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Hardware Thread, i-Pad vs Laptop in Technical; Just wondering: if you were about to implement a wi-fi facility for your 6th Form, would you opt for i-Pads ...
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    Gibson335's Avatar
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    i-Pad vs Laptop

    Just wondering: if you were about to implement a wi-fi facility for your 6th Form, would you opt for i-Pads as the client device or laptops...and why?

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    Depends what the required uses of the device would be.
    Personal leased device ? School device ? Basic web browsing for research and document creation ? Video editing ? Graphics design ?

    Really depends on the requirements. I'd wait and test windows 8 tablets first personally if you have that luxuary

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    without any further qualification of the requirement , I would almost always opt for laptops and make sure they were locked down..

    Rob

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    Gibson335's Avatar
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    Hmm. Let's say the 'requirement' has yet to be established. Let's say SLT have had a lightbulb moment and believe providing a wi-fi facility (let's exclude BYOD at this point) is a good idea, but they just can't put their finger on why or what the expected outcome would be.

    I suppose I'm looking for initial gut reactions to the question...

    For what it's worth, my own initial reaction is to begin with a tried-and-trusted approach to devices - opt for laptops as we know the pros and cons. We know they'll do a good job - hard to think of something they won't do that our students are used to being able to do elsewhere in the school or, indeed, with the rest of the available 6th Form kit. However, I'm open to being persuaded otherwise if the argument in favour of i-Pads is a good one.

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    windows 8 is quite a good reason why you should have tablets instead of laptops. Thats Microsofts betting.

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    Gibson335 (3rd August 2012)

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    tmcd35's Avatar
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    IMHO laptops are nearly always a bad idea and usually serve to increase tech workload more than they improve teaching and learning. I've all but banned their use here. I tend to think, space allowing, an extra bookable ict suite is a better idea than a trolley of laptops, half of which won't work. Personal prejudice in a bought the t-shirt kind of way.

    I'd be tempted to rethink my position with netbooks if the supporting wifi infrastructure is clearly thought about in advance.

    As for iPads I can clearly see the benefits and can't see as many negatives when you look at one device per pupil and managed wifi is used. BYOD has problems in device parity, software support and technical support to be practice beyond basic web browsing, but a standard tablet ecosystem (iPads for all) I think could work wonders.

    Windows 8 might be interesting from a touchscreen netbooks point of view, but the apps won't be there for some time yet for it to compete with iPad. Standard windows apps are impossible to use on a tablet (we tried) you really need a keyboard and mouse for them.

    I think a low price 7" iPad will be the game change for edu, either that of a sub10" Win8 touchscreen netbooks. Either one, with a properly managed wifi infrastructure, has the potential to really transform teaching if deployed on a 1:1 ratio. From a tech support POV theres less to go wrong with an iPad compares to a netbook (think missing keys).
    Last edited by tmcd35; 3rd August 2012 at 04:14 AM.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    W8 x86 tablets with keyboards, best of both worlds and no stuipid nickel and dimeing for every little thing under the sun like you get with iPads. You can use some desktop apps on them but you do need to either have the keyboard attached or have the DPI at 125%. Being less rippoffish than the iPad they also come with USB ports so if you want you can just plug in a full sized keyboards and mice in. I've burnt DVDs off using an external drive with one, try doing that with an iPad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    IMHO laptops are nearly always a bad idea and usually serve to increase tech workload more than they improve teaching and learning.
    I agree but more due to available bandwidth. I'd rather have 100Mb per machine than 150Mb (at best) shared between lots.

    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    As for iPads I can clearly see the benefits and can't see as many negatives when you look at one device per pupil and managed wifi is used.
    What are the benefits? All I see with iPads is problems. No central control, bad for content creation, bad for maintainability, bad for keeping in use over a number of years, and on top give you neck ache or arm ache! Given the choice I'd definitely go for laptops, even given the above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meldrew View Post
    What are the benefits? All I see with iPads is problems. No central control, bad for content creation, bad for maintainability, bad for keeping in use over a number of years, and on top give you neck ache or arm ache! Given the choice I'd definitely go for laptops, even given the above.
    You sound like a (small) number of teachers around here

    My stock answer is - take just 5 minutes to have a good look around the app store and then come back and tell me you couldn't find even 1 app that would be helpful and you wouldn't benefit from having that 1 app available at any time without the need to book an ICT suite or laptop trolley?

    Now multiply that by 10 (the number of subject departments we have here) and already you have 10 unique apps. An example, for geography, might be something as simple as Google Earth. Not exactly ground breaking but can you imagine geography teachers having access to this 1 app whenever they needed it without the hassle of booking anything?

    Now think of PDF copies of text books that need replacing every other year because the paper versions get so worn and dogged. Then there is the Internet and Wikipedia, etc, as just general information resources. Writing an essay on Henry VIII, can't remember the name of his 5 wife? Just grab your iPad and look it up.

    Then of course there are uses such as homework diaries, etc.

    And what about content creation? iMovie? Garageband? iWorks? Photoshop? Just add a bluetooth or USB keyboard and away you go.

    Nobody should ever think that they will completely replace regular PC's. We will always need a number of desktops for more demanding content creation work, but do I really need 2-300 desktops for 800 pupils? Even our 4 main ICT suites (120 desktops) are probably too many. But 60 desktop for 800 pupils with their own tablet style device - sounds reasonable to me.

    Having tested all three ecosystems I think iPads have the edge on app availability (quality/diversity not number). If Win8 can match the iPads app store with an affordable touchscreen netbook it'd be a very easy sell. Google only need to concentrate on attracting some more quality apps to compete.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    My stock answer is - take just 5 minutes to have a good look around the app store and then come back and tell me you couldn't find even 1 app that would be helpful and you wouldn't benefit from having that 1 app available at any time without the need to book an ICT suite or laptop trolley?
    Agreed, there are very useful apps, but they generally cover a minute area of the syllabus. If you're giving every student an iPad, then you need to buy (taking your number of students) 800 copies of that app, at say a couple of quid equals £1600 for a tiny part of one subject area. Multiply that up and it'll cost a fortune.

    Then there's how you get the apps onto the 800 devices - with laptops, just use AD. iPads - try to get all 800 iPads recalled to the technicians office to get the apps installed at regular intervals when teachers decide they want another app installed, sounds like a nightmare to me.

    I do think tablets have a place, but only at home, not in schools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meldrew View Post
    Then there's how you get the apps onto the 800 devices - with laptops, just use AD. iPads - try to get all 800 iPads recalled to the technicians office to get the apps installed at regular intervals when teachers decide they want another app installed, sounds like a nightmare to me.
    There is central management applications out there. Things such as the Meraki Systems Manger. Although Apple still need to bring the Volume Licensing stuff to the Uk>

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    @Meldrew, this is very much what we are looking in to at the moment. The future is a long way off (if I can put it like that?). The ideal is to get to a 1:1 tablet ratio, but how we achieve this as to be thought through. In terms of app cost, you are quiet right but I'll counter it with two arguments - does every student need every app? Ans. probably not. Doe every app cost money? again no, in fact there are a large number of quality free apps that can make a real difference. The whole idea is that the apps do cover a minute area of the syllabus, it is wrong to think the students would be using these all the time in every lesson. More they would have access to these all the time in every lesson - a big difference.

    As for manageability - there are tools (both free and other whys) that will allow you to fully control the devices over the network including settings, restrictions and software installations (Mobile device management - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

    I think 1 device per pupil (laptop/tablet/desktop/whatever) is pretty much needed in this internet age to achieve proper student lead learning by self discovery (which is where I think education should be at). I think the tablet format is the only format that makes a 1:1 ratio practical. And, I think, for the time being (things are bound to change), Apple have the only ecosystem that is fully usable.

    The big question is around app purchases. How do you purchase multiple copies? Do you have to purchase 1 copy for each student that may ever need to access it? Or do you just need to purchase 1 copy for each student that needs to access it at the same time? eg. Do I need to buy 800 copies of iMovie, or only 130 copies because only Yr8's will be using it, or only 60 copies because Yr8's will use it on rotation half 1 term, half the next? These licensing rules need to be sorted out by Apple, et al. And from what I can gather (looking at app purchase state side) Apple at least are looking to answer these questions.

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    All those problems will be also depends on who owns the device, if a pupil owns the device then each pupil must buy as app (assuming this is how you do your 1:1 ratio) and there is nothing you can do. They would also all need apple accounts etc.

    If the school owns every device, then the problems become how long will 800 ipads last, how many per year will be lost/ broken, because the pupils won't look after them as well because they aren't theirs to have. But the cost saving comes because you can limit the number of apps needed.

    With that said, 800 iPads is a colossal amount of money, and I give them a life expectancy of 3 years, so if 3 years you need another colossal amount of money. If a computer per child was really the way to go, then every room would have enough PCs in so every pupil could use one in every lesson if they needed to but they don't.

    On a side note, I am also slightly concerned about whether writing on iPads for example is really a good idea (as in medically). Tablets have a place in schools, well most likely in most schools. Does every pupil need an iPad to learn or is there a benefit to every pupil having one? I don't think so, they become a distraction and a very expensive one.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    @tmcd35 - eep, lets have 1000 ipads with 100s of different apps on there according for student. It does not need to be an iPad, there are many platforms, some of which don't even trap you completely to the will of Apple. Thanks to Apple we naw have App stores that take 30% off the top for doing effectivly nothing (not stopping malware or anything) just censoring competing providers. This successful model has now spread and everything is more expencive. How about books, oh thats right they have agreements that force books to be more expencive on other platforms. I don't want to sign up to an ecosystem where their biggest and most consistent contribution to the industry has been rising prices across every platform and trapping content creators in extremely restrictive deals. To my mind it is the educational equivilent of conflict diamonds.

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    @SYNACK - lol! I never said it has to be iPad - I said that, IMHO, only Apple have pulled the pieces together to make the dream work at the moment. If Google, Amazon and/or Microsoft could attract the same level of quality content then I'm sure it'd be preferable than handing Apple an monopoly.

    I think in a school you need to settle on 1 platform, then managing the software of the network shouldn't be all that difficult, should it?

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