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Why Some Schools Are Selling All Their iPads

Why Some Schools Are Selling All Their iPads The Atlantic


Hillsborough took a different approach. During the 2012–2013 school year, the district executed a comparative pilot, giving iPads to 200 kids and Chromebook laptops to an almost equal number. As other schools rushed into programs they would later scrap, Hillsborough took a more cautious approach, hedging its bets and asking educators: How can we get this right?


After receiving teacher and student feedback from the 2012–2013 school year, Hillsborough sold its iPads and distributed 4,600 Chromebooks in the fall of 2013. The students in Harmsen’s class had been on Hillsborough’s iPad pilot team, and Harmstead admits she was a little disappointed when the district chose to go with Chromebooks. She said being on the pilot iPad team transformed her classroom approach after 24 years of teaching and made her a digital-education advocate. But now that she’s spent a full year using the new device—a pared-down laptop that stores files on the Internet—she agrees with the decision.

Other iPad pilot teachers came to see the benefits of laptop capabilities, too. “At the end of the year, I was upset that we didn’t get the iPads,” said seventh-grade science teacher Larissa McCann. “But as soon as I got the Chromebook and the kids started using it, I saw, ‘Okay, this is definitely much more useful.’ ”

While nobody hated the iPad, by any means, the iPad was edged out by some key feedback, said Joel Handler, Hillsborough’s director of technology. Students saw the iPad as a “fun” gaming environment, while the Chromebook was perceived as a place to “get to work.” And as much as students liked to annotate and read on the iPad, the Chromebook's keyboard was a greater perk — especially since the new Common Core online testing will require a keyboard.

Another important finding came from the technology support department: It was far easier to manage almost 200 Chromebooks than the same number of iPads. Since all the Chromebook files live in an online “cloud,” students could be up and running in seconds on a new device if their machine broke. And apps could be pushed to all of the devices with just a few mouse clicks.

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That's fascinating because it's not an Apples to Apples comparison. 

How cool would it be if Chromebooks were nicknamed Oranges?

"oranges" would have been way more fun!

It doesn't need to be an apples to apples comparison, I think. I'm working in a school that doesn't really have equal access to tech--we have a couple labs forming that I won't use because it's really a pain traipsing kids all over the school and some need more time than others. 

We're pouring money into tech mostly because computers are now required for high-stakes testing, but what would really be effective is BYOD--letting students use phones and their own devices--people talk about kids who don't have the ability... that's fine. We share.  

When going 1:1, though, the best thing is being able to easily access everything online. I think, because Google is the collaboration tool of choice, I might choose the Chromebook, too. I love my iPad, but everyone already uses Google to collaborate, so it'd be a no-brainer transition for me. 

iPad is great for games, but it's true: When you have a Chromebook you know it's for working.

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