Wednesday, May 15, 2013

iPads

The district where I work piloted a 1:1 iPad program starting in the 7th grade.  The initiative will grow next year to include grades eight and nine.  Recently, there have been some questions as to whether we should continue with iPads or switch to Chromebooks.  I believe the push for Chromebooks stems from the fact that they are a cheaper alternative and that the integrated keyboard is better suited for PARCC exams.  In short, brief discussions have emerged comparing the two options.

In the course of one conversation a colleague had the following to say:

I've seen how kids, first-hand, unkindly treat our the netbooks, simply because they don't value them.  Put iPads in their hands and it's a different story.  The kids cherish the iPads because they cherish the experience that the device gives them.  The tactile nature, the immersive experience, the ergonomics of the thing...none of it can be replicated on anything resembling a laptop.  User experience is #1 and there's no competition here in my book.  

I was reminded of this comment last night during one of my daughter's choral concert.  During the concert parents and relatives were filming and taking pictures of the performance with either an iPad or smartphone.  After the performance we used our iPhones to take pictures of my daughter and her friends.  It was on our way for post-performance ice cream at the local scoop shop where I connected my colleague's commentary about iPads and the popular device of choice for archiving the choral concert.  I thought about why would we engage in another discussion that draws a separation between school and life outside of school.

I understand that there is a budget and our district is like any other in that a range of needs have to be addressed.  Maintaining diverse programs and continuing to be innovative is a challenge under the current fiscal parameters.  However, so many of us, and in particular our students, live in a connected world where we have the freedom to take pictures, shoot video and create content.  In my mind moving to Chromebooks would establish a wall between how we observe, archive, reflect and create in and out of school. We should foster an organic flow between school and not school.  Leveraging the potential of iPads to the fullest equally addresses any concerns about mandated testing and the desire for our students to see a connection between life in and outside of the classroom.