This survey was sent out mostly to technologically savvy educators, and they overwhelmingly said a laptop computer was the way to go. Officially, it was 70% laptop, 30% tablet, 0% desktop. Sorry, desktop makers. :-(
Now, I challenge you to ask a bunch of 8th, 9th, or 10th graders what they want. I would not be surprised if the results were exactly flip-flopped: 70% tablet, 30% laptop. Why? There may be a lot of reasons, but the reality is – It really doesn’t matter. Our students want and will be getting tablets for graduation. The real question is – what are we going to do about it?
These really cool looking tablets don’t necessarily fit into our game plan. But not only should they fit, we will be doing a disservice to our students if we don’t make them work. We need to figure out how to make them work for us when we are geared toward a laptop world. Is this going to be a problem?
Suppose a parent comes to you with the "tablet or laptop" question. What will you tell them? If we look at all of the advantages and disadvantages of both, which one comes out on top?
Which one is easier to carry all day?
Which will last longer without needing to be recharged?
Both can type papers, do Internet research, email assignments, etc. , so which has the advantage? Certainly a keyboard is necessary for any lengthy papers, but will a virtual keyboard suffice for taking notes in school? Remember to put yourself in the shoes (or fingers) of the student here. Does the “coolness factor” or whatever other reason for getting a tablet outweigh the disadvantage of clumsy typing?
When my daughter asked about getting a tablet, I had the same initial response as most of you: A laptop would definitely be better (and cheaper). But, as I researched it more, I have come to the conclusion that a tablet might be better. The bottom line for me came down to one question: Which one will be used more? Getting a tool that a student WANTS to use versus one they HAVE to use can make a huge difference.
So, teachers be prepared. When I come to you, I am not going to be asking which one to get. I am going to be asking you how my daughter will be using her new tablet in your class. What will you say?
PS I know most tablets don’t have DVD players, some don’t do flash, and there are other reasons why laptops might be better. But, the point is tablets are here to stay in some form or another. We have to adapt to this new environment just the same as we adapted to laptops when they were the newest tech on the block.
I will be tweeting the results, so if you are interested click to follow me.
Dave's Affordable Design is in the Technology Education and Consulting business. Read more about Dave here.