iPads or Chromebooks - Is that the right question?

A question we get asked a lot is “should we look at iPads or Chromebooks for use in our school?” While it seems like a valid one as lots of schools are interested in getting the best equipment for their money, in my opinion that question is kind of like asking should I buy a car or a boat?

Let me explain…

iPads are excellent tools for content creation, especially media related content. The ability to record a video, edit it with a green screen app, add in a new background, make it into a coherent film and even compose your own music all from one device is still a mind blowing concept, and that’s just one example. The one place it does fall down in my opinion is data handling with apps such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. While it can physically do the task, the apps are available on iOS, it just doesn’t work as well as it does with a keyboard and mouse on a laptop or desktop OS.

Chromebooks on the other hand are excellent at data handling. Creating documents or spreadsheets from scratch and editing them is as easy as it ever was on a desktop PC or Mac. They also have a windowed operating system meaning you multitask more easily and are a gateway to the internet and all of its research options available to pupils. Where a Chromebook falters though is with media creation and editing. A pupil isn't going to walk around the yard with a Chromebook trying to record video from the built in webcam and even if they do, the editing options are no where near on a par with what is available for iPad.

It comes down to what is the right tool for the job. Do you want to drive on land? buy a car, if you want to go on water buy a boat.

So what is the right question?

Let’s say a school is in the position of having lost the room that was their IT Suite as they needed to turn it into a full time classroom. Or, their bank of Windows laptops are 8 years old, have 5 minutes battery life and take 15 minutes to turn on and need replacing. If you want to replace what you had and the focus for that equipment needs to be on data handling and doing work that really needs a physical keyboard, Chromebooks could be perfect for you.

If you have money for new kit but your laptops are only a few years old and you want to do more interactive work or use them for music, video, oracy or content creation purposes or any of the over 1 million apps on the app store then iPads sound like the solution for you.

So if you really want to ask the question of should I buy device A or device B consider this: Should I buy Windows PCs or Chromebooks? They are the most similar device in terms of functionality and in my opinion, most of the time you should buy Chromebooks.

But maybe the question you should ask is:

What do I want to achieve with the new devices I buy?

Then you’re buying the best technology for the job and not whatever is hot right now or what another school is using. Have a vision for your pupils and let the technology help you get there. 

You wouldn’t buy a VW Polo, strap a sail to it and push it into a lake if the task you wanted to achieve was getting to the other side of that lake.

If this sounds like a question you have asked yourself, get in touch and let us help you with your technology journey in school.