Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Don't Hate iPads, but...

Last night I re-Tweeted the following from Gary StagerI took my iPad away for the weekend instead of my Macbook Pro and it's not ready to replace the laptop. #notreadyforprimetime. As usually happens when I Tweet anything mildly negative about iPads, some people came out to defend iPads in classrooms. Before we go any farther you should know that I don't hate iPads, but I just don't think they're a good purchase for schools to make them the sole device for a 1:1 program. If you already have a 1:1 program in place then go for the iPad purchase as a secondary device. 

Last spring I wrote that I didn't think iPads should be purchased as the primary devices for 1:1 programs. Since then I have attended conferences and facilitated workshops (combined total of 18 if I counted correctly) in which I saw people trying to use their iPads as replacements for laptops. Of course, I didn't just sit back and watch, I asked questions of the people using their iPads (I've also talked to random strangers in airport terminals about their iPads. Hey, there's only so much a person can do at Newark International or wherever I happen to be delayed).  What I've learned in the past fourteen months is that the iPad is not capable of replacing a laptop for creative productivity. It could be done in most cases, but not without finding apps to replace some of the functionality of some otherwise routine operations. And in a few cases in the workshops I facilitated participants were left out of activities unless they purchased apps. For example, when we were creating Wolfram Alpha widgets for our blogs in one workshop the person who had only brought an iPad couldn't do it. 

Aside from the time and costs associated with getting all of the right apps to replace the creative functionality of a laptop, my concern is this that Gary said well in 140 characters: @rmbyrneSimple - keychains don't sync, needed passwords, iMovie would not import .mov file. Just sloppy, not a hardware limitation. 

The iPad does have a place in classrooms. That place for now is as a secondary device, not as a primary device for 1:1 programs.

To be continued...