Our district is considering a 1:1 initiative and we are trying to decide what type of device we should use.  I think we would experience fewer limitations with laptops, but I'm certain our students would prefer tablets.  Anyone have a strong opinion either way? 

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I think tablet are more good.These highly portable computing devices give you full control of the screen, features and applications. By using your finger or a stylus, you can directly touch the screen to make gaming more interactive, and the hands-on approach provides a more tactile experience than a mouse for drawing and illustrating. Compared to laptop computers, these products are small. Most tablets offer anywhere from a 7-inch to a 10-inch display screen and weigh less than 1 pound. You can store all your music, capture photos or videos, video chat and even read books on their built-in eReaders.

I'm on my districts "iPad" committee - the quotes are because we recently decided that we should got BYOT to meet our goal of 1:1.  Below is a link to a blog post indicating why we made the decision. 

Steve

Waking Up From My iPad Dream | A Teacher's Coda http://bit.ly/wGL52M

I think you should approach it from the other direction...

... what do you want the students to do/accomplish with the 1:1 program?

Define a scope of use, products to be produced, end-result goals, etc and then look to which device best supports those goals.

Our teachers are 1:1 with iPads (basically every staff member has an iPad - haven't gone to students yet) because we wanted to do paperless assessments and have teachers do all their gradebook, running records, etc digitally as well as provide faster/easier access to shared resources, email, collaborative tools and so on. The iPad was the most natural form-factor for that.

If my principal were to want to extend our classroom writing emphasis to the digital realm with a 1:1 I might lean more toward a Chromebook as opposed to an iPad. 

Basically, let your goals dictate the device, don't let the device dictate your goals.

That is excellent advice. It may also be wise to allow students to use their own devices if they are more comfortable using them.

My experience with laptops has been mixed. They are very mobile,so students can use them just about anywhere in the school and beyond (which can lead to problems,also). Full keyboards, trackpads and hi-res screens allow both various inputs and output of information.

My greatest frustration with laptops are the batteries. Too often the previous user has nearly drained the battery and, although has plugged it in for charging there hasn't been time for a full charge making for a very frustrating class for the next user and the teacher. My iPad has never died! However, the touch keyboard can slow things down. Overall I lean towards the iPad. (I haven't any experience with other tablets)

I agree with some of the other replies here- it really has to come back to purpose.  What will your students be doing with the devices?  If it is a 1:1 schoolwide program this question may be hard to answer, or it might involve too many purposes, but before you know how students will use them you really can't decide on the best device.

I wrote about this here: http://djainslietech.com/2011/04/12/are-tablets-the-next-educationa...

and tried to create a chart that would help make the decision.  I admit that it is hard to put all aspects into a chart, so there are some limitations to this chart but it might help you.

Good luck!

Tablets are smaller, lighter and can go longer between battery charges. Storage space is minimal and in the case of iPads it isn't upgradable. The batteries along with many other parts are not replaceable. The operating systems and hardware are very new, a bit klunky and have lots of "holes" in them. It'll be a while before they mature into reliable devices. Also because they're new and fashionable, they're outrageously overpriced for what they can do (High perceived value = high profit margins and vendors just love that!). Then there's privacy issues with things like Carrier IQ: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrier_IQ It'd be foolish to buy in $10,000's of hardware and be told by the courts or education board that you can't use it.

Laptops are more powerful, have a greater range of tried and tested software available (especially for education), they have more inputs and outputs, i.e. keyboard, mouse, USB that can power peripherals such as scanners and printers, HDMI, projector, LAN, CD/DVD, SD cards, PCMI. They're all repairable and upgradable. Windows, for all its sins, is the best supported operating system in the world today which means almost everything just works. They're bigger and heavier, take longer to start up (especially with Windows) and have typically short battery lives.

For a smaller option, netbooks are also worth considering. Despite what the tech specs look like on paper, Atom CPUs are actually more powerful than even multi-core ARM tablets (It doesn't matter how many cores it's got if your software only uses one of them and Atom CPUs do hyperthreading), and with Atom, you can run fully-fledged desktop operating systems like Windows and Linux. It depends on what you want to do though.

At a similar price to tablets, ultrabooks are starting to come down in price. Macbook Air is the most famous but exceedingly expensive. Now Asus, Acer, et al are getting involved with PCs and bringing the prices down to under $700 at retail. They're very fast, very powerful, very thin and light laptops.

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