Chromebooks vs iPads

Chromebooks have become the “It” device of educational technology.  The new kings of the classroom.  It wasn’t that long ago that a revolutionary device from Apple wore that same crown.  It seemed liked every teacher, student and administrator wanted an iPad.  So what happened?  How did Chromebooks overtake iPads as the device of choice in the classroom?  There are five keys to this Google revolution:

  • Management:  Google designed an easy to use, IT friendly management console for Chromebooks.   iPads require a third party management tool and a lot of hard work.  Simply trying to get the same app installed on classroom set of iPads can easily take an hour.  The same task can be accomplished via the Google console in minutes with a just a few clicks.  Managing device settings individually, by groups, or district wide is a breeze.
    • Educational Impact:  When teaching with technology, consistency is key.  As a teacher, you want to know that every device has the apps installed and ready for your lesson.  Chromebooks provide that assurance.  All a teacher needs to do is let their technology department know ahead of time what needs to be installed.  IT and Google Apps for Education will take care of the rest and the teacher can focus his.her attention on the lesson at hand.  iPad management often requires the staff member to work with each individual device to ensure the apps are installed correctly.   Even those using third party utilities often find themselves working with a few units that didn’t response as intended.
  • Updates:  Both devices have an instant on feel to them.  You can access the Internet within just a few seconds on either device.  Where the Chromebook excels is how it automatically handles updates.  The device updates are frequent, small in size, and are downloaded in the background without any user interaction.  Updates are applied when the machine is restarted, although because it boots so quickly, the user doesn’t even know an update has occurred.  iPads require the update to be downloaded assuming there is enough required space. iOS updates have been known to take upwards of 30 minutes to apply and can drastically affect the performance of older iPads.  Skipping the updates is not an option as many apps require the latest version of the OS to function correctly.
    • Educational Impact:  Again, the focus here is on consistency for teachers.  Chromebooks come off the cart or out of their carrying case ready to go.  There’s no fear that half the class will need to install a large, time consuming update before they can begin working.
  • Storage: Chromebooks store their files, settings, and user profile information online via the cloud.  A user can quickly pick up a Chromebook they have never used before, sign in, and have instant access to all their applications, settings, and files.  That process doesn’t really work on an iPad unless you wipe it clean and restore it from backup.
    • Educational Impact:  This is on the the key features of the Chromebook.  Imagine a teacher using a cart of Chromebooks for a week long research project.  Students can grab any device off the cart, sign in, and start working.  There’s no need to make sure a student uses the same machine they used the day before to access their presentation.  Additionally, if one is dropped and it breaks, none of the student’s work is lost since the data is stored in the cloud.  The student can sign on to another available Chromebook and pick up where they left off while the broken one is repaired.
  • Collaboration:  Google integrated their Google Apps for Education platform within the Chrome OS.  Students are able to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with ease right of of the box.  The design of Google Apps makes collaborating a piece of cake.  With just a few clicks, students can share a file with classmates and begin collaborating in real time.   iPads do not natively ship with any like this.  Student could choose to sign into Google on their iPad and collaborate via the web, but the lack of a traditional keyboard can make that challenging.
    • Educational Impact:  Google Apps for Education is reinventing the way teachers and students create traditional documents, spreadsheets and presentation.  The creative design of Google Apps allows students to collaborate in class together as well as outside of school on the same document.  Teachers can watch in real time as students work together to complete an assignment.  They can also use revision history to see the work done by individual students on a group task.
  • Price:  The one seems obvious, but it needs to be mentioned.  Most Chromebooks range anywhere from $150 to $350 depending on the features and manufacturer.  An iPad Air 2 starts at $499 and can quickly move up to $699. Its easy to see why a school district would choose a device that costs half as much on average than the competition.
    • Educational Impact:  The district can get more devices for their money.  In a time when schools are facing constant budget cuts, getting more devices is a big win.

There are countless other reasons why Chromebooks have surpassed iPads in the classroom.  Tell us your favorite things about the Chromebook in the comments below.