Choosing Between iPads and Chromebooks

Is education's honeymoon with the iPad over? According to a recent article by the Hechinger Report, it certainly might be. The article, Are iPads or Chromebooks better for schools?, reports on a comparative pilot conducted at the Hillsborough Schools in New Jersey. During the 2012–2013 school year, the district issued approximately 200 iPads to one group of students and an equivalent number of Intel-based Acer c720p Chromebooks to another. 

After receiving teacher and student feedback from the 2012–2013 school year, Hillsborough sold its iPads and opted to distribute 4,600 Chromebooks to students this school year. It's not that the iPad-using teachers were unhappy with their devices; one teacher interviewed for the article said that the iPad pilot had turned her into a digital-education advocate. But, says the Hechinger reporter, "now that she’s spent a full year using the new [Chromebook] device—a pared-down laptop that stores files on the Internet—she agrees with the decision."

Some of the reasons cited for picking Chromebooks over iPads:

  • The Chromebook was perceived as a better work tool, while the students saw the the iPad as more of a gaming/entertainment device.
  • IT staff reported that the Chromebooks were easier to manage.
  • The Chromebook's keyboard was seen as an added advantage — especially since the Common Core assessments will require a keyboard.
  • The Google Apps environment supported by the Chromebooks make them particularly good tools for collaboration.

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