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Middle School Computer Lessons; IPads vs. Netbooks

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I was recently part of a discussion of what was better for students, IPads or Netbooks. Keep in mind this discussion was in the context of having these devices owned by a school as opposed to individual students.

Having used both in my own classroom, I can see the good and the bad in either device. First, the IPad: The vision that I see initially, is of a class of students…the shocked look and excitement that they would be using them in the classroom. What most don’t think about is all the set up that would go into  that moment.

  1. First, the school district purchases 25 Ipads about $15,000
  2. Next, the Tech person has to configure each one to work in the network
  3. Then, the school tresurer approves funds for software and hands over a school credit card to create an Itunes account.
  4. Then, that Tech person logs in each ipad to itunes and individually purchases and loads software

I forgot to mention, that you need a teacher or a team with a vision of how these Ipads will be used in the curriculum. This is really the most vital step.

Lets look at Netbooks:

  • Cost is much less
  • Software can be imaged from and purchased through school site licenses.
  • Netbooks have keyboards and are easy to use with all the software that your students are already accustomed to.

I can see the potential with an Ipad. For example; take a biology class, teams of 3 students per pad; a lesson on identifying birds; take the ipads outside and use an Audubon Society app to ID as many species of birds as possible. That could be really cool! However, I could buy 25 bird books for a fraction of the cost… So it using an IPad really worth it? Maybe, but I am going to pass for now.

If given the choice between netbooks and Ipads, I choose Netbooks for my school.

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