As a school leader in a 1:1 iPad district, I am always interested in the perspectives of those in other 1:1 educational settings. Whether they use iPads, Chromebooks or any other web-enabled device, there is something that can be learned by paying attention to the conversations in these environments. Two of the more thoughtful pieces on the topic which were recently written come from Tim Holt and Joshua Kim.
The Device Debate: Creating vs. Consuming
Tim, a Director of Instructional Technology from El Paso, Texas, gives a strong account of how iPad can be used as a tool for creation. He clearly details some of the concrete ways that the often-defended tablet can be used to produce videos, music, drawings, and works of art that move well beyond consumption. Kim, on the other hand, offers a unique perspective as an educator who has recently transitioned from supporting an iPad environment to using a Chromebook as his primary device. In his post, 3 Reasons Why Chromebook Beats iPad in 1:1 Programs, Kim gives the following three reasons for the superiority of the Chromebook:
- Chromebooks are for creating, and iPads are for consuming
- The App vs the Web
- The Google Ecosystem for Collaboration
The most viable of these three reasons from Kim is the final one, the collaborative tools that are inherent in the Google ecosystem can be accessed seamlessly on a Chromebook. While iOS device access to Google tools continues to become less and less of an issue, schools that want to focus primarily on Google tools should look no further than Chromebooks. However, I would like to challenge Kim’s first two points. As he notes in his discussion around his first point, the consumption versus creation debate with iPads and Chromebooks has been made countless times by those on both sides of this discussion.
Apps vs. Web
While I agree partially with his point that everyone he knows uses a laptop as a complementary device, I think that there is a line that we can draw here in regards to the age of the learner. From my experience, our younger students are less and less concerned about a laptop and much more comfortable with a tablet as their primary device. In fact “The App vs the Web” conversation is not as simple as purported. The point here implies that iPad is rendered useless without an extensive arsenal of apps. This implication falls short in a world where companies are doing everything they can to offer a web-based mobile experience. If the point here is that we need to encourage end-users to not become “app-dependent,” then I agree wholeheartedly, but the notion that iPad is not a multi-faceted device in the absence of apps is false.
This also goes for the idea that iPad is not valuable without internet access. Of course, it needs to be noted that the Google Chrome environment is also one that offers an endless list of extensions and apps. Personally, I have no strong emotion tied to one device or another. In fact, as a learner, I get a great deal of satisfaction by figuring out how I can get my daily tasks done on any device that is placed before me. In fact, my main takeaway from most of these debates regarding one device or another is that those of us in schools need to steer clear of strapping on the blinders that can come along with one platform or another. We need to ensure environments that are adaptable and allow learners to accomplish their tasks with whatever devices are available. For all intensive purposes, devices are now basically disposables after two to three years. It is time to dispose of the debate on devices as well.