Image Source:

“Teachers’ experience so far, because there aren’t instructionally validated applications, is that cellphones and the like are only a distraction,” says Robert Spielvogel, the chief technology officer and director of applied research and innovation at the Newton, Mass.-based Education Development Center (Source: Education Week). What a silly perspective. The fact is, schools need to revamp their curriculum efforts because technology and schools are like oil and water unless changes are made. In spite of that disconnect (e.g. creativity vs high stakes testing prep), technology is finding its way into the classroom in the form of mobile devices.

The iPad Mini has come out, I’ve held one in my hands, and “Wow!” Yes, I’m impressed by the light, easy to handle iPad Mini. The only drawback is, as you might have guessed, the price tag. Still, the real competition for the iPad in schools isn’t the Google Nexus 7 Android tablet, a wonderful device that represents less of a leap for school district technical support than the iPads which require a Mac for Apple Configurator, iBook Author, and a whole bunch of management nightmare, are intended to be used by only one person at a time (unlike the multi-user Nexus 7).

The Google Nexus 7 is the first real alternative to the iPad, providing schools with the features we need, at a price we can afford. . .I am just very pleased to see a powerful, low cost, alternative for schools in the Google Nexus 7. (Source: AppsUserGroup)

For the techies, the Nexus 7 is a no-brainer device. For the non-techies, the iPad Mini is THE device for the classroom. Having pretty much used it as a laptop replacement, a blogging tool, a video/audio creation and editing tool, as well as copious content consumption, I find myself only missing a keyboard (which goes away as soon as my Zagg keyboard gets turned on and connects via bluetooth). 

In a blog entry sure to raise people’s hackles, entitled 5 Reasons Why the iPad will Stay the King of the Classroom, Adam makes these points:

  1. It’s not a laptop. Your students will create work that not only wasn’t possible before their innovative use of the technology, but that you as their teacher had never even thought of.”
    My Response: It’s not a laptop, but it sure can do much of what we imagine a laptop doing with some serious improvements. Let’s not limit the iPad…it’s more than a laptop.
  2.  Creative workflow.  the iPad’s strength lies in the fact that there are always multiple ways of doing things and the setup of the iOS is such as that it encourages you to think about problem-solving in a creative but also remarkably logical way. Students will invariably find their own way around this device and it is highly likely that it will prove to be a different and perhaps more effective path than the one you chose.”
    My Response: I can’t disagree with this point. The question, is your school an environment where students can find their own way, where individual choice is allowed? and, if it’s not, how do you get there?
  3. Apple ecosystem.The simplicity of how Apple devices talk to each other and work together is a remarkable thing.”
    My Response: Apple’s ability to make things work well together is great, but it also means that we have pay for every upgrade, every change…lightning in a bottle costs money, but brings benefits.
His strongest points are the first two, but you’ll want to read the final 2 as well. The third point–Apple Ecosystem–makes me worry, given the point of being locked into their way of doing things. It presumes that Apple will temper godlike omnipotence and omniscience with beneficience (is that a word? In the Apple/Microsoft environment, probably not).

  • Dan McGuire

    Dan McGuire I think 2+ Chromebooks for the price of every iPad casts some doubt on this claim.

One of the key attributes of the Chromebook is that there’s not the same need to go 1:1, in that they are so ideally suited for sharing. We’ve found that the quick start means students will pop into a class to borrow one for a quick task, something that never happened with traditional laptops, as startup time was too slow. Source: David McGuire via Google+

I bet the Nexus 7 would be just as exciting, but to be honest, the horse race isn’t between Android tablets and iOS devices. The race is between Chromebooks and iOS, while the Nexus 7 is just being considered, in spite of these efforts:

  • Nexus 7 Classroom: “A mini one-to-one tablet project recently powered up at Penn Manor High School. Students in Mrs. Rottmund and Mrs. Sheerer’s Family and Consumer Science have begun using Google’s Nexus 7 in support of financial literacy, nutrition and child development instruction.”

Compare these two Minecraft stories…one on an iPad, the other with Chromebook. Here’s the one that won, IMHO:

“We created a game for the classical civilization portion of World History,” Bousquet said. “We did our game on Greek Mythology and used Minecraft to build the world. Most of the world was built on the iPad.”
Bousquet said this was a good way to learn about the Greek culture in a visual manner.
“I learned a lot of how through cultural diffusion, the Greeks used the Babylonian Gardens to build their own,” he said.

In spite of this, there are many of us that are willing to embrace Chromebooks, iPads, etc. that involve new workflows, as evidenced by  my own experiences and those like many are writing as Chromebooks find their way into educator’s hands:

The Chromebook does what I want. Yes I might have to plan my work a little differently or figure out a work-around to get something done, but nothing I am doing is unreasonable or actually causes all that much extra work or time. It is more that it is a different way of doing something than I did in the past. (Source: One Foot in Reality)

The simple point is that educators, human beings, can be creative no matter what the device. But can they be creative in the schools they find themselves in now?

children, even very young children, especially while attending a school with a play-based curriculum, don’t need to be told what to do. Practicing the skills of independent exploration, thinking for oneself, making one’s own decisions, and operating autonomously in the world is what we’re here to do. Commands from adults prevent that from happening by highjacking the kids’ thought process, replacing their agenda with ours. No, the only way to practice these independent thinking skills is through free play, and as a 5-year-old child once succinctly put it, “Play is what you do when people stop telling you what to do.” (Source: TeacherToms Blog)

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-3445626-5’]); _gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘’]); _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]); (function() { var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true; ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘’; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();