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Which device?

By Derek Wenmoth Comments (13)

The question of which device to support or promote is getting lots of airplay in various forums at the moment. This recent post from Forbes magazine reports Six Reasons Educators Say They Are Choosing Chromebooks Over iPads, Netbooks And PCs. I know some schools in New Zealand are promoting the use of Chromebooks at present, while others are strongly supporting iPads and more recently the Microsoft Surface is appearing as supporters get excited over Windows8 etc. I'd be interested to hear feedback from schools in this forum of what successes and benefits they've had with any of the above, both technically and pedagogically. 


  • Andrew de Wit

    One of the things I think is a strength of our school BYOD envionment is that students move capably from one type of device to others. We have Androids, IPads and Laptops. That my Year 4 students can make choices to which device works best for a particular activity (especially when working cooperatively) amazes me!

    Yes it is not as easy at times as they don't all share have common apps but again why be restricted by that. We do use a common tool - Google Apps and the Drive but even there, my students will go to a class pc to work on a spreadsheet as it is easier, then back to the IPad to use Pic Collage for a science experiment etc.

    Shouldn't we be moving on from "what device" and allowing students to find that for themselves? I think we play it safe with going with a particular device.

  • Derek Wenmoth

    Hi Andrew - completely agree that we need to be thinking well beyond the 'which device' question from a learner perspective, and hopefully we'll soon be at a place where it won't matter. I take your point about the students in your school, and agree with the versatility of learners based on my observations in many other schools.

    But in the short term the question has some relevance from a school perspective when they are (a) being asked by parents to provide some quidance on a purchase and/or (b) when they have to consider the issues involved in supporting the devices that are brought to school - whether that be the connections to the nework or data interoperability etc. 

    Thus my post - I was just curious to see what sorts of differentiating characteristics there are (if any) between the different devices that might influence the choices parents are advised to make?

  • Allanah King

    Wading in here...

    I think it all depends on the purpose as Andrew says. If learners were going to want the internet and Google services in particular then I think the Chromebook would be just the ticket- with it's extensions and apps it can be a powerful device. It still needs managing for mass deployment. For example if using Google Apps for Education I think a teacher dashboard like Hapara would be essential. You would need the management console to push out changes/updates to all Chromebooks.

    iPads, in the hands of children, can be powerful tools for learning as well, especially in an inclusive context and with younger learners. Agreed the Google experience on an iPad is not as treamlined as on a Chromebook/laptop but there are so many more things that you can do on an iPad that don't need to be web based.

    In my ideal world I would have a hub of devices accessible whenever we wanted- it would have iPads, iPod Touches, Chromebooks (not netbooks), some Mac Books, camera and some felt tips pens, colouring pencils, crayons and paintbrushes.

    And the learners could bring their own gear if they wanted to.

    We just go and get the right tool for the right job- depending what the task is.

    There isn't a one device to rule them all (Lord of the Rings reference).

    That's my mental model of an ideal device rich classroom.

  • Stephen Lethbridge

    And my two cents worth... Wink

    Who are we as schools to dictate where parents live in the cloud and therefore which device children have? I agree with Derek, parents are looking to schools to provide guidance but this will pass as devices become more mainstream and entwined in everyone's daily life.

    If we recommend a device and the child then moves to another school that doesn't support that device then there is a resentment and mental model of 'those schools cant get their act together' ... this then prompts calls from parents 'why cant they all settle on 1 device and lever bulk purchasing' ... Well I as a parent want choice.

    We were all set to roll out iPads leased by parents... Luckily we didn't. I thought about my situation. If my children head off to high school with their iPads and the school says we don't use those we use this laptop I would be annoyed. So hence we have a BYOB (Browser) approach. Doesn't matter what it is as long as you can get to the net. We have iPads all versions, iPad minis, iPod touches, MS Surfaces, netbooks, laptops (Mac/PC), android tablets (various brands), someone even brought a Nintendo DS (soon abandoned it as in his words - it was rubbish for learning). This does cause network issues but great wireless and gig fibre backbone along with 100Mbps to the gate fibre help. Proxies are an issue and will be going in the near future replaced with a watchgaurd. Children using BYOB from year 4 - 8. High uptake at year 7&8, increasing uptake at year 6.

    As a preference I would be a iOS user (I am a mac lover though). Interactive White Elephants (I mean Boards) are redundant with AppleTV in room. Get Google and Apple on the one device plus I can video etc... however our kids say that they choose the technology that is fit for purpose and this is what we want. I have seen multiple devices per child - iPod touch to capture video/audio to upload to learning journal for reflection and then a laptop for more software intensive stuff like music creation and video editing etc. Isn't that what we want for kids - the ability to choose the right tool for the right job? That is why we need multi-platform schools with various devices. If there is just one then you try to do everything on it thus compromising the learning/outcome/product?

    The one device to rule them all is my stock standard line - The thinking teacher using the technology of the day to cause learning. In 5 years we will all be saying - I cant believe we used those quaint iPads weren't they clunky!

    Anyway I ramble... Always happy to chat F2F (uLearn13 perhaps?)



  • Annemarie Hyde

    We are at the stage where we have kept our old PCs going, have some great new(ish) PCs, elderly laptops on wheels and three laptop classes. I have leased sets of laptops for these which the students in those classes lease. One set are netbooks, and for us, I won't go there again as they don't have the same ability for things like creating video.

    We have installed a great wireless system this year.  Now we are having discussions about what to do as our graveyard of elderly machines grows.

    If we can get a grant we'll buy more PCs as they are proving hardier and we have to buy, not lease. Our excess is not great enough to fix machines or replace them if stolen, and the PCs are proving the sturdiest. 

    We will look at our budget and hopefully be able to lease two sets of laptops. ( You get to send these away for someone else to fix or replace! Our Year 7 and 8s seem to prefer these.

    Two teachers have ipads and I'd love to have the pot of gold to also say, here's one or more to anyone who wants one - and is prepared to experiment. We also have three ipod touches which have thus far ben used for things like video and timelapse. Our experience is showing that like Derek, Allanah and Stephen, it's not one tool.

    Our principal and board aren't prepared to go down the BYOD road yet. Part of that is to do with the inequities they perceive - we draw from both poles of the decile system.  The other is that not enough of our teachers are pepared to tinker themselves so it is to do with maintenance and assistance too.

    I read these discussions with great interest and look forward to what others have to say.


  • Amy McCauley

    Just wrote a blog post about a couple of different devices I have trailled over the past couple of months.  It's more of a reminder of my thoughts, but feel free to haev a read at what I thought about some of those devices.


  • Rachel Whalley


    I don't think this forum or website is the place for you to push your wares. This site is intended as a professional development community for teachers and educators - are you a teacher or educator or a vendor? 

    How does your comments relate to the Terms of this site regarding Commercial activity?

  • Gerard Macmanus

    Sorry Gareth, please read the Terms of the vln /terms you are talking about offering a service.

    Commercial Activity

    Users may mention their education related commercial affiliations and services on profile pages, but should refrain from advertising their services in the activity stream or in replies to discussion topics and blog posts. Blatant and repeated advertising of services will be treated as SPAM and user accounts will be disabled.

  • Stephen Lethbridge

    @Rachel +1, Like, retweet, pin


    Just looked at the 'Edutainment' yes a new term but a very old concept - I remember Seseme Street.

    Some things of note from me after watching the advert on the link that you posted in this discussion...

    1. If I had a teacher ask for 'educational games that are more engaging' then I would suggest that they have got the wrong end of the stick and point them in the direction of Minecraft.

    2. If I had a teacher say 'I struggle to find applications that fit with the curriculum' I would suggest that they have missed the point.

    3. I want teachers who are discerning about the digital tools they use, who collaborate and curate their own resource preferences based upon what they are teaching - to get them all in one place in the form of an app store of digital content is strange, as...

    We already have a number of app stores on the net from significantly bigger players. Apple, Google, Windows

    It isn't about the app!

    We already have an amazing place where teachers can access quality digital content - it is called the internet and if teachers can't use it to find what they want and need then they shouldn't be teaching our kids.

    There is a thriving educulture on twitter with a wealth of information and advice for any and all teachers who want it.

    Seriously paying $84 for a digital app about what is for lunch - is that for real or a mock up?

    Then there is this mysterious 'something that fits in a pocket' that we will need...

    So in directing us to that site, where it asks for an email address if you are intersted is, as Rachel says 'pushing your wares'. As you are suggesting that if people sign up then this non-profit (don't get me started on that jargon) will provide a service therefore you are drumming up support by posting that link.

    Commercial Activity

    Users may mention their education related commercial affiliations and services on profile pages, but should refrain from advertising their services in the activity stream or in replies to discussion topics and blog posts. Blatant and repeated advertising of services will be treated as SPAM and user accounts will be disabled.

    It is a 1:1 device thread - If an apple employee promoted an apple device here it would have met with a similar response. I think Rachel was right in posting her concern. Happy for others to put me in my place though if they think I am too off base...

    Note: all questions here are rhetorical and need not be answered.

  • Rebbecca Sweeney

    Be good to get back to the conversation here! I admire Gareth's intentions and nonprofit approach but I think he has a way to go in order to get to know schools better and to understand that schools are very good at driving, owning and leading their own learning...approach is important :)

    I'm really interested in this conversation and have learned so much from what people have shared. I'm very interested in Dorothy Burt chipping in on this conversation from her perspective and approach at Pt England - and interested in other models. Any chance we can share this thread with a few more of our colleagues doing different things?



  • dorothyjburt

    Looks like I've been tagged by Becc :)

    Ok, so in response Derek's simple question; we have put extensive research into our choice of device for our students and are about to begin the process again for 2014.

    We began with AUSU eee using Open Source software (custom built for our schools by volunteers).  We have been happy with the device from 2010-2012, and the OS. The device had to change as it seemed that netbooks were coming to an end, and reliance on volunteers for an OS is a complex circumstance.

    So for 2013 our testing process identified the Chromebook and we bought 700 Samsung. Blog post here

    We have been very happy with our choice and the positive impact on learning and teaching outcomes.

    A wee comment for BYOD enthusiasts:

    Let's try to remember the slice of NZ who have nothing to bring to school when we give presentations about BYOD.  It is one thing to extol BYOD when speaking to a homogeneous group of educators for whom this is an attainable option.  But in an eclectic conference setting this can be a tad depressing to Decile 1-3 educators in the room :)  Or to quote Allanah out of context, "One size does not fit all"

  • Stephen Lethbridge


    I agree wholeheartedly! All my comments are from my current context which (I continually emphasise at presentations) is Decile 10. There is no one size fits all and we must have an approach that meets the community needs. Our situation is typical Higher Decile - social mobilty and school choice upon entry to high school (you know success means moving out! - *headshake!). We contribute to many many high schools all with different platforms and device opitions so therefore we have our approach.

    If I were in a different context I would be looking at what needs are in the community. I applaud and am in awe of the work you and Russell are doing. I worry that schools in similar contexts look at what you are doing and think they can replicate it and roll it out easily - we both know this takes a lot of time and device use is a result of pedagogical change rather than handing out devices.

    The importance of device use lay in the 24/7 option. Schools that provide class sets and then lock them away at 3pm are missing the point. Kids need them at home - they also need to have decent connection at home too.

    From my point of view the current digital divide is whether you have a connected device or not. The new divide will be the number of devices that you have.

    Have you had any cluster students leave the school/cluster and continue the lease of the device whilst using it in their new place?

  • Dave Winter

    We have a variety of devices at our school like others have mentioned. My opinion about what to do in this space has varied over time. The impact on teaching and learning is at the heart of the question.

    We are happy to make a recommendation and offer support for a device each year to our parents and at the same time allow them some choice in BYOD. Smaller organisations would possibly support diversity with more ease?

    With 300 students using 1 to 1. My recommendation for 2014 in our school is likely to be a chromebook. (Nothing but web). This decision is a communities one.

    These students are year 7-8 and we are a google apps school using teacher dashboard. The support for this environment is significant in iOS but limited enough to make this still a deal breaker for the collaboration we see as helping learners.

    There are going to be some downsides but start time, learning integration, management and battery life put these as our first choice for the year 7-8 cohort.

    Other devices will be needed to support the chromebooks. 

    What place do companion devices have in peoples BYOD plans?