Comparing iPad and Chromebook in the Classroom

Which is the best option for your teachers?

Technology in schools is an ever-increasing demand as vocations and learning continue to advance. The two most popular portable devices in the classroom are Apple’s iPad and Google’s Chromebook. By providing access to a multitude of learning apps and teaching software, these devices have taken the stage as the next big thing in education.And though both are being deployed in 1:1 initiatives, they’ve got a few differences that can seriously help, or possibly hinder, education in the classroom. But with equally impressive options on the table, it can be tricky to decide which works best for your students, your teachers, and your IT administrators.

To help you with your choice, we’ve put together a comparison of the pros and cons of each.  

iPads for Education: Advantages and Disadvantages

The Apple iPad began as a novelty tech item, but since its introduction into the market, it’s become the go-to for business and schools alike. The sleek tablet provides a mobile technology solution for professionals in the marketplace and educators in the classroom.

Thanks to its far reach and flexibility, the iPad’s educational potential is staggering. From the ability to assign projects one to one or the whole class, to using apps that allow students to interact with lesson plans and educational content by touch, iPad brings an unparalleled level of learning immersion to the classroom.

For Teachers

Whether you’re assigning work or coordinating schedules for students, you have the power. With apps like Cell and Structure, DragonBox Algebra, and WWF Together, you can customize assignments and make lessons more engaging with the iPad’s touch screen or even with the Apple Pencil. When using the iPad with the Apple TV or the Clear Touch® interactive panel, you can instantly mirror your screen on the board. You can even control connected student devices and highlight the work of another student, elevating them, and encouraging other students to participate. And since the iPad is a handheld device, you have the freedom to step away from your desk or podium and move about the classroom.

The new Schoolwork app allows teachers to send assignments, collect them, check student progress, and work with students one-on-one at any time. For students, the app organizes their class schedule, assignments, and due dates in real-time, giving them a full planner that updates automatically. 

The versatile Handouts app allows teachers to send links, documents, pdfs, and shortcuts directly to student devices. It works across all of their classes and subjects and makes distributing information and assignments so efficient that passing out physical papers feels like the stone age.

For IT

With Apple School Manager, implementation is straightforward and highly customizable, allowing for mass deployment of devices that can even be shared by multiple student profiles. Apple offers 24/7 support through AppleCare, though if there is a hardware issue, the device would likely need to be sent to Apple for repair, which means having a few spare iPads wouldn’t be a bad idea.

For Students

iPads bring a level of immersion into the classroom that is unparalleled thanks to their touch screen gestures that work hand-in-hand with apps. Combine this touch-screen convenience with digital textbooks via the iBooks App, and the iPad makes school material more engaging and backpacks even lighter.

Each student is given a personal profile for the iPads in their classroom, which allows them to sign in to any iPad and get to work where they left off, thanks to data saving in iCloud. And with the Assignment and Handouts apps, schedules are set, collaboration is simplified, and tasks are organized — all without the need of a planner.

iPads also make education more accessible to students with special needs. Apple has spent years perfecting settings that allow students of all ability levels to access and use all of their devices. There are customized options designed to help students overcome challenges with motor skills, speech, poor eyesight, or no sight at all. By ensuring no one in the school is excluded from innovative learning and collaboration, the iPad provides an excellent solution for any special needs classroom.

iPad Cost for Educational Institutions

If you’ve ever shopped for an Apple product, one thing certainly sticks out: the price. Over the years, however, they’ve released multiple versions (iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad Pro), providing various price points for a wide array of budgetary constraints. On top of this, Apple has an entire section of their website dedicated to Educational Institutions. This section features a separate price list, lower than what an average consumer would typically pay on their own. This page has a link to two PDFs, one for K-12, and another for higher education, which has the full list of available Apple devices. For example, consider the base iPad at 32G. This device starts at $299. Add in accessories like keyboards, the optional Apple Pencil (depending on the curriculum), and of course, durable cases, and the total price can jump even more.

How To Use iPads in the Classroom

With Assignments and Handouts, coordinating students’ schedules and classwork couldn’t be easier, even on a one-on-one basis. And thanks to the iPad’s near-universal connectivity, if a teacher wants to show a video, they can cast it directly to an interactive display in the room with just a swipe. Once their screen is displayed, they can share graphs, charts, videos, and more thanks to the iPad’s built-in mirroring feature.

Google Chromebooks for Education: Advantages and Disadvantages

Google’s Chromebook had a similar inception to the iPad: it was released, and many criticized it as being underwhelming or, at the very least, a strange move for the search engine giant. But over time, the Chromebook has cemented its place in the educational world with its accessibility, low cost, and suite of useful apps that connect to Google’s global reach.

The Chromebook is an internet device, meaning it only connects to the internet and does not store data internally like traditional computers. It uses a customizable web browser that uses a simple operating system to do everything from downloading apps to playing videos. And with more than 30 million student users to date, Chromebook has already established a serious presence in the classroom.

For Teachers

The Google Chromebook comes complete with G Suite for Education, a group of Google-designed apps dedicated to education and classroom organization. One such app, Google Classroom, helps organize assignments and collaboration between students by allowing teachers to not only create schedules and assignments. The application also integrates thousands of educator-approved apps from Google Play, giving educators a nearly unlimited suite of interactive teaching tools.

Chromebooks bring something special to the educational table. Not only can teachers assign and coordinate, but they also have access to all the data on their classroom devices, which allows them to monitor student progress in real-time. This visibility enables teachers to see if an assignment was worked on, determine how far along a student is, or help them find an assignment if they’re not sure where they saved it. The classic laptop design means the Chromebook is a little more stationary than an iPad or tablet. Still, with wifi and Bluetooth capabilities, the computer can connect to the main classroom display with ease.

For IT

G Suite for Education allows unlimited users, meaning each student can use their own profile to log into everything they need, from apps, settings, books, and videos, as well as their class assignments. Chromebooks also provide a Google Admin Console, where teachers and administrators can predetermine which apps can be installed or accessed. They can even block apps and websites as need be. Support is easy, as Chromebooks have 24/7 support via online chat, email, or phone.

For Students

The Chromebook’s biggest advantage is that it’s a portable computer with a built-in keyboard and trackpad, as well as USB ports for a mouse. Since the laptop doesn’t feature touch screen controls or handheld mobility, it can be harder to damage and easier to hold. This makes durability another selling point. With a user interface that operates like a standard laptop, the Chromebook also helps students develop computer literacy, which is invaluable in today’s connected marketplace. And since not every home has access to wifi, much less a computer, school-provided Chromebooks ensure that students from low-income families have the same access to a computer as everyone else. Google also put in the time and effort to make Chromebooks accessible to students with special hearing, sight, and motor skill needs, allowing them to be used by anyone.

Google Chromebook Cost for Educational Institutions

On their own, Chromebooks can run about $200 each, but when you go through Google’s Education program, this changes entirely. The Chromebooks for Education program makes the computers available for $20 per Chromebook, per month. While this translates to $240 per year, the plan also includes all hardware and software support. On top of that, participating schools receive all new Chromebooks every three years, and they can keep the old Chromebooks at no extra cost.

How to use Chromebooks in the classroom.

In the classroom, apps like Science Journal enable interactive focuses and immersive learning. With a built-in-keyboard, students are naturally introduced to typing, a skill that will serve them well in their educational and professional careers. Chromebook can connect to anything, from Bluetooth speakers to Wifi devices and interactive touch screen displays, allowing presentations to be created and displayed from the same Chromebook by students and teachers alike.

Apple iPad vs. Google Chromebook for Education

The iPad and Chromebook are incredible devices that can take learning to the next level. They are phenomenal tools that increase student engagement and allow teachers to do what they do best. 

iPad for Education

The iPad gives users access to incredible educational suites and peripheral tools like the Apple Pencil, making it a valuable resource for the classroom. But maximizing its potential may require additional investments that, depending on your school, may not be feasible. In the end, the iPad offers more flexible options for pure immersion, but some of these options may be cost-prohibitive.

Chromebook for Education

The Chromebook is an excellent way to introduce technology to the classroom, and Google makes it easy to keep going with new devices every three years. The Chromebook is the most affordable way to get interactive devices into the hands of teachers and students. And in the end, though maybe less immersive, this solution still provides a versatile educational tool that prepares students for a computer-based future.

The bottom line is that both the iPad and the Google Chromebook are excellent tools for the classroom, and they can both connect to a huge range of apps and devices, including Clear Touch® interactive panels and software applications such as Canvas, Command, and Collage. Since Clear Touch solutions are hardware and software agnostic, the decision between iPads and Chromebooks is more about preference and budget than functionality. When it comes to making a choice, there isn’t a wrong one as both are capable of furthering education in the classroom in a way that was once unimaginable.