Monday, May 12, 2014

A Device Neutral Classroom

On Friday, I had the opportunity to view the five devices our district is considering in our Next Generation Classroom program set to kick off this week. These devices were vetted by a high school student tablet committee and were previewed by administrators and teachers. Three of the devices were tablets, one a Chromebook, and one a hybrid tablet/laptop. The team of highly technical high school students overwhelming chose the hybrid because it had the features of a laptop, but it could look like a tablet.

However, when compared to our laptop model, the hybrid was no comparison. With an Atom processor, an over $1K price tag, and only 2GB of RAM, the hybrid failed in comparison to the laptop that had an i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a less than $1K price tag. Additionally, with the hybrid, there was the added component of the device breaking (the tablet locked into a keyboard, but could easily become a distraction and a breaking point).

So, then, what makes the hybrid more appealing to users? Is it solely the fact that it can become a tablet or that it looks sleeker? And, if so, is that reason enough to purchase them for schools? The weight of the laptop was the same as the hybrid.

Personally, I don't use the tablet. I utilize my Android phone, my Chromebook, and my laptop. But, have not found the need for a tablet. Even with a keyboard, most tablets (non-hybrid) don't have the laptop infrastructure so are merely larger phones. But, if your phone is too small for a situation, would the next step just be to use a laptop or a Chromebook rather than a larger screened-phone?

Discussion open - what is the need for a tablet or hybrid in K-12 classrooms over a laptop or a Chromebook?

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