Monday, December 3, 2012

7 Reasons iPads Rule?

English: iPads offer a variety of software
English: iPads offer a variety of software (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some impressive facts from on the impact of iPads:
  • Over 100 million sold 
  • iPad sales topped all other PC Manufacturers in the second quarter of 2012
  • 94 percent of Fortune 500 companies use iPads "in an official capacity."
Despite these mind-blowing numbers, I am always interested in the discussion of what device is best in an educational setting.  Audrey Watters wrote a post this week asking, "Why Tablets?" that got me thinking about this a bit more, especially given the fact that we currently have over 1,200 iPads in Burlington, a number that will soon be over 2,000 as we deploy iPads at the middle school level.

Audrey wrote the following about iPads:
 I was struck once again by the abundance of hype over tablets. I confess, I just can't do the work I need to do on an iPad, but I don't want to suggest that that means they're useless for others. It does make me wonder about what I'm missing by being a skeptic, as well as what students are missing when we give them tablets and not (my preference) laptops.
While I love the iPad myself, I too find myself utilizing my laptop first in many cases.  I feel quite guilty sometimes by the fact that I can pull out my MacBook Air to accomplish many tasks while students only have an iPad to access.   While I have tried at certain points to put away my laptop and get through my day with the same device that our students have, I have not been successful in doing this for more than a day.

Thinking back to our 1:1 planning meetings, I remember our main issues were cost, battery-life, and ease of use.   We looked at laptops and minis for a while and then the iPad hit the market it quickly moved to the top of the list (since we could not afford MacBooks for everyone).  Of I wondered if we were just buying the shiny new toy that the novelty would wear off quickly.

While we certainly did buy the shiny new toy and yes the novelty has warn off a bit, our satisfaction with our choice has lessened little.  The main reason is that for even the most techno-phobic user the iPad could not be easier to utilize.  There is no complicated operating system to deal with or software to learn. The ease-of-use allows us to focus our time and energy on the numerous resources that we now have at our fingertips. Instead of training on the device, we are spending our time referencing our learning goals and pulling in from the plethora of resources that allow us to reach them in new and engaging ways.

In regard to the list of reasons that iPads rules, I really don't have a list of reasons.  Honestly, it's up to learners to find out which tools/resources work best for them.  Make your own list! It's a lot more fun than using someone else's! 

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  1. Would you have considered a Google Chromebook if they had existed?

    No complicated operating system.
    No software to learn.
    Opens right to a browser.
    Lots of apps in the Play app store (not Apple App Store big though).
    Super easy to use and trouble shoot.

    Plus, it has a keyboard which I think is why you haven't been able to truly replace your daily device with an iPad.

    Just my two cents. I do enjoy reading this blog and the insights you have.

    1. Thanks for the comment. We are big fans of the chrome book as well, especially since we are a Google Apps for Education school district! We certainly may be in a different place if the chromebooks had been around at the time we made our final choice. Having said this, I really hope we can get to the point where we allow learners to make informed choices as to what device would work best for them.

  2. I have to echo Knaus' comments on the Chromebook, and your thoughts on the iPad. I find myself frustrated routinely by what my iPad can't do that a Chromebook or other laptop can do in seconds. But, one size doesn't fit all! Just need to adopt and maintain the point of view that there are good uses for all different types of tech, and put them in their prime locations.


  3. I'd wager that your difficulty in accomplishing tasks with your iPad stems from your skepticism and lack of curiousity about the many apps and accessories availble to peform many tasks you erroneously believe can be performed more easily with a MacBook.

    I have a MacBook Pro, a Windows Thinkpad, and a 64GB wi-fi iPad 3 with a Zaggfolio keyboard. Along with Dropbox and a carefully selected package of apps, I regularly run my business remotely, largely with my iPad. I generate large documents, do research, run presentations, edit RAW images and HD videos. I do this on a footprint that fits neatly on a middle-seat tray table. runs 10-12 hours on a charge, and is easily transported everywhere.

    I find there are people who take the trouble to embrace the potential of the iPad, and learn how to master its potential, and those who cling, as I once did, heavier alternatives. iOS is the future, especially as iOS and OSX come closer to a seamless single OS. What is disturbing is that you are an administrator in an educational system. Not a good example for your students.

    1. Hi Mel,

      Are you local? I would love to talk to you more about your relevant real world experience! I am sure that we would all benefit from speaking to someone who is able to integrate so many tools so seamlessly!

      In regards to my skepticism, I did have a huge part in the decision to go with iPads and I believe that we have come along way in moving staff and students in embracing the potential of the iPad. I encourage you to check out some of the tabs at the top of the blog that share some of our efforts.

      The scariest thing for you to find out is that I am actually pretty progressive in regards to school administrators using technology (which I admit is not saying a lot). In any event, I am sincere about wanting to connect if you have a few minutes!

  4. I think an iPad is a wonderful tool and given the funding to do it, I would have one, a keyboard, and a slew of apps.

    However, educationally, I'll never be able to outfit a classroom that way.

    I can much more easily outfit a classroom at $250 a kid. That gives them a device, a keyboard, camera and 6 hours of battery.

    In addition, using Goggle Apps and a bunch of other tools (Edmodo, Socrative, Jeopardy Labs), I don't have ongoing expenses for apps.

    I think cost is a huge concern. If someone is willing to shell out $20,000 for ipads and accessories, great. It's more likely that I'll be able to get $7500 for a class set of Chormebooks.

    I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts and ideas. Good discussion is hard to come by.

  5. iPad is a tough gadget indeed, though there are still limitations behind it. What we usually see from advertisements are the usual things that we can also get from other smartphones. My first concern with it is that it doesn't have expandable memory, making me fit all the apps that I need in its fixed memory. But I still like iPad. It's one of the greatest projects ever made.-Ally