I will be starting my third year of working in a 1:1 school. This, of course, means that for every 1 student their will be one device. I admit that I was spoiled in one of my previous schools in that each student (and teacher) were given MacBook Airs. These are extremely powerful and interactive machines that I was fortunately "in charge of" by being the "technology project leader" of the school. Since my time at that school, I have always heard rumblings from teachers, parents, administrators, etc. about how great it would be to have an iPad in the classroom for each student. Having had an iPad of some sort since its inception, I seemed to always wonder if those same people had actually used an iPad. Sure the Apple commercials look great and while the iPad is great for some things, I do not see much use for it in a classroom. Being confined to one window, a limited processor, limited robust programs, and limited user options are just some of the many problems I see with the iPad in the classroom.

I see personal computers becoming more cloud-based, more browser-based, and less about the form factor. By the way, an iPad is a personal computer. In fact, more accurately, it's called a personal tablet computer. The form factor limitations of the iPad are created by Apple's genius design. Ironic. They want a small, long lasting battery-charged device that is designed for consumption of information, entertainment, etc. This is what the iPad is. This leaves little room for creating on the iPad. Sure, you can make the case for certain instances in which you can create with the iPad, but what about the big things like creating a Google Doc. If you have ever used the iPad app for Google Docs, then you know how arduous it is to use. This goes for any cloud-based application. For example, the entire Google suite (Google Sheets, Docs, Slides, Picasa, etc.) on the iPad is a pain to use. The screen on the iPad is impressive, but it is effectively halved anytime you want to input or type anything. This isn't exactly the best way to create things.

Some might say that you can create video and audio on iPads.
That's true that you can, but you can do the same things with a Google Chromebook with the added benefits that it will be cloud-based and collaborative. Web apps such as Soundation, Audiotool, Audiosauna, and UJAM offer great possibilities for creating audio/music pieces. I prefer UJAM personally. Web apps such as WeVideo offers a great alternative to Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. By the way... all of these apps are FREE! Add this to the fact that Chromebooks are a cheaper alternative than iPad, are easier to control, backup, and replace, it is hard to make a case for why Chromebooks are not a great (if not, best) choice for a 1:1 device.

What about plug and play USB probes used in many science courses?
I've heard this many times from science teachers. Unfortunately, a choice for a device should not be based on the needs of one subject. While I agree that the plug and play opportunities with Chromebooks are limited at the moment, the amount of money spent on laptops that can run these probes can be better spent on buying class sets of plug and play laptops that "belong" to the science department.

What about textbooks being replaced by iPads?
Chromebooks can be used for online textbooks just as well as iPads. Furthermore, is this really a good thing? Is textbook teaching something we should be discussing when talking about devices? While many people still use textbooks in their classrooms, the shift to 21st century learning has little room for textbooks. With Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, so much of the focus is on the understanding of principles, using practices (mathematical or the "Science and Engineering Practices"), and discovery of concepts. Textbooks do not offer much support in this type of teaching/learning.

I've tried to discuss some of the common comments that I have heard. With the abundance of free apps and developer tools, Chromebooks go well beyond the above stated. Furthermore, with thousands of apps to choose from in the Chrome Web Store plus more and more being added each day, Google seems to making a run for being a signature device in classrooms (much like TI did with graphing calculators).

An article by the Atlantic further discusses how some schools are making the switch from iPads to other laptops-based devices.

I'd love to hear the thoughts of others on the best device for a 1:1 classroom.
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