Our Tablet of Choice

As at July 2014 our Senior Primary School will be a 1:1 iPad school. This is not a decision that we have reached lightly, nor have we simply jumped on the iPad bandwagon. It is a decision that has been three years in the making and it has been taken after due consideration, research, discussion, consultation and deliberation. For us as a school this is the way forward. As mentioned in my previous post, it was of utmost importance for us as a school, to engage with our parents and share our journey with the iPads with them, and then of course, inform them of the path that we as a school have chosen as the way forward. This was of extreme importance too, since we are asking our parents to provide the devices for our students.

During October we held a series of three meetings at different times to accommodate as many parents as possible. During these meetings we shared the journey that we have been on for the past 18 months with our shared iPads in Grade 6. We showed them some student examples and also interviews with both the teachers and some of the students. All in all, the presentations were well received by our parents. In preparing for these talks, our principal and I made every effort to ensure that we would cover most, if not all, of the potential questions from parents and I believe that we did this very well. Questions about security, internet safety, which devices were suitable, financial implications for the parents etc. were covered in both our presentations, and of course, the answer to the question that many of our parents were interested in – Why iPads? This was well covered in the presentations, yet we still had one or two questions afterwards about why we were not going with the new Microsoft Surface tablet or why we were not going with Android devices. After a recent email from a parent about this very question, our principal, Arthur Preston, put together this very clear and concise response which explains exactly why we have decided on the iPad as our tablet of choice:

We decided on the iPad for the following reasons:

1)     Apple’s App Store is quality controlled whereas the Google Play store has only very recently begun a purge of inappropriate and poor quality apps but still lacks a formal approval process for apps.

2)     Malware and viruses are far more common on Android devices than Apple. According to a report released earlier this year 97% of malware and virus attacks on mobile devices were made on Android devices (http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/04/14/apple-enterprise-android-malware/). We obviously wish to keep our children safe and our network secure and believe that iOS devices are best placed for this.

 3)     The Apple operating system, iOS, is updated regularly and can be installed quickly and effectively. This means that developers are regularly updating their apps to take advantage of the latest operating system.

 4)     The battery life of an iPad will allow a fully-charged device to be used throughout the school day without charging. This makes it an ideal device for school use.

 5)     Apple has made a concerted effort to provide support for education. This includes teacher development, a specialised education section on the App Store and support for schools.

 6)     Providing IT support for many variants of Android devices makes it very difficult for both teachers and our IT department to support both teachers and pupils. By keeping to one device we are giving our teachers the best opportunity to become familiar with one operating system and one device’s settings and unique characteristics. A classroom filled with a variety of Android devices made by different manufacturers and running different versions of Android (including possibly watered down versions for simpler tablets) will not allow this and will possibly take up valuable learning time as the teacher ensures all pupils are able to access the same app or utilise the device as expected.

 7)     The new iPads with the A7 processor and retina-display provide a desktop quality computing experience in the children’s hands. No other mobile device currently available is able to offer this quality of experience. The new iLife and iWork suite of apps are head and shoulders above anything available for Android or other operating system.

 8)     While many other tablets on the market offer a good quality experience to the end-user, it is our belief that the iPad provides the best educational experience for school pupils. This belief is founded on the experience of many schools both inside and outside South Africa, our own research and input from well-respected educational technologists from various countries including South Africa.

 I own a Samsung Galaxy Tab and an iPad. Both are good devices, but there is no doubt in my mind that the best quality user experience and certainly the best option for my children at school is found on the iPad.

Arthur Preston – November 2013

In closing I leave you with a quote from Fraser Speirs (Shared on Twitter in September 2013):

“The iPad is not for schools that want to “use tablets”, it is for schools wanting to change the educational experience.”