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Which Device is Best for My School?

Jennifer Freeman

Do your own researching on the Web about tablet and mobile devices in education. If your school needed to buy new gear today, would you recommend the iPad or similar? Why or why not? Introduction: Which device is best for my school? I work at an elementary school and teach second grade. The one thing that I keep noticing while researching this topic is that very few people think of second graders as capable little surfers of the Internet. I had my doubts before seeing them in action last year (my first year teaching second graders). They can do almost anything, but educators have to be prepared to keep them engaged and learning so that they dont fall into harms way because of their curiosity and boldness. With Common Core State Standards being implemented in 20142015, our district must prepare for students in grades 3-6 to have the ability to complete the required online state assessments. Schools and districts are facing the need to hurriedly make a decision about which

devices will best meet their needs and be sturdy and efficient enough for state testing and every day use and abuse by elementary students. Whatever we purchase needs to be the same for the entire school to aid with maintenance! Having so many different devices in my classroom has been difficult for the students because everything is slightly different and works at different speeds. This is also difficult for me because I am often running around the room helping students with technology challenges while trying to work with a group. Finally, it is difficult for the district, which is willing to work on some devices and not others and sometimes are not able to get some devices working. Replacing devices with only one or two types of technology would save the technology team, teachers, and district time, which means it could also save money. Criteria Used The criteria that I looked for when choosing the right device, adapted from Edudemic: Ease of use for students and teachers, including the ability to

1. Create ebooks

2. Share screens with peers and teachers 3. Create video 4. Create presentations 5. Print work 6. Use cloud-based storage and sharing of files 7. Use annotation of different mediums 8. Make notes in different mediums 9. Facilitate independent learning with or without teacher supervision

Ideally, the device would allow a teacher to supervise the work of young students.

Review of Devices

iPads iPads are one of my favorite choices because they are versatile, incredibly user-friendly, and educational applications are being developed for them at lightning speed. There are currently more than 20,000 apps for education compatible with the iPad. They can be connected to our Promethean Boards (all 2-6th grade teachers have

them), but cannot use Adobe Flash players, which Ive read can be corrected by downloading something called Photon Flash Video Player or using Skyfire to browse. iPads are expensive, but the cost may be worth it when you consider how quickly tablets seem to be outdated. Apple offers Volume Vouchers for apps and Volume Purchase pricing for schools purchasing 20 or more devices at a time, so the price could be comparable to other high-quality tablets. An iPads battery lasts about 9:33 hours and an iPad2 battery lasts 10:26 hours, which could mean the devices could last more than one day before needing to be recharged, which is great for classroom use. Apple claims that iPads were created with education in mind. iPad Mini The new iPad mini, to be released in 2014 may be promising. It has a 9.4 inch retina display, and will be less expensive than the iPad, but able to do everything that the iPad does. The cost is projected to range between $199 and $249 in order to compete better with other devices.

Hewlett Packard 110 3530NR Netbook

One problem with smaller devices is a need to enlarge and shrink many tablet screens while working. Many small children still havent developed the ability to track text with their eyes as well as an adult, so too much movement on a screen is distracting and confusing for them. My school purchased a few Hewlett Packard laptops and when students use this device they struggle to read the font as they attempt to create collaborative stories and take reading comprehension quizzes online. When given the choice, they actually prefer to use our schools slower, larger desktops. In addition, the district has refused to work on them until recently because they had no warranty (some of our technology staff has realized thats counterproductive and are willing to help). These devices also have no drives for Cd or DVD Roms, which is sometimes a problem.

Prometheans New Tablet ile-learning/activtablet/ Promethean is developing a new tablet that greatly interests me, designed for collaboration in the classroom and set up for teacher management, which is one of its biggest selling points. This device

sounds ideal for kindergarten through second grade students, and if it allows students to complete assessments online, it could become the preferred tablet for all elementary students. It is created to enhance and drive the learning process with students in mind, which is unusual for a device. With teacher management built in to these tablets, my students could be collaborating and working in groups as I multitask: reteaching and explaining concepts while keeping an eye on the class. It claims to have a bank of productivity and creativity tools and to allow all students to work at their own pace. Teachers can even launch specific applications across the room and temporarily lock tablet screens when they need to make an announcement! These tablets are also able to work side by side with other mobile devices. Our school already uses ActivStudio, ActivPrimary, and ActiVotes in most of our classrooms. We also have ActivSlates, but they are nearly useless because they are so difficult to use, even for an adult. My experience with the ActivSlate, purchased in about 2007, is the only thing that keeps me skeptical about the type of tablet this company is developing. I can hardly get this device to work and my students dont even want to play with it, let alone use it for schoolwork. However, other Promethean products have performed better than expected.

Prometheans new tablet is not available yet and the price hasnt been determined, but I am on their mailing list anxiously awaiting a closer look at what sounds like the student device of my dreams. Kineo The Kineo, a new device that was or is being developed for elementary students, looks promising, but based on their website: , which doesnt even mention the Kineo, Im guessing Brainchild is either sticking with the iPad (their current choice of device) or that they will not be ready to sell the Kineo anytime soon. The company did announce that they would produce a competing product that is more rugged and inexpensive in this article from 2011. If the device is ever sold, they say messaging has been disabled because its developers suppose it has no educational purpose (I disagree) and the only applications available are those that the administrator or teacher has programmed into it. I have a feeling it would take multiple steps to program these devices to perform the way we would want them to. On the other hand, the device was developed by Google, so its possible that this

device would already be set up to allow students to easily use Google Drive. An application called Achiever comes with the device and helps educators track progress toward state standards, which would be interesting to investigate, but I wonder why there is no mention of Common Core State Standards, which will replace regular state standards this year (this article was printed in 2011). Sonys Tablet S and Xperia Tablet S

Sonys Tablet S is beautiful and works well on a desktop, but isnt very comfortable on your lap, according to Engadget, and is very easily scuffed and scratched. It cannot directly play media from an SD card, so everything must be uploaded first onto internal storage. Their new Xperia tablets storage is 64 GB. The old Tablet S battery life is only 8:31 hours, so it would need to be charged every afternoon after being used in class, but the new one doesnt last any longer. Almost all ports are hidden and some have removable pieces of plastic covering them, which would be difficult for an adult to protect and almost certainly would be lost by a child. Sony has pre-installed 27 applications, but they are not educational apps. Overall, the Engadget

review I read stated that the Xperia stumbles more than it pleases in overall performance. The cost is $399 per tablet.

In conclusion, if Prometheans new tablet is as student and teacher friendly as it promises to be, it would be my first choice as an educator for primary students. If students have the ability to use it for taking online assessments, it would be my choice for my school.

Until Promethean releases their product, I believe the iPad would be the best device for our school, followed by the iPad mini.

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