Teachers Are Second-Guessing the Use of iPads in the Classroom

We try to limit our children's screen time, but we can't argue that there are some advantages to letting them use technological devices — especially when it comes to their education. But in the tablet battle, which one gets an A+ in the classroom? That's the question several schools have tried to answer for the past four years.

As early as 2010, schools started allowing iPads in the classroom. They were used in lieu of textbooks and poster-board presentations, and some teachers even incorporated apps into their lesson plans. Still, something was missing. While many schools decided to cancel their iPad programs, New Jersey's Hillsborough Middle School decided to test other tablets. During the 2012-2013 school years, 200 students were given iPads while another 200 were given Chromebooks. Through a series of in-class experiments, administrators found that the Chromebook was a more affective tool for teaching and learning. When providing feedback, students said they saw the iPad as a "fun," game-oriented tool, while the Chromebook was more work oriented. Students also said the Chromebook's keyboard made it easier for them to take notes and tests, especially given the new Common Core standards. Even teachers were pleasantly surprised by Chromebooks.

"At the end of the year, I was upset that we didn't get the iPads," seventh-grade science teacher Larissa McCann tells the Atlantic. "But as soon as I got the Chromebook and the kids started using it, I saw, 'OK, this is definitely much more useful.'" In addition to its educational perks, the Chromebook has some financial benefits. At $279, it is almost $100 cheaper than the iPad and more than $500 cheaper than the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which other schools have used for their tablet programs.

So will other schools follow Hillsborough and take on the Chromebook? Well, that has yet to be determined. With technology changing monthly, if not daily, it's impossible to determine if the top tablet will still hold that tittle when the next school session starts. Until then, we have to ask ourselves what we want these tools to do for our children. And whichever one will help them achieve these goals is the one we should get.