dinsdag 16 augustus 2016

Chromebook or iPad?

Don't get me wrong, besides the fact that I'm a fan of Apple's hard- and software, I'm also an ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) and therefor this piece is not to bash Apple, but recently my affair with Google went to a next level.
At my school we've had almost two years of experience with 1:1 iPad (with and without the Apple TV as well) in the classroom and yet from the upcoming school year on we've chosen for a different device: the Chromebook. Here's why ...

I have loads of experience with the use of Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom during the past two years with the 1:1 iPad classes and recently I've bought myself a Chromebook as well and have been using that as my teaching device within the Google education ecosystem. The main reason for having gafe was that SMART amp™ only runs within a Google ecosystem, so for that order my school started - as a SMART Showcase School - to experiment with that as well and needed to have a Google Apps for Education domain.

But why the Chromebook instead of Apple's iPad? Unfortunately (as with many things) money was the main reason for the board of my school why we didn't want to continue with the iPad. For the next school year we were planning to use the iPad Air 32 GB (either version one or two), but since Apple has released the Pro version, the iPad Air was out of stock or at least will be very soon. Fair enough, but the pro version is twice as expensive and that would be too much to ask for parents to pay for ... And I'd like to add that this unfortunate news was recently presented after we already had promoted at open house the iPad as the device that would be used from the next school year on. We (and other schools and third parties in the Netherlands) were not very pleased with this and found this not very trustworthy. And the iPad is more likely to break than a Google laptop from our experience. The past two years each week one of the students iPads was broke and needed to be mended and since the iPad was a school device, school needed to pay for that and the administration guy that had to deal with these matters.

Fortunately there are many educational advantages of using a Chromebook instead of the iPad, which I think now after my experience is more a consumer device (as any tablet computer) and less a producer device due to the smaller screen, missing keyboard etc. And I have to agree with that. When I want to create something I'd rather use my MacBook or Chromebook for that matter than my iPad. I'm a fan of the iPad, but not really for this purpose.
So whenever we want to use Google Apps for Education (Apple's solution Classroom came a bit late and they missed that boat from my perspective) we would basically be independent from any device. And since BYOD is not recommend, the best solution would be a rockadiced laptop that would not be too expensive for parents to buy and good enough to work with for at least 4-6 years. After some research our conclusion was that the Chromebook would be the best one for our education and the way we want to teach in our school. 

And the downside of using the iPad in the classroom is that lots of applications we use within this Google platform are simplified versions of the applications that run in a browser and most other third party applications become more and more web apps and are running in a browser on a laptop computer as well.
We already have experienced that the Chromebook will be more easy and less expensive to manage by administration which is for most teachers a real advantage, due to the fact that students really do get distracted from the use of popular social media applications as Snapchat, Instagram and text messages from iMessage, who do not run in a browser on a laptop. Managing these and other applications seemed very hard and almost undoable. We tried several managing applications, but students do find a work around to get access to these applications anyway. 
And even sometimes when they wanted to use an education app it would not run, because the app was an older version and would not run on the latest iOS version, but couldn't update the app because the App Store was greyed out, in order to prevent the students from installing games and social media apps that will distract them from their main job whilst they are in school.

The upside of using the iPad (or any other tablet computer) is that the use of the camera and adding pictures in real time to certain applications that are in use for education is far more easy than the camera on a Chromebook or other laptop computer. And of course the iPad is more mobile and easier to use during field trips and/or outdoor assignments (which is something I do during my geography lessons). 

There. I've said it and it out there. People and other schools have better experiences with the iPad and/or worse experiences with a Chromebook for sure, but keep in mind that we've come to this conclusion based on almost two years of experience with 1:1 iPads and at least one year with Google Apps for Education. We think that this new path we've chosen fits better on our school. There is not one best way or solution for schools, because schools are very different and so is the way they teach and learn. I'm very enthusiastic about this new path and curious how this will work out for our school. I'll keep you updated.