Thursday, July 25, 2013

Which Device?

The debate over which device schools are choosing is a topic hotly debated.  With more and more schools promoting BYOD, this may become obsolete in the not-so-distance future.  We still need to provide for equal opportunities and technology is no different, especially for those technical, specific projects (I am thinking high-end video editing, etc).

Being an avid apple user, I lean towards apple's easy to use operating systems, which to me 'make sense', however in the past couple of months have had a little play with some other devices.  It seems to me that each of these devices are quite different and would be used in different ways - what is the right tool for the job?

Apple's iPad (around NZD$500)
With the release of the first iPad back in 2010, this multitouch device really changed the way we looked at devices in education.  Finally, school's could afford a device which had multi-uses (camera, apps, word processing...), meaning we could buy one device that had multiple uses.
- Intuitive use
- Content (e.g. videos, audio recordings) can be easily created and upload/ embed to various sites.
- Thousands of Apps to enhance learning.
- Use with Apple TV to use airplay to share content on iPad with a greater audience.
- Mobile version of websites means limited functionality (e.g. embedding video's on websites can be difficult).
- Updating/ loading apps to multiple iPads can be problematic (speak to anyone who has used Apple Configurator!)
- Best to have laptops/ desktops available for higher end tasks (e.g. video post-production, coding, embedding creations to websites).

Google Chromebook (around NZD$359)
We were lucky enough to trial a Chromebook for a couple of weeks. I like the concept of all your Google Apps making up your desktop (e.g. docs, mail...) and that it is an easy device to share as you log-in to your own environment with your google account.  I made it immediately available for our students, placing it with the other MacBook Air's.  Students quickly figured out how to make user's and logged in with their GAFE accounts.
- Log-in to your own personalised environment.
- Easy to use.
- No maintenance: Updates are automatic and free (no need to sit for hours updating each device).
- Some Google Apps can be made available offline (mail, drive, calendar, etc) - so you don't need an internet connection to work.
- Get Apps via the Chrome store.
- Great for internet-based work.I was a

Lenovo ThinkPad (around NZD$1,200)
This product is meant to rival the Microsoft Surface. When I initially pulled it out of the box,  I was a little perplexed (to say the least) with the operating system - Microsoft8, but once I figured out a few basics (thanks to Google), I set-up the wireless and was away.  I like the concept of having a very mobile device, but with full web capabilities (uses full version of sites, not mobile sites). Having the touch screen, keyboard and stylus means you can flick between interactions depending on the task.  I like the concept of the all-in-one, but am still somehow not convinced.  Apart from the larger price tag, the ThinkPad feels a bit flimsy to use and not sure how it would go in the hands of younger people.

It's exciting to see companies pushing the boundaries and trying to give users the best experience possible.  For us, I still love the experience Apple products give with our students using a combination of iPads and MacBook Air's/ iMac's to suit their desired outcomes.