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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

1 to 1 Device ?

1 to 1 Device ?

Related Tags: Classroom Technology
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18 Replies 635 Views

Our middle school is in the process of selecting a device for 1 to 1 computing. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions as to the most useful device?
Thank you in advance!

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Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Corinne,
This is a question that is sure to generate a lot of discussion. I can only tell you what I think - and I should mention that I am an Apple Distinguished Educator first, in the interests of full disclosure.

To my mind, I would consider going with the iPad. We've found it to be affordable, flexible and powerful. The real deal-maker for us was the fact that we could use iTunes U and iBooks Author to create course to publish to our students. There is also a wealth of specifically educational apps available for the iPad.

Admittedly, this does mean locking yourself into the Apple ecosystem, but I think that's a small price to pay.


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

We're doing a Bring Your Own technology solution, providing guidance as to recommended device specs here in our school district. That said, the next district over is doing iPads, and I love them- my own kids have used iPads in place of laptops for their "school day" computer for the past four years, since they became available.
From a device standpoint, the iPad is light, easy to use, has fantastic battery life, and can be used as an internet terminal as well as a multimedia creation device, since you can shoot and edit video/podcasts with garageband and imovie. I'm not sure the same multimedia capabilities are available or as easy to use on other tablets. The biggest classroom advantage over typical laptops is the instant on feature and better battery life options.
Chromebooks are cheap, battery life is ok but less than ipads. It's basically an internet terminal, and you have to do everything online, where ipads can do things offline as well. They are also instant on/7 second startup, so they have a big advantage over typical netbooks/laptops.
For kids and one to one, you have to consider whether the kids are taking the device home or if its school use only. if it's a "classroom set", how will kids make sure they get the same device the next day, with their work saved on it, etc? What do you need the device to do? What projects are you doing? Is one standard option the only option, or is a mix of devices also good, and also gives kids a way to learn other platforms at the same time?
As much as I have a personal preference, please let the education and what you want to do drive the decision, not the device. that will ensure you are meeting all the educational goals, and the device just becomes a tool or enabler of the learning, just like paper, pencils and a whiteboard.

Anthony Amitrano's picture
Anthony Amitrano
Asst Principal in the Mendon-Upton RSD, Massachusetts, USA.

I am leading a 1:1 iPad initiative in a grades 5-8 middle school. This is our first year implementing the program and we also piloted in 7th grade for the past two school years. I am a big Apple fan, love the iPad and all devices iOS, and overall we are happy with the decision to use iPads for the 1:1 initiative. The iPad is easy to use, there are regular updates, tons of apps to use in the classroom, and it allows the teachers to pick and choose what they want to use and feel comfortable using with the students.

I have been thinking, lately, of the future if tablets and tech usage in general. Apple has definitely been ahead of the curve in terms of tablets, but Android is doing well, and Microsoft is getting in there also. I have been curious at the success of initiatives that have been using android tablets or even a combination of Chromebooks and tablets. For example, for basically the same price of a new iPad, you can get a Chromebook and Nexus 7. This would give users the convenience of a tablet, and the ability to use a more traditional computer as well. There are huge differences in the capabilities of the google drive on the iPad compared to the web version, and it would be nice to be able to use each for various reasons and situations. Plus, both being google devices, syncing among them would be a piece of cake.

Has anyone else had experience with this? Any successes or drawbacks?

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

Hi Keith!

In our district, we're trying cross platform adoption, to both save costs and make sure everyone is comfortable on any device they encounter. basically, since most of the programs and apps being used are online, the device is largely an Internet access port unless we're talking about podcast/video production, where the ease of use of Apple products is far above the rest.
Again, I think it has to be About the learning first, and the tech second. Moreover, why teach kids something like Microsoft office when google docs or pages or anything else is available- with so much online, learning individual programs because we're prepping them for a future office job goes away, because who knows what that office job will really be anymore? they need to know how to write, type, and compose, and the software is less of an issue than ever before.

(Just for example, I have a college freshman and a high school sophomore. My oldest had to take Microsoft office as a course entering high school, now my youngest- and they are only three years apart- had a mandatory course on social networking.). We have to look atthe base skills we want kids to have and make whatever tech ( and preferably a variety) serve that purpose rather than let any device drive the curriculum.

William Potash's picture

The strongest thing I'd caution against is getting your school system tangled up in the proprietary, expensive Apple ecosystem. People add iPads under the premise that they're more intuitive; that may be true, but they provide considerably MORE functionality than is necessary or wise in a K-12 environment. You're paying for features that you're not only going to not use, but even want! If you must use a tablet, I'd recommend the Nexus 7 due to its low cost, small size, and extreme customization. Laptops, particularly Google's new Chromebook, seem like the better solution in most cases.

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

Hi William-

I like the Chromebooks, but we ran into a problem here with the new state testing regime requiring downloaded software the Chromebooks couldn't handle. While the state may change their app and online testing requirements, we saw that as a potential problem for us.

Beth Holland's picture
Beth Holland
Instructor & Communications Coordinator at EdTechTeacher
Blogger 2014

Hi Corrine,

Rather than beginning with the device, I'd ask these questions:

1. WHY? - why 1:1? what do you want learning to look like once you have a 1:1 environment?

2. What will best support your students' learning? - do you have a diverse learning population that needs accessibility supports or the opportunity for enrichment?

3. What do you want your students to DO? - are you using Google Apps for Education and do you want them to collaborate more efficiently and effectively? Is your curriculum rooted in more traditional projects such as research papers and presentations? Is it important that students be able to create and publish multimedia projects? There aren't wrong answers to any of these questions, but they may drive you from iPad to Chromebook to laptop.

4. What is the strategic vision? - where does the school want to be in 3 or 5 years and what device might help to get there? How does the device fit with the desired pedagogical framework?

I don't think this gives you any answers, but maybe it will help you make a decision. Shawn McCusker did a wonderful webinar about the promise of 1:1 last week. Maybe it will help - http://youtu.be/hyIrFmDvZj0

Good luck!

linda's picture
Life science teacher in northern California

I have used both iPad and chromebook. Chromebooks work better with google docs and are better for word processing. IPads are more fun, and versatile as far as the apps you can use. I love the kids being able to take pictures and create videos and presentations on the iPad. And I loved them having their books on it too. But using google docs is really lousy from the iPad. So it definitely depends on how you plan to use the devices.

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