Schools lament shortcomings of Apple's iPad as some opt instead for Chromebooks

Posted:
in iPad edited October 2014
Even as Apple's education sales boom, some schools have begun to transition students and classrooms away from the iPad in favor of laptops -- including Google's cheap cloud-based Chromebooks -- as weaknesses have begun to emerge with the tablet form factor.



Some teachers and administrators -- such as those in Hillsborough, New Jersey -- cite the lack of a physical keyboard on the iPad as a major drawback, according to The Atlantic. Hillsborough chose Google's Chromebooks following a year-long trial of both devices.

"At the end of the year, I was upset that we didn't get the iPads," Hillsborough science teacher Larissa McCann told the publication. "But as soon as I got the Chromebook and the kids started using it, I saw, 'Okay, this is definitely much more useful.'"

Others noted that students seemed to perceive the iPad as a "fun" device, while the Chromebooks -- which have a traditional clamshell form factor -- are seen as "work" devices.

Problems have also arisen with the enterprise management features available for the iPad. IT administrators in Hillsborough said that managing Chromebooks, which act as essentially modern-day "thin clients" for web-based services, was significantly easier than managing the equivalent iPad deployment.

Other school districts have cited similar issues when shelving iPad initiatives. Houston, Texas suburb Fort Bend pumped the brakes on a $16 million iPad-centric education technology rollout late last year, and the Los Angeles Unified School District modified its own $1 billion operation in July to mix in Chromebooks and Windows laptops.

"Students were more comfortable on the laptop because of the amount of writing and the size of the screen," East L.A. Performing Arts Magnet Principal Carolyn McKnight said at the time. "It was really hard to see the whole problem on the iPad."

The choice of which device to use is likely to come down to the needs of each school, North Carolina teacher and administrator David Mahaley said.

"You'll probably never find the answer of what is the right device," he said. said. "First you have to ask: What do you want the device to do for your children?"

Apple has unabashedly touted the iPad's success in the education market in recent years. CEO Tim Cook said during the company's last earnings call that Apple sells 2.5 iPads for every Mac to education customers, while the iPad accounts for more than 90 percent of the tablets in education.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 337
    I would tend to think that if Apple is pushing iPads for school or work deployment, a keyboard case/stand would be standard issue. And if it's not, that's a failure of their marketing. Maybe this is the sort of thing they need IBM to help them wrap their heads around.
  • Reply 2 of 337
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member
    Isn't our education system in the US bad enough as it is?
  • Reply 3 of 337
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,515member
    The chromebookes used in my 13y/o nephew's school system has been a disaster. My nephew always approaches me to help me diagnose/fix his chromebook, resolve WiFi connectivity issues, and spends more time getting fixed (under warranty) than he gets to use it.

    Is this what the school system thinks is "useful"?
  • Reply 4 of 337
    Weird comparison... if they wanted the "work horse", then they should have bought MacBooks and not iPads...
  • Reply 5 of 337
    lmaclmac Posts: 204member

    If they think iPads have shortcomings, wait till they try Chromebooks. Chromebooks only give you the web, and no programs at all. If keyboards are the issue, that would have been a cheaper solution.

  • Reply 6 of 337
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,607member

    My son (two years old) uses a 7" Kindle Fire HDX for learning/alphabet/phonics games. It works perfectly for him because at his age, touch is everything -- and it only cost me $145 new. I can understand the the limited use of tablets (somewhat) in lower grades, but once you start getting up into the middle school/high school grades, a laptop makes infinitely more sense IMHO.

     

    My wife is a second grade teacher, and they have iPads in her grade level that are shared between the four classrooms (only one classroom can use them at a time). The school district basically got some money, bought the iPads and the rolling cart that they use to charge them up overnight. THAT'S IT!! They got some money and said, "Hey, let's buy some iPads." 



    There's no curriculum based on using the iPads

    No guidelines

    No approved list of apps

    NOTHING

     

    They basically just threw the iPads at the teachers and said "Make sense of this." As if teachers don't have enough on their plates already than to muck around though the sea of free/fremium apps on the App Store to find something relevant to their students.

  • Reply 7 of 337
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Is this another case of an anecdote being extrapolated out to mean DOOM for the iPad? If not then I think it's more evidence Apple is working on some sort of an "iPad Pro" that's suited for productivity. Perhaps the IBM partnership is more evidence.
  • Reply 8 of 337

    Gee, I really like my car, but I noticed there's no propeller on the grill.  Duh.  That's because your car is not an airplane.  If the school wants a computer, typically used to create content, they should have purchased computers.  The iPad is primarily a content delivery system.  Don't try to make a device something it's not.

  • Reply 9 of 337
    b9botb9bot Posts: 238member
    Lack of knowledge of administration and the fact you could add a bluetooth keyboard to an iPad obviously had something to do with it. Anyone who knows about iPads and using them in a corporate or school environment should know about how to administrate them properly. Obviously the schools IT has no clue or they would not have run into the problems they claim.
    Chromebooks are glorified Network terminals that have no software. I honestly don't see how those actually worked better except they are cheap pieces of crap at about $300.00. That's what those schools were looking for not something that would actually work in a classroom.
    Can't wait to hear about the many complaints that will come in when most of them fail, fall apart, or get infected with malware and viruses. Cheap is as cheap does which isn't a whole lot of anything.
  • Reply 10 of 337
    If I were in school today, I'd rather have a MacBook Air.
  • Reply 11 of 337
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    iPads are probably best for elementary school but in middle school is probably better to have a full keyboard and even a mouse so the Chromebook is reasonable machine for that. By the time the students enter high school they are going to need a full fledged computer. In college they should probably have a Windows capable machine even if it is a Mac. I know that many medical schools require Windows. It is good for the student to gain experience on a variety of platforms.

  • Reply 12 of 337
    lmaclmac Posts: 204member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post

     

    My son (two years old) uses a 7" Kindle Fire HDX for learning/alphabet/phonics games. It works perfectly for him because at his age, touch is everything -- and it only cost me $145 new. I can understand the the limited use of tablets (somewhat) in lower grades, but once you start getting up into the middle school/high school grades, a laptop makes infinitely more sense IMHO.

     

    My wife is a second grade teacher, and they have iPads in her grade level that are shared between the four classrooms (only one classroom can use them at a time). The school district basically got some money, bought the iPads and the rolling cart that they use to charge them up overnight. THAT'S IT!! They got some money and said, "Hey, let's buy some iPads." 



    There's no curriculum based on using the iPads

    No guidelines

    No approved list of apps

    NOTHING

     

    They basically just threw the iPads at the teachers and said "Make sense of this." As if teachers don't have enough on their plates already than to muck around though the sea of free/fremium apps on the App Store to find something relevant to their students.


     

    This would be a very valid point, except that I doubt any more thought went into the adoption of the Chromebooks, how they will be used, what they are good for, etc. It seems more like the standard educational thinking which is, basically, "Hey, we threw some iPads into the classroom without much in the way of planning or support and it didn't revolutionize teaching and learning, so let's throw them out and do Chromebooks instead because they are similarly priced and have a keyboard."

  • Reply 13 of 337
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,607member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lmac View Post

     

     

    This would be a very valid point, except that I doubt any more thought went into the adoption of the Chromebooks, how they will be used, what they are good for, etc. It seems more like the standard educational thinking which is, basically, "Hey, we threw some iPads into the classroom without much in the way of planning or support and it didn't revolutionize teaching and learning, so let's thrown them out and do Chromebooks instead because they are similarly priced and have a keyboard."




    Agreed completely. This is a case of districts getting their hands on money and seeing something "shiny" to purchase without first thinking through how these devices will be properly integrated into the classroom environment.

  • Reply 14 of 337
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,827member
    sflocal wrote: »
    The chromebookes used in my 13y/o nephew's school system has been a disaster. My nephew always approaches me to help me diagnose/fix his chromebook, resolve WiFi connectivity issues, and spends more time getting fixed (under warranty) than he gets to use it.

    Is this what the school system thinks is "useful"?

    What can go wrong with a Chromebook other than total failure? It loads a fresh copy of the OS every time it's cold-booted, and generally impervious to viruses and malware (because it loads a fresh clean copy of the OS at boot). I suppose there might be occasional wi-fi connectivity issues but what mobile computer doesn't at least once in a great while? It doesn't get much simpler than a Chromebook.
  • Reply 15 of 337
    I've been saying for ages, bring on the 13" iPad. With a keyboard, there could still potentially be big savings and benefits over laptops in education, if Apple made sure of that.
  • Reply 16 of 337
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    The only issue is a lack of proper planning.

    If keyboards are necessary then the school district should identify the requirement and include keyboards in the quote.
    There are a considerable number of options for mobile device management for Apple iOS devices. Management of mobile devices is another requirement that school districts need to identify prior to general release.
    Screen size ...
    Mouse ...
    Purpose (computer programming education, eBook-based curriculum, traditional supporting role such as documents, presentations and spreadsheets, visual arts & media education, etc.) ...
    Use Restrictions ...
    Apps ...

    These are all planning issues. Seemingly, school districts are buying a solution without having identified a problem.
  • Reply 17 of 337

    Why this wasn't obvious from the start is a mystery to me.

     

    The iPad, as complex and wonderful as it is, is not really ready for prime time. Never has been imo.

     

    Great for content... not quite up to the task (yet) of workhorse.

     

    I give it another 4 or 5 years. Tops.

  • Reply 18 of 337
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Schools are an archaic concept. They are publicly funded babysitting services with marginal utility for learning. Anyone who can afford it should either homeschool or go with a private school. I have a suspicion that everything one learns in grade school through high school could be learned in less than half the time with a concentrated learning environment.
  • Reply 19 of 337

    Surely the addition of a keyboard is much more valuable that the addition of some useful software, right?  I would validate a discussion about iPad vs. full computer, but I am sorry, I cannot put Chromebook in that group.

  • Reply 20 of 337
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by b9bot View Post



    Lack of knowledge of administration and the fact you could add a bluetooth keyboard to an iPad obviously had something to do with it.

    So does price. It is hard to compete with $299 Chromebook that already comes with a keyboard. The variety of apps available for iPad is absolutely astounding, however if the curriculum is heavy on writing and typing, the full keyboard is important. Google Docs is adequate for writing and spreadsheet type tasks. The web is not so good for math though. MathHTML is still too difficult to work with. The math apps for iPad are mostly fun and games type learning. I haven't seen any serious junior high school level math apps, although I'm sure there must be some. Personally, I still think old fashion paper and pencil is best for learning math like in Kahn Academy. Showing your work and drawing graphs and geometry is better than having a computer render them automatically in my opinion.

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