Chromebooks or iPads: What Devices Should I Buy For My School?

I’m often asked my opinion on what devices one should buy.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

That said, my standard answer to “Chromebooks or iPads?” is BOTH.

The trend for some time, at least in the elementary schools that I have experience with, was to buy oodles of iPads. I’ve seen that trend shift lately to buying oodles of Chromebooks. The trend I would like to see happening is balance.

Both devices have their strengths.

Chromebooks work particularly well when using web based applications, such as the Google Suite of tools (drive, docs, slides, etc.) and related extensions. They’re low-cost, easy to deploy and manage, and are easily shared among multiple students. They’re much better for anything requiring a great deal of typing and the ability to use a touchpad or mouse is helpful for anything requiring precise clicking/dragging/etc. Some Chromebooks are touchscreen models that give them additional functionality that somewhat bridges the gap between a laptop and a tablet.

iPads have extraordinary potential when it comes to using them as a creation tool. It’s so quick and easy to capture and edit photos, videos, audio recordings, etc., and then post them somewhere. In an educational setting, this is so great for documenting learning – especially for enabling multiple ways to represent thinking as we too often rely on written work. In the past, writing was the only way to reliably “collect” evidence of thinking. Now, with apps like Explain Everything, Padlet, SeeSaw, etc., it’s so easy to gather and organize thinking in a variety of formats. I also have to give a shoutout to the extensive accessibility capabilities of iPads and the ease of switching between multiple languages when writing.

Don’t get me wrong – I know a lot of the features mentioned for one device *can* be done on the other device. Workflow and ease makes a difference, though. Some tasks are just more easily done on one style of device vs the other. Minimizing frustration and maximizing efficiency matters in a classroom.

If I had to pick just one type of device to have  – I couldn’t. In my classroom last year (I don’t have my own this year), I also had Windows PCs, Macs, and accessories like cameras. I would always rather a variety of tech than a ton of any one thing. Certain tools are better for certain jobs and I think the ability to know the strengths and weaknesses of them all and make the best selection for the goal at hand is a great skill for students to have.

 

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