A Response to Joshua Kim's '3 Reasons Why Chromebook Beats iPad in 1:1 Programs'

A Response to Joshua Kim's '3 Reasons Why Chromebook Beats iPad in 1:1 Programs'


A few weeks ago, Edsurge republished a piece I did on how the iPad / Chromebook debate was not being correctly framed. Essentially, I said that the iPad was a totally different type of device and since its interface could change to meet the needs of the user, that that certain value-add could not be overstated. The issues of not “meeting needs” arise when schools try to make tablet devices into laptops. Since tablets are not laptops, the efforts to make them “pseudo laptops” often fail.

Chromebooks, on the other hand, are great if you want a laptop and a laptop experience. Unfortunately, 21st century skills are not all about the “laptop experience” or the MS Office experience.

In Joshua Kim's piece, “ 3 Reasons Why Chromebook Beats iPad in 1:1 Programs,” he makes three points to support why Chromebook are a “better choice” that iPads:

  1. Chromebooks are for Creating, iPads are for Consuming
  2. The App Versus the Web
  3. The Google Ecosystem for Collaboration

Okay, I usually don’t revisit stuff like this, but Kim’s article has some outdated doozies that I feel have to be addressed. I feel like I am in an episode of Mythbusters.

Lets look at them one by one:

Chromebooks are for Creating, iPads are for Consuming

This argument was first heard out of the mouths of laptop and PC users when the iPad initially came out with few apps and no camera. I cannot say it any other way: This argument is simply ignorant. It is an argument that has been disproven time and time again over the lifespan of the iPad.

There literally are hundreds of thousands of apps that are used to create music, written papers, animations, spreadsheets, movies, photos and on and on. Even four years ago, articles were being written about how creative types were using iPads to create content. Since then the number and types of creative content being done on iPads is astounding. See the video above to understand content creation using an iPad. Now, ask yourself, can a Chromebook do that?

Yet, Kim says:

But I would submit that anyone making the argument that the iPad is adequate for creating should be willing to live with only an iPad. How far would you get in your work if were iPad only? Everyone I know who owns an iPad uses it as a complement and a supplement to a laptop. They might bring their iPad to meetings attached to this keyboard or that, but for serious work (which almost always means creating documents), it is back to the laptop.

That simply makes no sense at all. No one uses a single device to do everything. No one. That is what living in the 21st century is all about. A chef does not JUST use a stove top. A chef uses an oven, the stovetop, a microwave…the tool should suit the needs, same with the school technology.

My argument again is this: If you have to purchase a single piece of equipment, why not purchase the most versatile one, not simply the cheapest one?

App versus Web

Kim makes the incorrect “either/or” argument that because Chromebooks live in the web they are superior. “Students using a Chromebook to learn can share materials and creations with everyone else on the Web. They can access the same sites and use the same tools,” he writes.

What? In his first argument against iPads, he claims that they are “consumption devices.” That IMPLIES that the consuming (watching videos, reading books, surfing the internet) all takes place on the web. He then says that the Chromebooks are better because they live in the web and that apps are an inferior place to teach and learn. You cannot have both. (Funny how we have been using PCs for years with “apps” and no one complains about them.) Either using the web is superior or it is inferior. Either way, the iPad has both spaces covered.

Without going too far into such impressive teaching apps like Doceri, it is apparent that Mr. Kim has not really picked up an iPad in a long long time. The iPad pretty much can do all of the “Chrome” things, including run the Chrome browser. Google docs, pretty much ALL of them, have apps that run on iPad. Not enough for you? Simply access your Google-office thing through the Safari web browser and collaborate away.

Again, Kim is simply incorrect when he says that “Building our teaching and learning around an iOS device means that only those in the iOS club get to participate. Our students can’t connect or share or learn from anyone outside of the club. Is this what we really want?”

Collaborative tools such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and now Pages, and the Office Collaboartive suite all work in the web, with iOS devices and non-iOS devices. iCloud runs anywhere on any machine, for instance, including PCs.

The final nail in the coffin for this argument is that Google itself announced back in December 2013 that it was allowing all of its Chrome apps to be ported over to iOS. The advantage, if there was one to Chromebooks, is nullified.

Kim’s final argument is that somehow, magically, the Chromebook is the only device that allows for collaboration. Let me answer that with this:

Here is a description: Create, edit and collaborate with others on documents from your iPod, iPhone or iPad with the free Google Docs app.

With Google Docs you can:

  • Create new documents or edit any that you have started on the web or another device
  • Share documents and work together with others in the same document at the same time
  • Get stuff done at any time – even without an Internet connection
  • Add and respond to comments
  • Never worry about losing your work – everything is automatically saved as you type
  • Protect your documents with a 4-digit passcode

The same holds true for Google Drive for IOS and Google Sheets.

A simple Google search “Collaborative Tools IOS” gives you amazing results like this.

Kim ends his rebuttal with this question:

All the learning and the work that the student invests to learn how to use Google collaboration tools will be relevant in their future education and work life, even if they never own another Chromebook. Can that be said of an iOS device?

Again, he looks at life with an either/or mindset. The iOS device CAN do many, if not MOST, of the web-based tricks a Chromebook can, in many cases even better (For instance the recent collaborative upgrade to Pages on iOS makes much nicer documents than Google Docs could ever imagine. For free. Same for all of the other iWorks for IOS apps.

What I think we have here, is someone stuck in the idea that a device has to have a keyboard built in in order to be an effective learning tool. It does not. I once had a colleague tell me that he would never use a Mac because it didn’t have a “right click” on the mouse. I think that this is a similar argument: No tactile keyboard=little use.

Times are changing and perhaps we need to rethink that whole idea that writing MUST have a keyboard in order to be productive.

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