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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

ipads or laptops

ipads or laptops

Related Tags: Classroom Technology
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Which is the better choice for the classroom ipads or laptops? Our school is looking into stepping up the technology; up until this year it was laptops...now ipads are the hot topic. Any opinions out there?

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christine's picture
Technolgy Integration Specialist

I am the tech coordinator at a technology magnet school. We have approx. 560 students and 420 laptops and 300 iPads. When I was purchasing this year I asked this question of the teachers because they all have both...the results...50/50. My personal thoughts...iPads. They are really simple and lend themselves to creating. It will take training but teachers and students CAN use them just as the use laptops. My one caution...our state is quickly moving towards computer based assessments and you need to makes sure that whatever you buy will support those types of requirements! ENJOY!

Pegeen Brosnan's picture

Practical reason for iPad or tablets: In my CROWDED classroom the laptops need to be located on the computer tables -- very concerned that they could be dropped or knocked off if moved to student desk,. No such worries with my iPads in their "destructo" cases . And when placed on the desk the iPads have a smaller foot print. less likely to be knocked or topple off desk. I am going 50/50 currently in a wireless class. I am the only one allowed to move the laptops for projects, but any kid can grab and move the iPad to their group location.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

We have this discussion in our district as well. My own kids who are on 504 plans for really awful handwriting, use iPads in school. What I like about them best is: LONG battery life, lightweight, and a form that can be used as a laptop with an external keyboard, or as a tool meant for sharing with others. Laptops by their nature, have a screen that divides us from others and makes collaboration in a classroom a bit more difficult, since only one person can really be in command at a time.
How to manage apps in a school setting can be an issue. But at least on a individual basis, my kids have great apps like audio note where they can record a class and take more outline notes, and then relisten to the lecture later when doing homework, or studying for a test, knowing that they have an accurate version of what the teacher actually said. Apps that help set reminders for homework, coordinate projects and the like are great, as well as the "helpers" like spanish apps that let kids practice skills with games while learning new vocab; flashcard apps for learning and testing new vocab; SAT prep apps, etc. The rick is figuring out which apps are worth the price- and sites like iear.org are great with doing education app reviews.

Tim's picture
High School EFL teacher, Chongqing, China

I've just joined this group, and I am eager to learn from other members. I am headed for Chongqing, China with LCD projector in tow to begin teaching TOEFL and Aural/Oral classes. Anyone out there teaching in China? Cheers.

Ashley's picture

In my opinion, Ipads woud be more reasourceful and useful than a laptop would be. Laptops take up a lot of space and can also take up an entire classroom. If Ipads were given to the students, it can easily fit in their desks or easily stored in a small cabinet in the classroom. Not only would it create more space, it can help interact with the students better with the activities and technology the Ipad has and the laptop does not.

Madison Snapp's picture

I think the ipad is definitely the better bet. They take up less space, they are way more interactive, and there are a lot more things you can use the ipad for. The students today are also accustomed to this type of technology, and will already know how to use it.

Holly Willis's picture
Holly Willis
Former Social Media Marketing Assistant at Edutopia

Hi Renee,

What a great question! Since this seems to be a hot topic lately, we asked our Twitter followers for their input. Here are some of the responses we got:

Jonathan: I prefer ipads for the simplicity of touch screens and mobility. However, I do use netbooks as well.

Lesley: Age plays a lot into it. Ipads are more user friendly for young ones. However, typing is a real-life skill students need to learn.

Sarah: In my classroom we use convertible PCs that can be used in tablet & laptop mode

Violeta: Depends on what you are going to teach. Although I must say, iPads are fantastic for ICT teaching in the Early Years.

I hope this helps! We'll post this question to Facebook as well to get some more responses.


Tony P. Thompson's picture

See my recent blog post on the subject here: tonyt.com


Since most school districts are not richly-funded, we need to talk budget, because the iPad is a premium-priced item.

I say the iPad is premium-priced because it is the most expensive tablet on the market. And just about everyone agrees on this bottom line: Apple stuff costs more. Industry experts will vigorously debate whether or not the 'Apple tax' is a good value, but few objective sources dispute its existence.

So purchasing iPads - especially for large scale initiatives - is spending big money on high-end gear that you might call luxury items.

You might call the iPad a luxury item because it is usually the owner's second or third device. I challenge you to find an iPad buyer who does not already own a computer or a smartphone. I then challenge you to find an iPad buyer who gave up their computer or smartphone after buying an iPad. Having a connected device? Essential. Having two or more? Luxury.

The computer remains the primary, go-to device in the world's workplaces and classrooms, and it likely will be for some time. When it's time to produce content, do you reach for a tablet, or do you scoot up to a computer? If you launched a new business today, what would you put on every employee's desk? What do we buy first for our college-bound kids?

The iPad is a brilliant, sophisticated, and elegant tablet designed for high mobility. But a thrifty school district needing the single most useful device for the greatest number of students at the best possible price would do well to consider other options.

Cindy in Fourth's picture
Cindy in Fourth
I'm a fourth grade teacher in California

Another question, for those with iPads, do you store them in any particular way to keep them more secure from theft? I read in the newspaper about some scary janitor hold-ups.

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