iPad vs Chromebook

So you are looking to invest in new technology in your school. You have done some research and there seems to be a lot of discussion around iPad and a similar amount around Chromebook. So which do you go for?
This is something that comes up quite often for schools as the move to more digital learning becomes ever more needed due to the essential skills needed in the workplace.

So which one is it? iPad or Chromebook?

Well it really all depends on what you are after as they are not really comparable devices, they offer similar functions but achieve it in different ways.
Let’s take a look at some of the things schools consider when making an investment.

This is usually the start point for most decisions, though it really shouldn’t lead the discussion. If you are investing then cost is obviously a factor but shouldn’t be the main focus.
A Chromebook can be purchased for around £150, it is cheap, no arguing with that, provided the school signs up to Google Suite for Education then you will also get free access to a suite of productivity and creativity tools and unlimited storage for all of the students.
An iPad will cost you around £300, more expensive than a Chromebook but will run all the same programmes that google offer on a Chromebook through apps. Again all free.
So in general cost terms the Chromebook is cheaper but, a cheap Chromebook will not hold value and as it is cheaper, will not be as robust as an iPad due to cheaper build quality.

Both devices will provide access to the internet and storage, both have access to app stores with plenty of apps that can extend learning in the classroom. The iPad though will still work as a functional device even when not connected to the internet. Lots of built in tools will work without the internet and with connectivity tools like Airdrop, you can still transfer documents etc. The Chromebook requires the internet to function so means a Wi-fi signal is needed for it to be effectively used. It could be argued that the iPad is actually a Chromebook as it provides the same access, but also provides further functionality.

The Chromebook comes in the form of a laptop, this provides students with a full physical keyboard to allow typing and a trackpad to replicate the mouse function. The iPad, out of the box, comes with a keyboard that comes on the screen when you need to type, as it is not a physical keyboard it has functionality differences to the Chromebook and will also take up part of the screen when being used. That being said, the iPad is a more mobile tool, it can be used anywhere to capture learning with the Sandra, add in voice to specific programmes or capture sounds from the environment. The Chromebook is fundamentally a laptop so does not really allow this type of portable learning opportunity.

So just looking at these three areas the choice is clearly not iPad vs Chromebook. You first need to think about purpose. If you want a tool that can provide learners with a tool to access the internet in the classroom, to create and document learning and develop keyboard skills then a Chromebook will work. If you want something that can allow learning to take place anywhere, to use as a device to create, take images, record sounds and allow learners new ways to share knowledge then the iPad will provide this.

It could be that a mixture of tools will meet the needs, but with the development of artificial intelligence and voice activated assistants, are keyboard skills still that relevant? Can curriculum and assessment opportunities be enhanced by looking at new ways to learn and share learning?

If you are in the position that new technologies are being considered, look beyond the obvious cost and really focus on what the device is going to provide learners.

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