     
  11. MrEgo

    MrEgo Senior member

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    The device is not going to drive the teaching, it's going to be the other way around, but it seems like we can make most devices work with what we want to do... it's just a matter of finding the most convenient device. There are going to be pros and cons of each.

    Classwork will be delivered online through Moodle, EdModo, SharePoint, or whatever the teacher prefers (unless that get standardized down the road.) We are stressing the "anytime, any place, anywhere, any pace" theme.
     
  12. Theb

    Theb Diamond Member

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    I think it comes down to whether the device will primarily be for creating content or consuming content. Laptops are better for creating content, tablets are great for consuming content.

    If you go with a tablet I would go with the ipad. It has 80% of the market. It has the content. My second choice would be Kindle Fire. It's a great device for how cheap it is and you've got Amazon behind it for content.
     
  13. joutlaw

    joutlaw Golden Member

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    iOS has the ability to be profiled. This can be done through a MDM provider (MaaS360, AirWatch, etc.) or by connecting each device to PC with the iPhone Configuration Utility.

    This automates a lot of setup options and can restrict certain functionality in iOS. It doesn't go as indepth a group policy can, but is more than what is offered by Android or Windows 8 RT.

    My opinion would be an Intel based Windows 8 tablet. Existing infrastructure is in place and you don't have the Apple lifecycle.
     
  14. dave_the_nerd

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    Or just by using an OS X server with Profile Manager. (Actually works pretty well.

    I would say a mix of OS X and Windows laptops. Make the kids learn to adapt and consider things like file compatibility. It's good for them.

    iHate iPads with an iPassion.
     
  15. rugby

    rugby Senior member

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    iPads tend to replace/supplement teaching materials and laptops tend to replace/supplement content creation. We've found laptops are more useful for older students and iPads more useful for younger kids. I couldn't imagine 11 year olds treating laptops well. We've done several rollouts for both types of environments and they both have their purposes.
     
  16. Rottie

    Rottie Diamond Member

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    It depends on what programs your school will have then go with which laptop/tablets.
     
  17. naddicott

    naddicott Senior member

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    I would also suggest looking into whether Chromebooks could meet your needs. You get the price range of a tablet with a physical keyboard, plus Google has some back end support for education (http://bit.ly/l72a9h , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yYFVXhEX88).

    From the first link (2011 - not sure of the current prices):
    For much more detailed discussion of people's attempts at implementing these various things, I would also point you to the classroom 2.0 forums, which is a community dedicated to all things digital in the classroom. http://www.classroom20.com/forum/topic/search?q=iPad
     
  18. Kaido

    Kaido Lifer

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    That's a big, big question. For starters, how long does the school plan on each student having the mobile device for? One year? 7 years? And then of course, what's the rollout implementation? What do you do if you want to run AutoCAD or MATlab? Will all of the teaching materials be rewritten into a format like iBooks?

    At first blush, I think the best answer would be a Windows laptop with a swiveling screen that turns into a chunky tablet. That way you get a keyboard for typing, a real OS to run everything, but also portability features. Really though, I think something like an Ultrabook with Deep Freeze and then a Dropbox account would be the way to go...thin & light, pre-load all the apps, wipes itself upon reboot, and all files are stored in a safe, centralized network location, plus you're not completely screwed if you don't have network access, like you would with a thin-client laptop or device.

    iPads are really fun devices and would fit really nicely alongside a laptop. Centralized management and printing are doable. If the teachers got onboard with content distribution (pushing digital copies of syllabuses out, receiving homework digitally, etc.) it could work really well. Lots of great educational apps, great battery life, reading, portability, etc.

    If you really want to invest some money, you could do something like Citrix and give them full desktop access through their iPads or via a web browser at home or a thin client at school. That way they get a full desktop experience (well, ish) but it's device-independent. The iPad is a great consumption device, but creation gets a bit more tricky...I certainly wouldn't want to type a 10-page research paper on it, haha. But if you could carry an iPad to school, use apps and access your files, connect to your remote desktop over a Citrix-style system, and then go home and hop on your computer to type stuff up (and still connect to your Citrix-style remote desktop environment), then that would be pretty nice.

    I've done work with a large company that has implemented this...all of their mobile employees either have a basic laptop or an iPad and then remote in via Citrix. It's not really feasible for power users (CAD engineers or video editors, for example, although the technology is certainly getting better for working remotely in those areas), but for most students that would probably be a pretty nice, centralized way to go.
     
  19. Kaido

    Kaido Lifer

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    So just throwing out a few more centralized-network ideas, both VMware and Citrix (and Microsoft, I guess) have some pretty nice stuff out for this type of setup. Dell sells thin-client laptops now:

    http://www.wyse.com/products/cloud-clients/mobile-clients/X90mw

    As well as tiny little thin client "desktop" units that can even run dual monitors:

    http://www.wyse.com/products/cloud-clients/thin-clients/C10LE

    And Citrix Receiver on a Retina iPad is pretty nice:

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/citrix-receiver/id363501921?mt=8

    So the kids can have a thin-client laptop or an iPad to tote around, and in the classrooms & libraries actually sit down at a desk with a big monitor and keyboard to do typing. And all of the devices connect to their personal desktops over the network, which lets them access shared network resources (classroom paperwork, homework folders, etc.).