Sunday, October 30, 2011

iPad vs. Chromebook Education Showdown

It's a conversation I've been having quite a bit lately. Which way do we go for a one-to-one? It probably won't surprise those of you who know me well which way I'm going to go on this issue. The iPad is a BEAUTIFUL device for consumers. The display is stunning. The apps are cool! I love the iPad for my personal and even business use, but for the classroom, it leaves a lot to be desired.
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The most powerful actions for education are CREATION and COLLABORATION, and the device that wins in this war, hands down, is the Chromebook. With a Chromebook and Google Apps for education, K-12 students have a chance to learn everything. I'm not talking about learning how to use a computer, I'm talking about this kinda thing:
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Technology integration is not about learning to use a computer,
it's about using a computer to learn.

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You see, when you use the iPad, you're dependent on someone else to create the structure of the environment through an app. Let's not even talk about the cost of those apps, let's just focus on the educational integrity. Games in education can be powerful, there's no doubt, but they need to be certain types of games, big and flexible, or targeted and exact. No one would advocate teaching math only with flash-cards, for example, but that type of game is far and away the most common kind for learning in the app store. Plus, each time you want to add a new app, someone is going to have to type in that password and potentially, pay a fee. Bummer. That's not the kind of instantaneous flexible environment I'm looking for.
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Meanwhile, the Google Chromebook's learning software is only as limited as the web. Students can create anything you or they can imagine to show what they know, organize their thoughts, and they can also collaborate--another super powerful learning tool. On my Google Chrome Desktop you will see some of the education apps I'm referring to:
For example, Google Docs, Prezi, Aviary, Lovely Charts, and Diigo. There are hundreds more, like Angry Birds! To get a feel for what I'm talking about here, browse the Chrome Web Store here. But, don't be confused, Chromebooks operate on the web and are never limited to what you can add in an app store.
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Of course, Apple has an education web store too, but unlimited, flexible, ever-evolving true creation tools like Prezi.com and Google Docs are missing in the very genes of the Apple device.  Also missing is the ability to seamlessly and easily collaborate using that device. The fact is, Apple can't compete for the creation of an educational revolution. The Chromebook can, and it stands to be a true game-changer.
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If you or your school needs more information, feel free to contact me or come see us at the Region 6 Education Service Center where we're making sure we're ready to help you before, during, and after your decision about what device to choose.  We'll be there to make sure your students and teachers get the most out of whatever hardware and software is available to them. If you're reading this shortly after publication, don't miss our Google Leadership Academy November 8th where we'll be featuring Chromebooks and Google Apps.
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